Q&A With a Work Burnout and Stress Expert

Got stress on the job?  Who doesn’t!
In a tough economy, many bosses are expecting more work for less pay. Workers are being expected to do more with fewer resources.  High levels of unemployment cause “employed” folks to have high levels of anxiety.  High stress levels can lead to illness. Illness can lead to time off work.  Time off work can lead to unemployment. YIKES!

It’s  a  “catch 22” that no worker wants to be caught up in. But it’s a common dynamic in today’s workplace, regardless as to one’s industry or occupation.

To help to manage workplace stress better, and learn more about this little word that has huge impact, we have joining us today Dr. Serena Wadhwa of TriQual Living Center.   

Q. Dr. Wadhwa, are there gender differences in the way men and women deal with stress? Who’s better?

A. Yes, some research indicates that women tend to deal with stress by looking for support, while men may look to problem-solve. This is partly related to the chemicals released during times of stress. Of course, these are overgeneralizations, but the release of certain chemicals do influence certain behaviors. As far as who’s better, I can’t answer that question. It’s just that men and women deal with things differently and this is something necessary to keep in mind.

Q. Blogging seems to be a popular way that many workers today vent and deal with work woes. Would you advise it?

A. Venting can be both a helpful and harmful strategy to deal with frustration. Yes, individuals want to “get out” what’s bothering them and venting (whether through blogging or verbalizing)  can be cathartic and help the person feel emotionally better, as  the energy created, was discharged, however, when the same incident is vented again, it may “cement” the problem. Blogging seems to be different than journaling because of the often publicized nature.  Individuals may say things they later regret and if blogged, it’s posted for others to possibly see. Additionally, venting doesn’t necessarily deal with the issue.  For example, if I have a boss who has unrealistic expectations and expects me to work 12-14 hour days, venting about him doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it may reinforce my sense of helplessness and lack of control, rather than helping me seeking options to reduce these feelings and thoughts.

Q.What are some of the most common reasons for stress in the workplace ?

A.  I frequently hear that being understaffed and paperwork increase levels of stress. Other “stressors” I’ve heard of include demanding bosses or co-workers, tension among co-workers, scheduling issues,  and various aspects related to employee’s clients.

Q. Other than quitting, how does one deal with a supervisor who’s less than “super”? :-)

A.  First, it’s important to look at what you are expecting from your supervisor and how this influences your anxiety, stress ,etc. Secondly, ask yourself what you need/ want from your supervisor. Third, work on assertive ways to make these requests and if needed, get a professional to help with developing assertive skills, working through the anxiety of asking for what you want and dealing with boundaries. I often have clients that believe that they can’t be assertive/ set boundaries and the fact is, they’ve never learned how to develop this skill.  Finally, if need be, go through the necessary chain to file a complaint.

Q.Would you say that married people have less stress comparatively than their single peers?

A.  It depends on the marriage. If the couple communicates, understands the individualized ways that each manages stress and each partner is able to set boundaries, assert needs and wants, then maybe. Each marriage is different. It really depends on how the couple works together.

Q. What can you tell us about “toxic personalities” on the job?

A.  Avoid them!! Seriously! Toxic personalities can drain the life right out of you. It it’s difficult to avoid them, be assertive, set boundaries, utilize relaxation techniques, recognize that the issue may not be yours and seek professional help if needed.

Q. What about the role of the “power breakfast”? Does how we eat help our coping mechanisms in handling stress?

A. I’m not a nutritionist or dietitian, but yes, in general what we eat does play a role in our moods, energy levels, stress responses and overall mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Q. Are some occupations more prone to stress than others?

A. Yes, some surveys suggested that working in the emergency room as a physician or nurse, pilots and other similar professions are high stress jobs.

Q. How does one know when he should seek “professional” assistance in handling stress?
What services do you offer in this regard?

A.   When there is an increase in sleep changes, appetite, being more irritable, losing pleasure in activities that the person usually liked, an increase in withdrawing from family and friends, racing thoughts, physical problems, behaviors that seem out of character, these may be signs that something is going on and that professional help may help identify.  I offer a variety of services that work with these issues. Individual therapy is one-on-one and initially I provide some strategies to help manage these signs and then see if there’s underlying issues that may be contributing to the increase. In workshops and seminars, it’s usually in a group setting and techniques are provided in an educational manner. I also have some products that may help with different aspects of stress. I plan on having a blog as well.

On behalf of Jobacle and its readers, thanks so much, Dr. Wadhwa, for your time and expertise.

This is a post by Jennifer Brown Banks, a veteran freelance writer and pro blogger. She holds a B.A. in Business Management. Visit her site @ http://penandprosper.blogspot.com/

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