It’s Sunday and the weekend is drawing to an end and the “Sunday Blues” are setting in as you know that tomorrow you will be back at work. Just thinking about your long commute to work, the unfriendly coworkers, the demanding boss, the work deadlines and the ever present office politics leaves you feeling frustrated, anxious, depressed, angry and stressed. Can you identify with these emotions? If you do, chances are your job does not fulfill you. The majority of our wakeful hours are spent at work. There are 24 hours in a day, assuming you have an 8-hour work day, 1-hour commute and you sleep the recommended eight hours per night you are left with 7 hours of personal time and that’s if you’re lucky. Work stress and the subsequent unhappiness can be disabling. It can cripple you emotionally, physically and spiritually. As a practicing physician I see this daily with my patients. The effects of an unhappy work life manifests, to name a few as the following:
- Gastrointestinal upset, such as heart burn or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Weight Gain(from stress eating) leading to chronic diseases such as high cholesterol and diabetes
Working is a means to an end, we all have financial responsibilities and obligations, thus working is unavoidable. So unless you have found your life’s passion and making a living doing so you need to establish coping mechanisms that will help you release the stress. Here are some strategies to help you deal with an unhappy work life:
1. First and foremost you need to acknowledge that you have a problem. It’s been my observation that many of patients don’t connect that their physical and emotional symptoms are directly related to work stress.
2. Seek counseling or talk to a trusted confidante such as a spouse, significant other, relative or best friend. Going through it alone will only make it worse.
3. Take time off. Whenever possible take time off to literally “smell the roses.” You don’t have to break the bank if you can’t afford a vacation. Sometimes just going to a park for a walk or enjoying the sunset can bring you a sense of peace. Connect with nature, it’s free!
4. Discover your life’s passion. What is it that you are really good at and love doing? Can you make a living out of it?
5. Spend time doing things outside of work that you enjoy and that bring you peace. It could be cooking, reading, writing, dancing, knitting, spending time with your loved ones, singing in the church choir, etc… The list is endless.
6. Exercise. We know that exercise is important for weight management, but it is equally important in helping you manage stress.
7. Sleep. Rest your mind, get 7 to 8 ours of sleep per night.
8. If all else fails and nothing you do brings you peace you may need to seek other employment. It may even mean learning a new craft or new vocation. Develop a plan of action, research what is that you really want to do.
9. Give back. Sometimes it’s not all about you. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a boys/girls club. Your job may not fulfill you but your income may allow you to help others. You will find fulfillment in this.
10. Pray. Have faith and be faithful, God didn’t bring you to it if He wasn’t going to get you through it.
by Marjorie Binette, MD