No one can ever
God is preparing
a place for your
Taking steps to strengthen your resilience, plus seeking treatment if necessary, will help you handle cranky customers, toxic co-workers, and other on the job stressors.
After a really stressful day at work, Katie, an RN, spends a little extra drive time in her car.
“Once I leave the office, work stays here. I try absolutely my best not to take it home,” says Katie, who lives in Alabama. “Even if you have to drive around for a few minutes by yourself.”
That’s what professional counselors call a “calming ritual” – something that may come in especially handy for nurses like Katie, home health workers, bus drivers, social workers, and people employed in restaurants, real estate, personal services, and manufacturing.
Those are among occupations with the highest rates of depression, as ranked by two studies – one published in 2010, the other in 2014. Authors of the later study identified “frequent or difficult interactions” with the public or clients, high levels of stress, and low levels of physical activity as characteristics the jobs had in common.
No matter the profession, strains like cranky customers, uncivil bosses, unpredictable work schedules, unreasonable deadlines, and the 24/7 electronic tether of our mobile devices can challenge anyone’s well-being.
In the American Psychological Association’s 2012 annual Stress in America Survey, 65 percent of respondents listed work as their top source of life stress – but only 37 percent said they were “doing an excellent or very good job managing stress.”
Katie says hospital nursing is so demanding it’s sometimes hard to take a break to regroup.
“You’re the person who goes between the doctor and the patient,” she notes. “All of it kind of gets put on your shoulders. If it all goes wrong … nurses just catch most of the blame.”
Katie prefers to practice in a small clinic where the pace and workload are more comfortable. A case manager for an outpatient mental health and substance abuse program, she’s a fan of adult coloring books— “they’re actually very calming” – and journaling for stress relief.
Expert advice for dealing with job stress tends to fall into two categories: steps you can take at work, such as using all your allotted breaks or advocating for different duties, and steps you can take outside work to better your health and enrich your life satisfaction—getting more exercise, for example, or pursuing hobbies that make you happy.
Steven implemented both types of solutions when the demands of his brewery job in upstate New York contributed to an anxiety diagnosis in 2007.
Steven, 57, had to follow complicated and precise recipes to craft huge tanks of “malternatives” like fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages and hard lemonade. Once he was formally reprimanded for using an ingredient from a new supplier that hadn’t been certified yet, which meant the whole batch went down the drain. He found himself overthinking all the steps in making beer coolers.
He was able to implement one creative change in his work flow to reduce his second-guessing: He would line up ingredients before he started and as each was added, he’d remove it from the bench.
There were other aspects of the job came he couldn’t control, however. His schedule rotated through day, evening and night shifts—a documented risk factor in depression and anxiety. He would frequently be called away from one task to attend a process elsewhere in the brewery complex, which made it harder to meet his production deadlines. Cost-cutting layoffs shrank his department from five employees per shift to three.
To counterbalance on-the-job aggravations, Steven pursued nature photography on his own and with a meet-up group.
“Photography helps,” says Steven, who took a disability retirement last year due to a bum knee. “Taking walks, occupying yourself, looking around. Your mind isn’t replaying all that went on in work again.”
The American Institute of Stress notes that job pressures in and of themselves may be less important than how individuals fit with the work environment. For example, there are people who thrive in pressure-cooker situations while others have a lower tolerance for overload.
What’s happening outside of work can make a difference, too. At times, life stressors plus job stressors may add up to more than an individual’s natural resilience can handle. That’s when buttressing your reserves with activities that strengthen your physical self (especially good sleep), reinforce a positive perspective (such as reframing problems), and dilute tension (yoga, anyone?) become even more important.
Allison got caught in a period of institutional upheaval shortly after starting a new job at a prestigious music conservatory in Rochester, New York.
“We had to downsize my department. I had to fire people to cut costs. I had to outsource services at the same time I was learning the job,” recalls Allison, who was hired to oversee publications and public affairs.
In her personal life, Allison was dealing with her mother’s declining health and her marriage was slowly unraveling. Diagnosed with depression, she worked with her doctor and therapist to come up with coping tools.
“My doctor suggested maybe doing art or exercising. I swam laps. I would sit quietly at night and listen to the radio and draw mandalas. I would paint,” says Allison.
As the environment at work worsened, Allison decided on a more radical solution: Leaving that job to look for opportunities where she could be self-employed.
The “take this job and shove it” approach may be the best option in some circumstances, but for many it feels like an impossible choice. Robert W. McLellarn, PhD, often counsels people who are stressed out because of their jobs.
“They feel like they have to keep going to keep the paycheck,” notes McLellarn, a licensed clinical psychologist in Portland, Oregon, who specializes in treating anxiety.
McLellarn says that taking some sort of action short of leaving a bad job can be a stress reliever. For example, pursue the skills or training needed to get a more fulfilling job. The goal is to feel less stuck.
“Even giving people some strategies, some ideas, some hope that this can change is rewarding,” says McLellarn.
Assuming clear guidelines from human resources and a sympathetic supervisor, negotiating accommodations can be an on-the-job option. Opinion varies on whether it’s wise to divulge mental health challenges, and a lot depends on an individual’s particular situation and comfort level.
Genella of Brandon, Manitoba, coaches individuals on managing stress and advises companies on how to establish “psychologically safe” workplaces through her consulting firm Partners in Discovery. Although more employers are recognizing the bottom-line benefits of reducing burnout, she acknowledges that ignorance and stigma haven’t disappeared.
“People understand if you have a cast on your leg, but if you’re stressed, people still think it’s a character flaw,” says Genella, who has dealt with depression and anxiety herself.
Similarly, Genella points out, people can see that someone with a broken leg needs an elevator to go between floors, but they may not know what sort of supports to offer for a person with depression or anxiety.
Genella says Canadian law acknowledges addiction issues, but hasn’t codified accommodations for mental health.
Protections assured by the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act may come into play if symptoms interfere with job responsibilities, according to Job Accommodations Network, a program of the U.S. Department of Labor and academic and industry partners.
Lisa of Brooklyn found an ally when she went to work part-time as an admissions coordinator at a law school in New York City nine years ago. Lisa, 46, has lived with sometimes disabling anxiety since her teens. Her department head allowed her to switch around her schedule if a panic attack erupted on a day she was due in.
When Lisa feels overwhelmed at the office, she takes a bathroom break to practice deep breathing exercises. She also finds prayer calming.
Having a strong support network at home keeps Lisa fortified for work demands. She finds that in her husband and parents, who live in the same apartment building. Weekly visits with her beloved nephews, ages 5 years old and 4 months old, have become a vital tonic.
“I call them my sunshine boys,” she says. “They should just bottle babies and give that as depression medication.”
Genella, meanwhile, thrives on the “unconditional gratitude, acceptance and love” of her dog, Tucker.
“When you have those, you can’t have a stress response at the same time,” she asserts. “I suggest that a person find out: When you are stressed, what works for you?”
WORKPLACE STRESS: SWITCH GEARS
It’s important to leave work and all its worries behind once you get home. Creating a destressing ritual can help you move into a new frame of mind. That could be something as simple as changing into more comfortable clothes or having a cup of tea while reviewing the mail.
DOLLARS AND SENSE
If it’s not addressed, chronic work stress can have a negative impact on physical health, family relationships, and life satisfaction. It can tip vulnerable individuals into depression or anxiety, or trigger those already dealing with mental health challenges.
Quite apart from the personal toll, there’s a financial backlash for businesses. One widely quoted statistic puts the annual cost of job stress to the American economy at $300 billion.
That includes the estimated burden of accidents due to fatigue and inability to concentrate, employee turnover, and loss of productivity due to absenteeism and “presenteeism”—in attendance bodily but unable to work at normal capacity.
According to the Harvard Business Review, studies show that presenteeism due to chronic illnesses—including conditions like allergies and arthritis – costs employers two to three times more than direct medical care.
Looking specifically at depression in the workplace, the advocacy organization Mental Health American cites a figure of $51 billion annually in indirect costs to the U.S. economy.
In Canada, more than 30 percent of disability claims and 70 percent of disability costs can be traced to mental health issues, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada. However, such payouts may yield a rich payback.
In a 2009 survey of 3,000 Alberta workers found that 255 people (or nearly 10 percent) confirmed they’d had a depressive episode in the year before they were interviewed. Those who had received treatment were significantly more likely to report being able to function at a highly productive level at work compared to those who had not sought help
TOXIC WORKPLACE ANTITOXINS
Sometimes job stress doesn’t come from the work itself but from the people you work with. In her book Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, Christine Porath, PhD, chronicles the toll that a toxic workplace can take on employees and employers.
Productivity tends to decrease and work absences tend to increase. If workers burn out and leave, businesses face the expense of replacing them. People are likely to carry workplace stress home at the end of the day, with poisonous effects on their health and relationships.
Whether a single bout of yelling or constant “micro-aggressions” by a difficult supervisor, the effects “can stick with people for decades,” Porath says. “It takes a cognitive toll even if you just observe it.”
Minimizing face-to-face contact can be a legitimate strategy, such as steering clear of committee work with a co-worker who pushes your buttons. Some other recommendations:
For a reality check, discreetly ask co-workers whether they’re having similar problems. Try to evaluate where there’s an objective issue affecting everyone, like unreasonable deadlines or constant disrespect, or whether you are particularly reactive.
Try talking with your supervisor about specific behaviors and situations that are making you feel stressed. Some may welcome the feedback, others may react negatively.
If your supervisor is not receptive to your concerns, consider moving up the chain of command or turning to the human resources department or a union representative.
If unclear job expectations are creating stress, ask to work with your supervisor on developing written guidelines you can both agree upon
FEEL THE BURN(OUT)
The Mayo Clinic lists these signs of job burnout:
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
- Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
- Are you using food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
- Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
- Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?
No one can ever really understand.
Our plan to travel this Friday
has been postponed due to
We will meet at school
from 8:30 a.m.
to 3:15 p.m.
and work with our Director,
on our upcoming
April 28 At School (Play rehearsal)
May 1 TUITION DUE for 2017-18
May 15 & 16 Shakespeare Production at Stage West Theater
May 22 – 26 Adventure Trip
May 26 Last Day of Semester.
Copyright Disclaimer – Section 107 – Copyright Act 1976,
allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship,and research. Fair use is permitted by copyright statute. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of “fair use”.
Lyrics/song texts are property and copyright of their owners and provided for educational purposes.