Don’t confuse having a career with having a life. — Hillary Clinton
The director of our team has returned to the office after being gone half the week. This was unusual, considering he was always around working on something. Finally, he returned and told us what happened.
We found out he had a heart attack and was rushed to the emergency room. While he wasn’t proud to admit it, we all knew that it was due to stress.
He was the type of guy who always had meetings, running from place to place trying to make it all happen. If you were to look at his calendar, it would have “busy” written all over it.
Don’t get me wrong, our boss wasn’t some angry person no one wanted to be around. People respect and look up to him. The problem was he slowly became trapped by his work; it changed him from a productive employee to a stress ball waiting to break.
This narrative is all too common nowadays when we are willing to do anything to chase that “American Dream.” Many of us feel like work has us on a leash; it tells us where to go, what to do, and how we should spend our time even while we are out of the office.
Despite acknowledging this in our environment, we continue to follow old habits. We brush off what happens and feel like we are an exception to the rule. Nothing can happen to me, right?
Most people think this way, yet these problems are still happening and don’t look like they’re going anywhere anytime soon. Since we still need to work and make a living, let’s focus on how we can deal with the stress.
Working ourselves like a machine might work for a while, but over the long haul, it’ll only lead to frustration, fatigue, and poor results. Take breaks every once in a while for a chance to recharge, and refocus. Use this time to take a few deep breaths, drink more water or take a few steps. Meditation, water, and exercise can do wonders for the mind and body.
What are your limits? We all have limits, and while they can change with time and practice, figure out where they stand right now. Don’t overburden yourself with too much. We can only do one thing at a time, so focus on what’s most important. Then move onto the next thing, and so on. Turn off any unnecessary distractions that try to steal your attention.
Ask for help
Many people feel too proud to ask for help. They feel that they can figure it out on their own, or they will come across as stupid if they don’t. All the while, the stress, and the confusion feed off one another, and we struggle to figure out how to work on the task. Give it a try, then ask someone for help if you still don’t get it. It’ll make your coworkers feel helpful, and it’ll help keep you moving along. Just make sure to be nice about it and repay the favor when they need it.
Practice healthy habits
What we do outside of work can influence how we perform while at work. Is the TV or smartphone getting in the way of getting enough sleep? Shut it off. Is the fast food making you feel lethargic? Eat more fruits and veggies and prepare your own food. The internet is full of recipes and makes even a basic chef feel like a pro. Too many thoughts running all around your head? Take a few minutes to meditate each day to clear the mind. The internet has great guides and resources for all of this, look them up and find one that works for you.
Who says children are the only ones that get to have fun? Break up the monotony of work and go do something you enjoy. Go on a hike, spend time with friends, read a book, draw a picture, do something that’ll put a smile on your face and put you in a better mood. Many things that feel good, like laughing, being happy, and helping others, are good for you.
My director, fortunately, is okay and used this incident as a reality check to change his habits and live his life in a way that supports his health and happiness. Not only has his work performance increased, but he feels better about life while he’s at it. Better yet, he’s promoting a healthy work ethic that we’ve all been able to learn from. I no longer look at being busy as a badge of honor. Who needs that silly little badge when you have health, happiness, and wellness on your side?