Stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there”
When I worked in Japan in the late 80’s and early 90’s karoshi (death from overwork) was often talked about as many Japanese men would spend a lot of time at work, do overtime and then go out drinking with their boss and colleagues or go to language class. Most of this behaviour was due to peer pressure and cultural expectations.
Recently I read in the newspaper that those working in health care, social services, shipping and construction are dying because of it. Many young Japanese women today are also victims of karoshi. When I speak of over work I’m not talking about a few hours overtime but up to 100 or 160 hours of overtime in the month before their death. Karoshi not only includes death from heart attack and stroke but also suicide from those who can no longer cope with the insane hours and stress placed upon them.
Here in Australia few people die from work stress but many are unhealthy and unhappy because of it.
It is not only stress from overwork that can kill you but studies have shown that failing to take your annual holidays puts you at a greater risk of dying of a heart attack. It’s also a good idea to take the weekend off from work. Turn off the phone, ipad, android or laptop and spend some time with your family and friends so you can go back to work feeling refreshed and better able to deal with whatever work throws your way.
Symptoms of work stress
Work stress may not end in death or suicide due to depression but there are many other symptoms that can indicate work stress is affecting your health. These include apathy, anxiety, loss of interest in work, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, digestive problems, dizziness, nausea, headaches, migraines, tight, stiff neck and shoulders, drug and alcohol abuse, trouble concentrating, not being able to rest even when you do take time off, withdrawing from family and friends.
17 ways to lessen work stress
It may not be possible to stop work stress but you can help negate some of its effects by improving your physical and emotional well-being before stress and overwork threatens your health. Try to do at least 5 of the following regularly. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you for it.
Learn to communicate better with your boss and co-workers.
Prioritize your work day and do the most important tasks first.
Whenever possible delegate tasks.
Exercise each day for e.g. walking, swimming, playing tennis, football, dancing.
Spend quality time with family and friends.
Spend time in meditation or visualising something that represents peace for you.
Have a regular aroma massage – clients having monthly massages find they are better able to handle both work and life stresses.
Take a few deep, slow breaths when stress and anxiety threaten to overtake you.
Do yoga or tai chi regularly.
Vaporize relaxing or uplifting essential oils like lavender, sweet orange, Roman chamomile, grapefruit, petitgrain, spruce, frankincense.
Watch comedy shows or read funny books and have a good belly laugh.
Listen to music.
Play with your children and animals.
Get enough sleep. Essential oils that can help you relax and get to sleep include lavender, Roman chamomile, sweet marjoram, neroli, valerian, sandalwood.
Eat regular healthy meals. Don’t skip meals as this can leave you tired, anxious and irritable as well as being unable to concentrate.
Leave for work earlier in the morning to avoid traffic jams or crowded trains.
Take time away from work and use your weekends to refresh yourself.