When it comes to pressure and anxiety and stress - no one understands those feelings better than "hard workers." These are the people, who especially during highly stressful and challenging times, will "rise to the occasion and work - even harder - and longer. That's certainly a wonderful attribute BUT - if you don't make time for yourself and to take care of yourself, then successes and accomplishments, as well as "triumph over adversity" may come at a huge cost to your health.
High pressure jobs and long hours take a terrible toll on people, even those WHO THINK they are coping. A recent study looked at the "7 worst habits of workaholics:"
(1) You forget to relax - some stress can be good, keeping you alert, engaged and motivated. But too much stress without a counter-balance of relaxation moments can be a recipe for increasing risk of: cancer, heart disease, headaches, upset stomach, sleeping problems, muscle tension, weight gain, high blood pressure, chest pains.
(2) Eating on the go - Shoveling food in your mouth between meetings, conferences, phone calls and deadlines is a recipe for disaster - unless you are being vigilant with your choices. Choose high fiber complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, small amounts of healthy fats and kep fruit and veggie snacks handy for "quick pick me ups."
(3) Short-changing your sleep hours for work - Even busy professionals need sleep and skimping on sleep can mean irritability, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, poor judgement, and it has certainly been linked to obesity. Examine your sleep hygiene and see if choices you are making (caffeinated drinks, bringing work to bed) are making things worse.
(4) Skipping exercise - Your body was not designed to sit immobile at a desk for 8-10 hours. You need to get in exercise in the form of walking breaks, stretching breaks and then find a solid amount of time to exercise - it will help with concentration and also aid in reducing stress, not to mention reducing the risk of a variety of health conditions.
(5) Going to work when sick - Frankly we don't want to catch what you have and coming to work ill means you often prolong the illness or so deplete your immune system that you get a secondary more serious illness. Get rest - chill out - get better and THEN come back to work.
(6) Too much alcohol - the rule of thumb is if you don't drink - don't start; if you do drink then one drink for women, 2 drinks for men at night is the absolute cut off. Beyond that, you can end up with hangovers, be dependent on alcohol for stress relief and that means your habit is counter-productive to your performance on the job.
(7) Skipping an annual physical - for most people that is the only opportunity, once a year, to pick up "silent illnesses" like hypertension or early diabetes; an opportunity to find out if your weight is appropriate and to talk to your doctor about job stress and how it may be affecting you. It's a way to find out what screening tests are due and how to prevent disease.
If you don't "ponder" these 7 habits and how they are reflected in your life, something will give at some point and the end result may be your missing weeks or even months of work - because of choices you are making in the name of "productivity."
Published On: September 25, 2008