The world continues to move at an increasingly rapid pace, and for many, it is a struggle to keep up. Between employment (or lack thereof), family, partners, friends and struggling to find time for oneself, it often seems as though the world is almost moving to fast to bear. Stress and burnout is becoming an increasingly common concern across all professions, and it seems as though there is an increasing amount of work-home conflict that is responsible for that.
A recent study that examined the lives of some 4,500 Swedish twins took a look at both work-home conflict, where work demands interfere with one’s private life, and home-work conflict, where home responsibilities interfere with work demands. There was a significant association between work-home conflict and burnout, which researchers defined as depression, feeling run down, and emotional exhaustion. What researchers found was that women tended to feel a sense of burnout more frequently, and their sense of stress came mostly from work-home conflicts. Both genders appeared to feel a sense of stress as a result of home-work conflict, and it was further confirmed that work-home conflict is a serious cause of health concerns, particularly in women.
In a survey by Northwestern National Life, up to 40 percent of working Americans said their jobs were very or extremely stressful. In a survey by the Families and Work Institute, roughly a quarter or workers said they felt burned out by the demands of their job and trying to balance work and home responsibilities. While there are still some employers in the workplace that believe that stress is inherent to any job, the research has actually shown that job stress contributes to increased absenteeism, higher degrees of health issues, and higher employee turnover. While employers are encouraged to mitigate the conflict that can occur between work and home responsibilities, what researchers have noted is that employees also have to take the time and use self-regulation skills in order to decrease the risk of burnout in themselves.
Stress can be deadly, in some cases, and it is important to note that without adequate self-care strategies, health problems can worsen, particularly if there have been no methods of stress management put into place. Employees need to take the time and learn how to effectively manage their stress in order to eliminate the risk of absenteeism, improve their personal sense of well being and also improve their productivity. There are many who believe that their work productivity is tied in with their sense of self-worth, and if they are stressed, this can have a cumulative negative effect on a person’s self-esteem. They may look at their ability to produce work and realize that it is on the decline; in realizing that their productivity has declined, they may question their ability to even get work done, and that can lead to a sense of apathy. They may decide “why even bother?” and ultimately slip further into depression. Reliance on self-medication, such as alcohol or drugs of any stripe, may be the result as the person suffering from stress and burnout may seek ways to escape the pain they ultimately feel as a result of it.
Stress and burnout can be mitigated, provided the person experiencing the feeling takes the time to engage in positive stress management strategies. Whether that is exercise, yoga, meditation or even simply taking the time to breathe, the use of stress management strategies can go a long way towards preventing stress and burnout, which continues to be a growing problem throughout North America.
By Christina St-Jean