Staying healthy at work: Are you working hard or hardly working? (or both?)
*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037
The atmosphere of the workplace has changed dramatically in recent times. Ever since the exploitative practices of the industrial revolution were removed through legislation, work has been defined as a place where a person could find fulfillment through a job which was rewarding and paid a fair wage. But this definition has reverted in recent years to one in which the needs of the employee have become less important. Finding personal fulfillment through work has become more of a challenge. Progressive occupational stress, leading to job burnout, has become a painful reality for many people. This is especially true during times of high unemployment, when the workers who are still employed are expected to carry the load of those who are no longer with the company.
The incidence of job burnout has become increasingly widespread as
- Corporations merge in the interest of the stockholders come to predominant, business policies.
- Jobs are eliminated or combined, because of technological innovations.
- More production moves overseas where labor costs are cheaper.
- Downsizing has become more frequent (where the worker is expected to do more work for less money).
- Layoffs occur with alarming frequency.
Many people are working longer hours and taking on more responsibilities, just to “stay in place.” Where one income used to support a family, now it usually takes two, and this has a major impact on the dynamics of raising the family. As a result of these changes in the workplace, stress has increased dramatically for some workers. Job stress is a result of overload on our senses and in our ability to complete tasks. We are presented with more demands, information, stimuli, and intensity than we can take in and process. The end result of prolonged exposure to stress is job burnout. We progressively shut down under the demands placed on us from the outside world. When we have difficulty in setting priorities, and putting ourselves into balance, we are more prone to suffer from burnout. We feel that we cannot keep up with everything we have to do. Not only is our work intense, but we also have demands to participate in family life, keep up with friends, and complete our normal chores of everyday living. We feel a decreased ability to set limits on various demands. We then begin to feel a vague sense of just not caring so much about work, or maybe anything, anymore. We feel overwhelmed then we retreat.
Burnout is not an all or nothing condition. Rather, think of it as a progressive wearing down, ranging from normal feelings of getting a little tired of your job, to a state of complete exhaustion. Most workers suffer from some of the symptoms of job stress, if not burnout, from time to time. With careful examination of what is contributing to our stress in attending to our needs for well-being, we can usually halt the wear down and revive our enthusiasm for work. Frequently we must take an in-depth look at how we work, and live, in order to turn our stress into an opportunity for personal growth.