In today’s busy, hectic world, it seems most people are burning their candles at both ends.  Because many companies have downsized, persons may be asked to perform their usual job, and have other duties added to it.  For our friends in the United Kingdom, “Stress Awareness Day” is observed on November 3rd.  Here, in the United States, it’s April 16th.  But what the heck, let’s go ahead and talk about stress in our lives both now and in April!  Maybe we’ll think of some pointers that will ease the stress in your life. 

As we said, companies are operating “lean and mean.”  This means you may be doing more than one job.  If you feel that your load is too heavy to handle, you need to think about how you can better deal with it.  No job in the world is worth losing your health over.  You may place too much emphasis on your career, and when that happens, you become stressed out.  Then, not only you, but your family and friends are affected. 

Some of the consequences of work overload can show up in many forms:

  • Physical – you may experience aches and pains, frequent colds or sickness, ulcers, heartburn, indigestion, hyperventilation, grinding teeth, weight loss or gain, blood pressure and heart problems, panic attacks, and fatigue, in general.
  • Physiological – you may become emotional to the point of mood swings, sensitivity, out of control, lack of motivation, easily irritated, tearful, angry, frustrated, or low self-esteem.
  • Psychological – you may develop a lack of concentration, memory lapses, be easily distracted, worried, depressed, anxious, or less creative. 

Have you experienced any or all of these symptoms?  Many persons can probably list quite a few of them.  When you get down to it, though, the most important thing to do to avoid any and all of these pressures is to figure out the underlying cause, and do something about it.  If you are trying to perform your work and/or duties at home at an unfavorable comfort level every day, you are under too much stress!   (You also may need to consult your physician for advice on preventing serious illness that possibly could be caused by your daily work experiences.)

We have talked previously about how fatigue causes accidents.  When a person is extremely tired or stressed, they become more prone to incidents where they or a coworker can be injured.  Most industrial work environments, such as manufacturing and construction require workers to be on their toes at all times.  An example of a stressful job that comes to mind is an air traffic controller.  He/she must be constantly alert in order to protect the safety of thousands of persons every day.  

If you feel that you have too much work to do, and too little time to do it, there are two things that will help you cope.  Plan and organize.  Take the time to write down exactly what you must do the next day.  Prioritize the important tasks that must be done.  Think about how much time you spend throughout the day on your computer checking emails, answering phone calls, and handling other interruptions.  Allow yourself a certain amount of time to do these things, and then concentrate on finishing the tasks that deserve the most attention.  You can’t avoid interruptions, but try to move on as quickly as possible. 

Stick to your daily plan, manage the time you are going to spend on the items at the top of your list.  Keep a calendar, either on your computer, or your desk, and mark down everything that you must do that day.  Check it off when it’s completed.   If you work in a situation where you feel outside interruptions cause you to lose time, talk to your supervisor about how you can manage your time more effectively.    If you work with someone who is very efficient, ask them to share ideas that can help you.  Know that you can only do so much during your shift.  When you have taken care of the work at the top of your list, chances are  the other tasks can wait until tomorrow.   

Make time for your family and friends, and enjoy life.