• Lori A. Jazvac

Is Your Job Causing You Stress: Break Out of the Vicious Cycle

Updated: Dec 29, 2019


Both of my parents worked rotating shifts in a noisy factory setting in Steeltown Hamilton. The pay was good. There was plenty of work and job security for those who leveraged a relentless work ethic and determination to get ahead.

While they tried to always eat healthy, get some exercise, and maintain an active spiritual life, working shifts often disrupted their mood, sleep, and circadian rhythms –– not to mention –– work-life balance.

If you currently work shifts or have worked shifts in the past, does this perpetual cycle seem familiar? Work –– sleep –– work –– work –– work –– loss of sleep –– fatigue –– stress –– increased stress –– potential health concerns.

Shift work has been known to impact career satisfaction, health, and even limit child-care and other lifestyle options. And now with the holidays here, working shifts can put a damper on social activities and quality family time.

Shifts and Work-Related Stress

Did you know that 30% of Canadians work shifts (non-standard hours)?

Lately, I’ve been hearing from clients that they don’t have time to tend to their personal life. Work simply takes up all their time and energy. Many clients work 10- to 12-hour rotating shifts. Some have two part-time jobs at minimum wage. Others work very long hours, including overtime and weekends. Work-related stress, in turn, is costing companies billions in sick days, overtime, and even turnover.

While shift work may be somewhat of a benefit for “night owls,” many don’t even see their families or friends as much as they would like to and, thus, experience career and personal dissatisfaction.

-- It's a constant attempt to survive the daily grind while driving 24/7 performance at peak levels --

Yet for many, working shifts is not a flexible choice, but a typical job requirement to keep up with a high-paying, yet strenuous job in a fast-paced environment such as healthcare, service sector, factory, or manufacturing plant.

Weighing the Facts About Shift Work

Statistics Canada reports that shift work is a critical stressor linked to serious physical health-related problems. Common health complaints include not only poor sleep, but cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and gastrointestinal disorders among others, including increased psychological distress.

Did you know that shifts can also worsen conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy?

Ongoing stress causes health problems, and health concerns impact productivity.

However, self-awareness and reflection are the keys to change.

Self-Reflection: Is It Time to Rethink Your Career Strategy?

How do you know when it is time for you to rethink your career strategy?

Consider these 10 questions by answering "yes" or "no" to the following:

1. Have you been with the company for a few years or even a decade and are seeing little personal or career growth? ­­­­____

2. Do you ever experience health problems, and how severe?­____

3. Are you arriving to work with a sense of doom or frustration or with feelings of wanting to quit due to working shifts? ­­­­____

4. Do you feel that you have too much responsibility to handle and not enough time to complete important tasks? ­­­­____

5. Do you believe that your skills and expertise could be better utilized elsewhere in a different role or different environment? ­­­­____

6. Has it been at least several months or years since your last promotion?____

7. Can you recall the last time you experienced a restful weekend or enjoyable vacation? ­­­­____

8. Are your personal goals being put on hold? ­­­­____

9. Are you experiencing any mental health-related symptoms including depression, anxiety, anger, or insomnia? ­­­­____

10. Are your relationships suffering? ­­­­­­­­____

If you have answered “yes” to any one or more of the above questions, it could be time to explore your options and rethink your career strategy.

How to Break out of the Vicious Cycle of Stress

Here are great strategies for breaking out of the vicious cycle of shift-related stress:

* Don't forget to take time out for you. Look after YOU!

* Be honest with yourself about what you want and need in your life. And don't be afraid to go after it.

* Set small, measurable goals. Then tackle long-term goals. Monitor your progress and seek support.

* Eliminate time-wasting activities. Focus on the important stuff.

* Seek professional support and constructive feedback.

* Consider outsourcing some activities in your life such as housekeeping, errands, or bookkeeping. This will free up time for other personal activities.

* Eat right, exercise, and do yoga along with meditation. Go for long walks and enjoy nature (sunsets or water), which is a stress-reliever.

* Go to the gym and find a trainer to support you in achieving your fitness goals. Keep yourself fit and healthy.

* Laugh. Laughing reduces stress! Watch comedies, hear or tell jokes, and engage in healthy humour.

* Find a hobby or interest that balances yourself and commit to it.

* Carve in some social activity time and you will feel better.

* Set boundaries.

* Know and respect your limits. Don't feel guilty about saying "no" when you have to.

* Keep a journal or log to track your success and milestones as well as your challenges and the strategies taken.

If you want to transition to a non-shift role or different industry, contact Creative Horizons Communications for career support and let’s position you for greater success in 2019!

Helpful Resources for Reading:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/shift-work-and-sleep

https://work.chron.com/depression-working-night-shift-25729.html

https://mic.com/articles/104550/what-working-long-hours-actually-does-to-your-body#.Jv5BBe9gC

http://www.hkpr.on.ca/Portals/0/PDF%20Files%20-%20Adults/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20Shift%20Work%20Resource.pdf

#jobrelatedstress #impactsofshiftwork #careerstrategy

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