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If You Hate Your Job…
By Eli Bay   Printer Friendly Version

A study conducted by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare found that the best predictor of heart disease was not any of the physical risk factors (smoking, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, obesity and diabetes) but rather job dissatisfaction. The second biggest predictor was "overall unhappiness". In fact, most people under the age of fifty who have had their first heart attack have none of the major physical risk factors for cardiac disease.

Did you know that more heart attacks occur on Monday mornings at or around 9:00 a.m. than during any other time of the week? The long-term strain of a stressful job takes its toll over time and presumably the stress of returning to an unhappy work situation after a weekend away can become the catalyst for the physical breakdown.

This means that for your overall physical health as well as for your mental and emotional well being, you would be wise to get your act together and find a job that you enjoy. If that is not feasible for you right now, ample research suggests that you should seek ways to help you shift your perceptions about the current job and/or cultivate areas of enjoyment outside of work by taking up hobbies, volunteering, focusing on family, service, etc.

Unfortunately, many people can only aspire to find a satisfying job. In the meantime, they have to manage in a situation that may be less than fulfilling. In such a situation, personal strategies for the self-regulation of the job stress would be a wise investment of time and energy. Ample research demonstrates that while you may not be able to avoid exposure to stress at work, you can effectively manage its effects and prevent the damaging results.

One of the best means to coexist with stress is develop skills that enable you to be able to periodically unwind from it. Accessing an unusual but measurable state of deep, healing rest called "the relaxation response" has been proven to counteract most of the negative effects of stress. If done four or five times a week for fifteen or twenty minutes before bed time, or on your lunch hour, or when you return from work, or upon awakening in the morning, it is possible to break out of stress/arousal state for long enough periods to allow every system and organ in the body to heal, balance and restore.

When the relaxation response is elicited with some regularity, many surprising benefits appear. Anxiety, headaches, depression, allergies, insomnia, eczema, herpes, asthma, fatigue, indigestion, chest pains, impotence, anger and other "rust" of life often clear up or are significantly reduced. Productivity rises. Memory, concentration and creativity improve. People become more positive and optimistic and happier.

Not least, job satisfaction measurably increases. In a study done by Martin Shain of The Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, and published in the book, Healthier Workers, job satisfaction increased by 33% for the participants of our short Beyond Stress training program.

So, whereas stress may be unavoidable, it is possible to counteract many of its debilitating effects. As Ursula LeGuin so beautifully put it, "It is good to have an end to journey towards but it is the journey that matters, in the end". So relax and enjoy the journey.

© 1996, Eli Bay empowers people to successfully co-exist with change and stress, and offers twenty-first century survival skills through keynotes, workshops, television and audio/video learning systems he teaches the practical "how to" of adaptive self-renewal to individuals and organizations.


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