by Elizabeth O’Malley
Today’s high level of job-related stress has reached once unimaginable levels. There is a definite correlation to the stress experienced on everyday jobs and the related illness reported by a generally long-living American public. There are essentially two kinds of job-related stress: physical and emotional. Both affect us and our families on a daily basis. However, they can be dealt with and lessened so there is hope at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
In most jobs, you are training your body to perform tasks that don’t come naturally. This can be a cause of physical stress. Whether it is as a fork-lift operator at a warehouse or Certified Nursing Assistant, (CNA) working at an assisted living facility, much of work-related stress can come from danger and frequency of work-related injury. A nurse or nurse assistant who does not knowing how to properly lift, move or turn over a bed-ridden patient may suffer a life-long back injury. One fairly recent 1999 Ohio University study listed patient handling as a hazardous job, causing frequent low back injury. In particular, the following most commonly used lifting techniques were not considered safe enough to use in health care facilities.
Physical Stress can manifest itself in other ways as well, such as through migraines from staring at the computer or varicose veins from sitting or standing too long in an office or retail position.
Its effect on families: If someone is working in a job with a high level of physical stress, their injury and risk of injury may harm their family. Getting hurt at work can leave someone susceptible to other health problems, and leave them unable to earn money. For those with children, this is a big danger. Partners and children may become stressed by worrying about the worker getting hurt as well.
Emotional/Psychological Stress Related To The Families of Workers
Persons experience emotional stress in most any work environment but particularly susceptible are those who regularly deal as “helpers” or “facilitators,” police and first responders, social workers, air traffic controllers and teachers among many groups. A large factor is how much time the employee spends with people on a daily basis.
Its effect on families: When someone works with people all day, they may come home from work feeling emotionally exhausted, and have a difficult time responding to loved ones’ emotional needs. This can cause partners and children of the worker to feel like they are being left out of the worker’s life, or may even cause feelings of grief and abandonment.
Methods To Combat Job-Related Stress
Below are a few of several effective methods used to help deal with job-related stress. There are practical, simple to implement and above all, they work every time they are put to work.
For most, being alone helps with time and space to organize one’s thought patterns, evaluate one’s inner-most feelings and get away from it all. Saving time for ourselves is an important factor in dealing with stress. Finding at least 15 minutes for quiet reflection can help you reconnect with others again and feel refreshed.
It is important to move around at work- sitting or standing for too long can cause stiffness and soreness, or even medical problems later down the line. Getting up every hour or so from your desk at work, or walking around and shifting weight from leg to leg in a standing job can really make a difference in how the body feels once work is over.
As tools for helping clear the mind, yoga, meditation, and prayer can be incorporated as part of any daily routine. Yoga is especially helpful as it focuses on relieving the physical and mental stress simultaneously, calming the mind and stretching the body.
Today’s high level of work-related stress has become a danger to our health and well-being. However, incorporating some relatively simple and inexpensive techniques can help you safely navigate through life’s minefields with less damage to your body and mind, keeping you healthy for yourself and your family.
Elizabeth graduated with a degree in Public Health Administration before relocating with her family to Seattle. She is currently writing, and her favorite topics include health care, work-life balance, and travel.