The simple answer is yes. Without changes, it can be very deadly. Work related stress is on the rise, and it isn’t a good thing.
What is Causing the Stress?
Fewer Hands: Employers are leery of hiring more people, so they add work to those who are still present. Many people are finding themselves doing alone what once took three people to accomplish. As far as the employer sees it, it’s working, so why change?
More Demands: On top of having the work of three people, new things crop up regularly, particularly in technology related fields. More assignments must be handed out to the already overstretched employee.
Keeping up with the Industry: Like the demands, new things are being discovered. Even if it doesn’t concern your particular work now, it could in the future, making it necessary to continually read trade journals or look on-line for information.
Pay/Benefit Cuts: The cost of benefits, particularly health related ones, is skyrocketing. Companies have to cut back in order to maintain a profit margin.
Furloughs: Legal or not, many companies are either forcing their employees to use their vacation time in a way that benefits the company rather than the employee. Others are dealing with furlough days; days they can’t work and won’t be paid.
All of this leads to a climate of fear and a great deal of stress. Complaining about these changes could get an employee fired, so instead of talking it out to help relieve the stress, they endure in silence. This is not healthy.
Short of winning the lottery, overworked employees need to find coping mechanisms that work for them. Below are a variety of ideas, and they may trigger ideas of your own to help you cope.
Adequate Hydration: Gone are the days of water cooler conversations. With all you have to get done, the simple act of getting a bottle of water may seem to take too much time. However, hydration is key to maintaining low stress levels.
One solution is to bring water with you from home. If you set it next to your computer, you’ll find yourself taking a drink without thinking and usually without much change in the flow of your efforts.
Delegate Where Possible: That isn’t always doable, but it’s worth a try if you think you can manage it. Having someone else do the easy or preliminary work can help relieve some of the load from your shoulders.
Exercise: You don’t have to join a gym or take up running. A simple walk around the block can be helpful. If you can manage to take a lunch break, a quick walk then can give you a second wind for the afternoon tasks.
Good Food Choices: There are two aspects to this. One is choosing food that’s good for you and the other is not to eat at your desk while trying to work. If your workplace doesn’t have a cafeteria or if the food offered there isn’t healthy, it’s perfectly fine to bring a lunch in. There are some fairly healthy frozen dinners that can be microwaved in about five minutes.
Herbal Help: Many herbs can help calm you, though most should be taken at home when you don’t need to do any driving. They can cause drowsiness, which isn’t useful in an active work environment. During work, aromatherapy may be your best bet. Chamomile and lavender essential oils can help soothe quietly.
At home, those two herbs with jasmine and passionflower make a very relaxing tea combination. If sleep is also an issue, skullcap and valerian are possible choices. Skullcap is fairly strong, so use it with caution. Never drive or operate heavy machinery if you are using these herbs.
See the Doctor: There comes a time when none of this will help. Rather than have a nervous breakdown, talk to your doctor. You may need a counselor…someone you can talk to without fear of work related reprisals. You may also require something stronger to help keep you calm.
The uncertainty of our world right now is hard on everyone. If you’re one of those being forced to work overtime, taking care of your body is extremely important.