Work & illness

We don’t stop to think about work or the stress we get from it, but working life can not only be stressful, but it also has the potential to make us ill.

We won’t always be consciously aware that we’re stressed, but the signs are there. Working full time and working overtime, can be extremely stressful, particularly if there is no let up. The amount of work we’re expected to do, can leave us stressed and long-term stress can impact our health. We work so hard, we forget to have a personal life.

It may not always be obvious to us, but anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, depression and general malaise are symptoms of the bigger picture and that if we took work out of the equation, those symptoms would probably disappear. Instead of asking ourselves questions about work, we continue to treat our symptoms, without thinking twice about why we have physical symptoms.

Stress and anxiety will always be part of the work scenario if we don’t deal with work issues, or at least slow down. There are many of us who deal with stress at work and although we may make those connections, we’re often reluctant to do anything about it. Unfortunately, we may not always be in position to change jobs, particularly if we have a young family, or a mortgage to pay, so we put up with our circumstances.

Luckily for me after 18 months of stress at work, my life changed when I found another job, but I had to find myself another job first and that added to my stress. It’s only when our circumstances change that we look back and equate how much we were stressed. After 18 months, my symptoms of anxiety, magically disappeared and my life became normal as far as work was concerned.

Perhaps this is something we must all think about. Although we have to work, health and lifestyle must be part of the work scenario and we need to be in control of all of it. Unfortunately, stress not only accounts for 1-3 work absences, but also long-term illness, particularly around anxiety and depression.


16 Jan, 2017

2 thoughts on “Work & illness

  1. Yes, I do remember working so very hard but not taking a lot of time to really take a vacation like most people. It wasn’t like I had very good examples of how to live a normal life from my parents.

    The only way they dealt with their stress, was to either drink or take a handful of pills. It doesn’t do a lot of good to only treat the symptoms rather than deal with what is stressing you out in the first place.

    My symptoms were usually physical like having a sour stomach all the time and my intestines felt like they were tied in knots. Sadly, people just live with the stress their whole lives and then by the time they get old enough to retire, they’re too sick to enjoy it, if they haven’t already died from a heart attack.

    It does seem so very hard to find that right balance in life.

    1. Thanks Randy. I don’t know about your working life, but after a period of time, I was expected to do my mandatory hours plus any overtime they wanted me to do, but stress in work isn’t always about extended hours. Stress can also come from those around us who choose to make our lives difficult. In two different practices, I had both.

      As you have highlighted, when we’re stressed or struggle with anxiety, we may often turn to alcohol or drugs, the things that we think will make us feel better. Like you, I also had stomach ache, just thinking about what I had to deal with and what I had to come back to.

      Because I had been told leaving wasn’t an option until I could secure myself another job, leaving work on an afternoon was no better than coming back into work the next day. You’re right about finding a balance, but employers need to understand that too. That didn’t happen when I was working, but believe it is getting better.

      On anyone’s part, we need to be able to speak out, but we must always do it in a conciliatory way.

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