If you’re feeling an increasing amount of work stress, consider this: It seems important now, but it isn’t.
The night of the Sydney siege where people held their breath, hoping the hostages would get out alive, I was holding my breath for another reason.
My mother was having 5 hours of surgery to have most of her bowel removed. My mother has cancer. They removed the growth, but she begins chemo as soon as she is well enough.
But my mother’s fight with cancer and the night it gave my entire family is not the point of this article. What my mother, the mile-a-minute, “must do everything now”, mad keen renovator said is.
“You don’t have to do everything. In the end, it doesn’t mean a thing. All those years I spent up a ladder and doing things like that are not important. You’ve got to slow down, girl. It seems important now, but it isn’t. Believe me, it isn’t.”
And you know something? She’s right.
Sometimes, we give way more than we should
As health writers, we give a lot of ourselves – and that’s one of the main reasons why we experience work stress. We give ourselves to medical research and study.
We write about a new medical breakthrough, addiction, mental health issues, abuse and how the body fails us. We seed these conversations into our curious minds enough to flower them onto paper.
And we do it as we sit at our desks, lamenting deadlines, skipping lunch and forgetting to enjoy the rain on the window panes or the beauty of a sunlight sky.
Thinking about new and interesting ways we fight disease or conversely, the ways we are slowly killing ourselves, has a tremendous impact.
We spend time delving into symptoms of health topics and diseases – and we start to see them.
Or when the latest report on that food additive, we become dietary obsessive.
Maybe our kids are the ones who have all the right support in terms of health. And yet we lament giving them water bottles that we later find out that contain BPA.
Or maybe we simply have these ideas knocking on the back of our heads, growing like guilt soaked cancers as we do nothing other than ache from another long day sitting down and seriously regretting the Tim-Tams we had for lunch.
This year should be the time for change – not work stress
As a health writer, you know from all the study you have done that you operate better when you are well rested.
You also know that nutrition helps with concentration.
And memory is improved by giving yourself time to daydream and contemplate.
We know that working too hard can impair your thinking.
That sitting at a desk all day, every day is bad for your physical health.
And that your mental health can suffer if you are too anxious and experience work stress for too long.
So, let’s make a commitment to each to reduce work stress
To reduce the amount of work stress in your life, shift your focus to:
- Making sure you have adequate breaks during the day
- Learning the art of saying no to unreasonable requests
- Seeking out empathy and connection by participating in online communities
- Cutting down on the coffee that over revs us and replacing it with water and tea
- Leaving room for the writing you enjoy doing outside of work demands
- Taking time to sit on the lawn and do nothing
- Forgetting about the feast or famine mentality that often drives us to take on more work and stress than we should and
- Adopting some self-care on a regular basis.
When it comes to managing work stress, you get what you give
Making time for you is just as important as your client’s deadlines. And making sure you can enjoy your good physical and mental health should be the number one aim.
Because although it’s a well-worn cliché, remember, without your health you don’t have an awful lot else.
Just ask my Mum.
Rebekah Lambert makes her living as marketing, content creation and copywriting freelancer, Unashamedly Creative. Rebekah has just begun a mission to improve the mental health and wellness outcomes for freelancers and entrepreneurs. You can follow her journey via Twitter amd Facebook.