31 August 2016
Recently, a friend of mine narrated to me how a colleague of hers at work died some days ago as a result of work-related stress.
Based on my friend’s story, I remember some few months back when a young man was found dead behind the wheel in Lagos, dressed in suit, obviously returning from work.
Sadly, death caused by work-related stress is increasing among young adults and is contrary to what used to obtain.
Excessive stress, especially work stress can affect productivity and performance – and also impact negatively on your physical, mental and emotional health.
Every job has its own peculiar stress. It doesn’t matter how much you like what to do, there are some moments that you feel overstretched and you hit your elastic limit.
For some, stress is occasional, like days when there are deadlines to meet, for others, however, they have a permanent busy schedule, even at night, and also at weekends.
Factors that cause stress at work are called stressors and some of these stressors have been identified as excessive workloads.
Work that is not engaging or challenging, lack of office support, not having enough control over job-related decisions, conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations, unrealistic targets and sometimes low remuneration, just to mention a few, can all make one easily stressed at work.
Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home after a very stressful day.
The fact is that once the day’s work ends, you tend to start thinking of the next day’s busy schedule. With this, stress persists and can take away the effect of the much-needed rest.
Some of the problems associated with work-related stress are headaches, stomach ache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty in concentrating.
Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.
It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease.
Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy junk foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.
Having identified these problems and causes, how do we deal with stress; especially the work-related ones?
First, identify your stressors; those things that are peculiar to you and are known to stress you out. Pencil these causes and begin to address them.
Engaging in exercise can relax both the mind and body thereby taking your mind off work. Try walking, dancing, swimming, or play squash. Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity on most days.
When stress is mounting at work, take a quick stroll outside the workplace if possible. Physical movement can help you regain your balance.
Your food choices can have a huge impact on how you feel at work. Eating small, frequent and healthy meals, for example, can help your body maintain an even level of blood sugar, keeping your energy and focus up, and avoiding mood swings.
At all costs, avoid junks food, nicotine and alcohol; most companies have a no-smoking policy anyway.
Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Turn off screens at least one hour before bedtime. And, keep your phone away, except you are an emergency response worker.
Design a balanced schedule
Create a balanced work-schedule. For instance, you can leave home early in the morning, plan regular breaks and prioritise tasks – break projects into small steps. If need be, delegate responsibility.
Lastly, talk to your employers. Man-hour loss time at work results in low productivity, so they would be willing to listen to suggestions from you on how to make your work easier.
It might range from providing an office support or acquiring some work equipment that makes work done faster to even adjusting your schedule that suits you best and brings the best out of you.
Be careful not to push it too much, some may see it as being ungrateful and may send wrong signals to the management. You don’t want them putting out an advert for your post. Do you?
Author: Dotun Obatuyi
My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.