Stress in the workplace is very real and can affect anyone, irrespective of the type of job you have. This stress when it becomes unmanageable may very easily lead to addiction in some form or another.
It is of vital importance to try to keep your working hours to an acceptable level, wherever possible. When you leave your job to go home don’t take work with you on your phone or computer. When you are on holiday or over the weekend try to refrain from checking your e-mails or voicemails every 10 minutes and take the opportunity to relax and enjoy your time.
Let us first consider what stress really is and then reflect on how it affects our lives and the lives of those around us. In the workplace, for example, when the workload becomes too much for us to handle and the pressure increases and we try to complete the task allotted to us by a deadline. Your body reacts to this pressure and it discharges very strong hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals when released affect your behaviour in different ways:
- Your heart rate increases
- Blood pressure rises
- Digestive system is affected
- Sleep pattern changes
- Even your immune system is affected
It is important then to be able to know when this pressure in your system is starting to become too much for you to handle. Some areas of concern to consider:
- When you have spent a hard day at work, but you tend to feel that you have achieved very little.
- You have no desire to go to work most days of the week
- Your family start to complain about the number of hours you spend at work
- There is no time for you to relax or exercise
- Anger about your job leaves you feeling helpless
- When the work is done, you find it very difficult to relax without a drink, cigarette or drugs.
That being said we must consider what affect the stress and pressure have on our health. It can result in the following:
- Problem with concentration
- Anxiety and mood disorders
In an individual affected in this way due to workplace stress and pressure the risk of succumbing to abusive substances is very real in order to try to cope. You start to smoke and eventually you’re having two packs of cigarettes a day. Every five minutes you must take a break and go outside to have a smoke. This seems to calm you, but has other detrimental health consequences. The same with drinking, you get home and have a glass of wine to relax. The glass of wine may move to a bottle and then to something even stronger. Without realizing it you are moving towards a growing addiction problem.
Some jobs are more stressful than others, take for example law enforcement. They have to go out every day and face danger, similar to fire fighters. These people have to deal with high stress levels every day. It may be nice to have a drink at the end of the day to take the edge off. Starting off with smoking or drinking can then lead to more serious addictions if not dealt with.
We need to find a balance between work and life. With the stress that you face every day it will not be easy; as work itself can be very addictive. If you find yourself in a situation that you are not sure what to do, look for the following signs in your life.
- Do you have problems at work for example, are you about to lose your job
- Is there a problem at home, a pending divorce or frequent arguments
- Are you experiencing financial problems
- Is your health causing problems such as headaches or lack of sleep?
- Are you battling with emotional problems such as low self-esteem or the feeling that you are unable to manage your life
If any of these or other related problems are evident in your life, do not revert to abusive substances as a self-medication in answer to your situation. It is much easier to go for counselling or even to talk to your manager in order to assist in reducing the work load or even to transfer you to another department. Your well-being and family is more important than any job you cannot handle anymore.