A news item this week involved an air steward making a dramatic exit from a plane but also I suspect, his career. The plane had landed but was experiencing delays disembarking. The steward was doing his best to dissuade a passenger from opening the overhead locker, in doing so he took a lot of abuse and the final straw was when he got hit by a piece of luggage. Grabbing a beer from the trolley on the way, he opened the emergency shute and slid to freedom. How many of us have had moments when we just wanted to throw in the towel and walk away?
I couldn’t help but smile and a little part of me thought, ‘good on you’. It reminded me of a horrible job I had years ago, where the boss was the most outrageous renowned bully. A colleague and myself used to reduce ourselves to tears of laughter, thinking up outlandish ways to ‘make our exit’. That didn’t make up for the fact that we all dreaded being called to the office and many evenings were spent crying or seething about events of the day.
I don’t have statistics to quote but I suspect work related stress contributes considerably to the levels of illness within the population. Even those of us who work in healthcare and should know better can often get overburdened by other people’s woes. The pressures put upon NHS workers are considerable but all professions have their own pressures. The signs that your job may be taking its toll on your health include:
- Self-medicating: needing a drink to wind down; using drugs, whether illegal or legal, such as a regular use of pain killers or seemingly harmless over-the-counter remedies; overeating to try to change our emotional state; relying on caffeine, energy drinks or sugar to get ourselves through the day
- Emotional issues: irritability, insomnia, depression, feeling anti-social or feeling somehow alienated from the world around you
- Physical symptoms: muscle tension, headaches, IBS, nausea, tooth grinding, skin eruptions, even infertility and many more conditions have stress at their root.
All in all, if Monday morning fills you with a feeling of dread, then it may be time to rethink your job or even career. That’s not always an easy task or in many cases practical and it may be that we have to find ways of coping with daily stresses in order to maintain our health and just as importantly, our sanity.
Acupuncture works amazingly well for the above conditions partly due to its relaxing and harmonising effects. Once the body and mind are in a balanced state, the mind becomes clear. When we are in this state of mind, it is easier to make good food choices, have the energy and peace of mind to deal with problems in an ‘adult’ way and perhaps then we can start to make minor changes in our lifestyles to counteract our daily stress and find a balance in our lives.
- Consider trying pilates, yoga, tai chi, qi gong or some activity that gently stretches the muscles to combat muscular problems caused by lifting, sitting in front of a computer or any other sedentary or repetitive movements. Alternatively, have a regular massage or some other form of body work.
- Take some time at lunch to have a short walk in order to get the circulation going and fill the lungs with fresh new oxygen. If possible find a quiet outdoor space to ‘reboot’.
- Try some simple meditation like listening to some relaxing music on your ipod whilst consciously breathing, filling the body with positive white light.
- Get adequate sleep. There’s no point sitting up late watching rubbish on TV. Go to bed.
- Try to maintain good nutrition avoiding ‘ready meals’.
- Plan ahead and take regular holidays, even if it’s just a long weekend. Find activities outside of work that give you pleasure and fulfillment.
All in all, learn when to say ‘no’ and leave work at work. Life’s too short! Most importantly, recognise the signs and get help. There are numerous support groups for drug and alcohol related problems. In health related professions, there is often ‘supervision’ available. However trapped and isolated you may feel, there is always a way out. By making a few minor changes we can take back control of our lives. Taking those first few steps out of ‘the rut’ and towards a happier life is a liberating experience.