Is your Job Killing You?

Is your Job Killing You?

Is your Job Killing You?

Chronic stress can cause a range of health issues. Tackle stress by identifying whether you are burning out and if so, take steps to organise your time, prioritise your responsibilities and take time out for yourself.

We all get stressed – it is a normal human response to a perceived threat or danger. In fact, the stress response – increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and quick breathing – is a normal physical response that puts your body in ‘turbo’: your heartbeat is faster, your blood pressure and rate of

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breathing increases, your muscles tighten in anticipation of action and your senses are sharpened.

The dangers of chronic stress

The stress response is what gives you the edge when you need it: to push through the last leg of a race, jump away from a falling object or close an important business deal. But too much stress can mean that your stress response is always ‘on’ – and that stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin flood your system for long periods.

Over time, excessive stress can turn productivity into poor performance. Instead of being more responsive and alert, you become the opposite – sluggish, moody and unable to focus. Chronic stress can lead to even more dangerous outcomes. Studies indicate that chronic stress is linked with high blood pressure, reduced immune response, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, infertility, aging. Long-term stress can make you more vulnerable to anxiety problems and depression.

Is your Job Killing You 2

The burnout checklist

How do you distinguish regular stress from chronic stress? The answer lies in how overwhelmed you feel and if your stress and anxieties are affecting the way you live, socialise and work.

If you answer ‘yes’ to more than half of these questions, you may be burnt-out.

  1. I feel defeated constantly and can’t be bothered to try at work any more
  2. I am frustrated with my work and work performance but can’t motivate myself anymore
  3. I am sad and/or angry for no apparent reason; these feelings are overwhelming
  4. I keep forgetting things
  5. I am irritable and tend to take it out on the people around me
  6. I avoid my family and friends because socialising is too tiring
  7. I am always tired even though I’ve gotten enough sleep
  8. My worries about

    work prevent me from sleeping

  9. I get sick a lot and I take very long to recover
  10. My job performance has worsened
  11. Weekends are no longer enjoyable and do not offer any respite
  12. I am drinking/smoking/taking pills to feel better
  13. I no longer enjoy talking to people
  14. I can’t concentrate on work or any other activity
  15. I dread going in to work each day
  16. I feel that although I work very hard I accomplish little
  17. Sex isn’t worth the effort
  18. The no longer enjoy the things I used to enjoy
  19. When I’m not working, I can’t find the energy to do anything and I keep worrying about work
  20. My feelings about work interfere with my personal life and/or appetite


Manage your stress

If you’re feeling burnt-out, it’s important to manage your stress before it results in detrimental health effects. Try taking a step back from your stressors and think about these possible solutions. The main ways to reduce stress is to manage expectations, set priorities and learn to ‘say no’.

Make a list of the situations that cause you stress: By identifying stress triggers, you can think about how to deal with them. Either fix the situation or your attitude towards it.

Assess your own capabilities: How much you can handle? Set some realistic targets about what you can and cannot do and also set realistic expectations about what you can expect from others. This will help manage your own expectations and help you prioritise.

Set your priorities and stick with them:
When you have multiple responsibilities, plan a To Do List or calendar to list in order of importance what you should tackle first. This will help you focus on what is truly important, estimate the realistic time frame needed for each task and manage your workload. Be ready to delegate tasks if you have to.

Don’t sweat the small stuff:
Plans change, people have their own way of doing things and situations can take unexpected turns. Try to set aside the things you cannot help or change; be flexible about change, failure and unexpected outcomes.

Take time outs:
It is important – especially when you are busy – to set boundaries between your personal and professional life. A time out for personal reflection, hobbies and other pursuits can help you recharge and be more productive. When engaged in personal time, commit 100% to it. Turn off the phone and don’t check your email. Taking time to nurture yourself and your interests can help you regain mental equilibrium.


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