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Super Stress Solutions Course ~ Day 6

Stress and Work ~ Am I Burned out?


Welcome to Day 6 of your 7 Day Super Stress Solution course. In the previous 5 days you learned about the stress response, how to determine the stages of stress you may be in, and how to improve your sleep as well as how to reduce headaches and cope more affectively with anxiety. Today you will learn about job stress and the signs of burn out and how to prevent them.

Super Stress Solution Day 6
Stress and Work - Am I Burned out?

There is no doubt that we spend more of our waking hours involving work than any other activity in our life. So it's easy to see how significantly work impacts upon our overall quality of life. It is generally accepted job stress is a combination of external factors i.e. poor job fit, competency issues, interpersonal support systems and internal factors such as personality characteristics, workaholic tendencies and perfectionism yet there are certain work conditions that almost universally create stress for everyone who experiences these conditions at work and are proven to cause burnout. For example if your job is repetitive it's easy for boredom to set in. If your job has extreme physical demands and time pressures and deadlines than it will have a significant impact on overall level of stress.

There may also be role conflict or role ambiguity or territorial boundaries and possible under or over promotion or lack of job security, poor relationships with peers or little acknowledgement or opportunity to impact decisions and feel that you can make a difference or a meaningful contribution at work. These external conditions often cultivate a toxic work environment that can erode ones morale and cause a person to become burnt out on their job.

However, these work conditions alone are not solely responsible for possible job dissatisfaction and burn out. Personality characteristics for example workaholic tendencies and competitiveness can cause stress at work regardless of the external circumstances. So you can well imagine how potentially distressed an employee may be come with a combination of a poor work environment and personal work skills that can create high stress. For example if you were going through a mid life crisis, had family pressures, commuting challenges, financial difficulties, etc these factors could impact detrimentally upon your ability cope with normal stressors at work. Furthermore if there are unresolved stressors at work and home this provides a potent combination that will likely lead to a development of stress related disorders and possible exhaustion which ultimately lead to some type of burn out. Burn out can be defined as a weakened, physical and psychological condition brought about by unrelieved work stress which results in

a) Depleted energy resources
b) Lowered resistance to illness
c) Increased dissatisfaction and pessimism
d) Increased absenteeism and inefficiency at work

Actually burnout is progressive. Initially there is a honeymoon stage when you experience enthusiasm which comes from a strong desire to succeed but uses up unnecessary energy.

The Second stage is called the fuel shortage stage this is when you experience feelings of loss, fatigue, job dissatisfaction, sleep disturbances and possible escape and/or check out activities for example excessive drinking or avoidance behaviors.

The third stage we experience the chronic symptoms stage. This is a profound feeling of distress and distain for working. Fatigue, anxiety, frustration and dread or going to work now play a prominent role in your life. Often depression and hostilities evolve into interpersonal problems at work and home and there is significant disengagement that now impairs communication and productivity with coworkers.

Avoiding burn out from work may have more to do with lifestyle and coping factors away from work than the actual stressors you may experience while on the job. At times there is often very little you can do to change the infrastructure and conditions of your work demands that you have much to do about how you cope with the perceptions of stress at work and also how you handle it in your personal life which has a direct impact on your ability to work productively. None the less you can exhibit some control over your work place stressors and how you handle them. Here are some helpful suggestions to reduce work stress and possibly prevent burnout.

  • If you feel overwhelmed by multiple tasking, interactions at work or clutter you can reorganize your time reduce continuous people contact and establish neatness and order in your work environment.

  • You can learn to say no and delegate to others and try to establish specific boundaries and role clarity and support at work.

  • Furthermore you can break for lunch focus on exercise and relaxation either before work or after and create a sense of meaning and purpose within yourself regardless of the negative environment that may exist at work.

  • The most important technique for reducing stress is the ability to separate your work from your personal life. Competent copers who experience high levels of stress at work seem to be resilient towards stress if they can focus on their work but once they come home they are capable of putting there mind to other things. It's also important to develop a flexible self empowered attitude towards work which can go along way to prevent increased job stress and possible burn out.


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