NOTE: This is a GUEST POST .
Modern lives move at a hectic pace and most people live with higher than desirable stress levels. In particular, a highly competitive work environments challenges our ability to keep up with competing demands. And, like it or not, family and personal commitments typically take up the rest of our time.
Despite our best efforts, stress inevitably creeps into our daily lives, especially on the job, where responsibilities pull us in all directions. Managing personal life and work commitments are monumental undertakings for most people. But chronic health challenges add another layer of complexity to the process.
Stress is the body’s natural response to what we encounter. Stress helps us to manage the ups and downs of daily living. But prolonged stress impairs our ability to function, especially when high levels are experienced for long periods of time. Being able to relieve or decrease stress at work relies on a number of approaches proven to mitigate our tendency to become “stressed-out” or “over-stressed”. The following are tactics that many healthy people find useful. If you live with chronic health challenges, the following ideas are even more important to consider.
When you live with unpredictable chronic diseases (such as autoimmune, heart, etc.) or pain/fatigue syndromes, you learn quickly the value of trying to maintain flexibility in your life. When you can extend that flexibility to the workplace, it can be a significant stress-reducer. A flexible work schedule can ease the stress caused by rigid work hours and deadlines. And it can help reduce the internal questions that wear you down, such as, “What if I am unable to make it to work tomorrow?” and “Will my boss understand if I need to work nights, so I can schedule medical appointments during the day?” Look for those places where you can incorporate a schedule that allows for change into your daily routine, wherever possible.
Knowledge Is Empowering
Everyone in the workforce faces many types of uncertainty. But people with chronic health conditions face additional questions that come from an uncertain health future. They worry about how their conditions will impact their employment and their benefits. When you educate yourself, you can reduce the stress that comes with uncertainty. In addition to specific information about your medical condition, inform yourself and stay current regarding your employer’s disability and worker performance policies. Short and long-term plans are typically different and with differing restrictions and it is useful to know what this could mean to you. Your ability to stay at your job can vary from company to company. Even if you are fully able to perform your job functions other factors can impact your employment as well as your access to health and disability benefits. Federal laws also regulate how employers respond to changes in workers’ health. Consult regulations issued by the Federal Government, as well as protections on the books in your state.
It is consistently noted that sedentary work environments lower productivity and squash creativity. It is important for all workers to incorporate movement into their workdays. When you live with a chronic health condition, your body simply demands this, regardless of pain or fatigue. Desk workers, for example, can get up and walk around for at least several minutes each hour. You can do simple leg and arm exercises at workstations to get the blood pumping again. Getting your blood flowing has been shown to help your body (and your mind) combat the effects of stress. Don’t let ‘lack of time’ be an excuse to fail to take advantage of any company-sponsored fitness programs available, including on-site workout facilities. Yes, you probably feel ‘guilty’ that health already slows you down. But the more you can exercise your body and mind in positive ways, the more you are doing to take charge of your health and stay employed.
Striving for positive work relationships is a worthy goal for us all, but it is particularly important when you live with an unpredictable, chronic health condition. Strong co-worker relationships give you back up when your body disappoints you. They will support you because they believe in you. And you can reduce the stress of the work environment when co-workers care about you and support you. It’s in your best interest to be an effective leader, a productive staffer and that person who finds common ground with even the most “difficult” employees of your organization.
Focus Your Mind
Physical wellness walks hand-in-hand with psychological and emotional health. You can reduce workplace stress with concerted efforts that focus your mind-power in positive ways. Mindfulness techniques, based on Buddhist meditation, provide relaxing distractions from work stress. The practice essentially refocuses your mind to a healthier way of thinking. Instead of focusing on the stressful events in your life, mindfulness advocates for thoughts centered in the here-and-now. By consistently focusing on the present, dwelling on stressful concerns isn’t possible, lowering workplace stress levels.
This guest post was written by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org and gently edited by Rosalind Joffe. Sarah is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to: brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.