Originally created 03/05/02

Age old question



Q: I re-entered the work force after being retired for 10 years. Do you have any advice for handling the stress of the modern workplace? - B.C., North Augusta

A: The advent of the technological age was supposed to make our lives easier and and provide us with extra time to enjoy life. It seems, however, that the computer age has provided us with plenty of ways to do things more quickly - including wear ourselves out!

Workplace stress can affect our lives and be quite damaging to overall health.

According to the Institute of HeartMath, feelings of anger or resentment can damage the heart by decreasing the organ's pumping efficiency. To counter this damage, we must find ways to deal with these unpleasant feelings. Keep a picture of a family member, friend, or pet on hand at all times. Or, focus on a pleasant memory of a vacation, special event or upcoming treat. Like the saying goes, "Find a happy place," not only to regain control of the situation but to help your heart as well.

If you feel fatigued, angry or anxious, you may be experiencing stress. The same goes for persistent symptoms of ulcers, indigestion, headaches, insomnia, tight muscles, feelings of hopelessness and poor appetite. People who are highly stressed have been found to develop colds more easily than others and have problems resolving conflicts in other areas of life. In addition, ongoing stress contributes to such serious health conditions as heart disease.

It has been estimated that nearly 3/4 of all Americans experience frequent stress-related symptoms such as those listed above. In fact, the Wellness Councils of America estimate that nearly one million people in this country are absent from work each day as a result, and over 1/3 of all workers want to quit their jobs because of work-related stress.

Before you quit, wait! You simply need to take control. Recognizing the damaging effects of stress as well as wanting to change for the better can help you overcome workplace stress.

First, open lines of communication with others at your office. Avoid complaining just for the sake of complaining and pitting groups or individuals against one another. Instead, seek support of your colleagues. Talk about issues that are not work-related to allow an outlet for your stress.

Enlist the help of supervisors in combating workplace stress as well. They can help develop training and support programs at your office.

Next, take control of your schedule. Make time for healthy eating, exercise, prayer or meditation and sleep. Use your personal leave or vacation benefits and make time for those things that matter most to you. Adopt a positive attitude and remember to look at the big picture. Learn to accept those things you cannot control and set realistic expectations for yourself and your work.

If you have a question or would like additional information, please write to Shirley McIntosh, University Hospital Senior's Club, 2803 Wrightsboro Road, Suite 51, Augusta, GA 30909.