Make Work Enjoyable

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

The evidence that prolonged stress causes mental and physical maladies is undeniable. Mental health experts estimate that about seventy percent of the visits to medical doctors today are in fact for stress-related illnesses.

According to the studies conducted by Northwestern National Life Insurance Company, 72 % have or sometime in their life had three or more stress-related conditions. The most frequently reported stress-related conditions, in that order, were tiredness, tight neck and shoulders, anger, anxiety, sleeplessness, and headaches. Stress directly contributes to these conditions by a physical action on the body. For example, continued severe stress may squeeze heart arteries, overstrain lungs, constrict blood vessels, tense muscles enough to create spasms, oversensitive the skin, and flood the system with stress hormones.

Using stress management techniques saves health costs and improves the quality of personal life. Northwestern National Life estimates that the average life-time cost of disability payments for a single-stress-related condition, like anxiety, depression, ulcer, colitis, high blood pressure, and chronic headaches, is $73,270, while, the average cost of psychologically rehabilitating a worker before he or she becomes disabled by that stress, is $2000.

Undoubtedly, workplace is one of the major sources of stress. According to a survey, four out of ten workers find their job very stressful and complain that the job stress can't let them be as effective and productive as they would like to be. When this survey was conducted, every four out of ten workers were thinking of quitting their job, or had quit their last job because of job-related stress. A quick turn over on the job is an expensive affair as the advertising, interviewing, and training a new person on the job costs big money. 

Many work organizations recognize the serious consequences of stress for their company's bottom line and employees' health and happiness. Many companies these days offer educational courses, stress screenings, and wellness centers to help employees with stress management. However, educational courses, relaxation techniques, and fitness exercises, can only provide limited benefits. If you want to obtain a significant relief, you have to ask yourself, "How do I produce stress? 

That's correct! We may not want to take any responsibility for our stress Work can be relaxing: but we are the ones who produce a large portion of our stress for ourselves. Needless to say that all stress is not inflicted on us by others or from the outside. 

If you want to convince Martians that human beings don't do anything else but complain all the time, don't send them to people's homes, clubs, barber shops, or football games, send them to where people work.  Workplace is the gym where we go to exercise our "gripe" muscle. Those who are in the management gripe about the workforce and the ones in the workforce gripe about the management. End result: frustration and discontent all around.

When someone tells us we did something incorrectly or explains how it is correctly done, rather than thanking the person for the correction, we gripe, "Nobody told me...." Second guessing is rampant at work--"They should have done ....." We never stop "shouldering" upon the workplace. All decisions are criticized. There are plenty of critics on both sides of the issue. Everyone has an opinion, but very few take the trouble of finding the relevant facts.

We are the same people who would go out of our way to help others on the street. We go out of our way to volunteers for community projects, but at the work place, we fiercely watch out against what is not explicitly written in our job description. We are kinder, gentler, and more forgiving as a person, but as a worker, we are often critical and unsparing, creating stress for ourselves and others.  

Most of us still carry the old thinking that workplace is a place for drudgery and if you want to play and have fun, go elsewhere. No wonder we can't wait to get out of the workplace at the end of the day. We bear the "pain" and boredom of weekdays so we can have fun and play over the weekend. 

Try to be cheerful and bubbly in the morning coming to work. Act as if you love your work and couldn't just wait to get there. Your colleagues may think you have gone crazy and may want to commit you to a hospital, but you will knock the stress out of your life significantly.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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