Living in Dubai has been great for me professionally because of the work culture that demands perfection every hour of the day. But it has also made me a beautifully stressed out and workaholic mum which sometimes can get in the way of things I want to do, particularly when I want to indulge myself in feminine indulgences like long spa and salon visits.
Stress in the workplace has become an occupational health and safety risk worldwide and research shows that a majority of work-related stress is borne out of the daily grind and the requirement for more in less time by employees. Our need for speed, convenience, and instant gratification also drives our stress reactions.
Since stress by definition is the body’s response physiologically and psychologically to a “dangerous situation”, it stands to reason that what is perceived as dangerous in the work place is very individual. Research shows that women’s stress in the workplace is related more to lack of balance and demands of home and work combined, and men’s workplace stress related more to the job.
Research also shows that women in relationships do more than half of household maintenance and childcare. Therefore, a woman working in an environment with little flexibility or choice would be a greater risk of distress and needs to get more assertive.
Interestingly, women’s stress issues do not vary significantly. Women are multi-taskers by nature and enfold tasks within tasks. Work, family and home are not separate and the issues around balance prevail regardless of working for yourself or someone else. Women who own their own business have the same childcare and home issues as their sisters who are working for someone else. However, women, working in their own business are likely to be pursuing a passion and adopt a mindset that allows a positive attitude.
We need to recognize that stress is a killer and not to be taken lightly. Stress related illnesses are the leading cause of death and disability in women today. Recognition is the first step in any change process.
One way to relieve pressure is take real breaks from work. If your business requires that you be on the job at “normal” lunch times or other break times, make sure that you find time at other times in the day. Studies show that small breaks actually increase our efficiency, so you really can “afford” it. Walking outside can work wonders and in the summer, maybe a quick 30 minute walk in the mall will help. (If you can resist the Dubai Summer Surprises sales)
In many cases, a cluttered space, equipment that needs repaired, lack of organization, tasks that need to be delegated, noise level, ergonomically unhealthy workplaces, and any number of other tolerations are worth the effort to resolve because in the long run, they end up being regular reasons for stress.
I used to believe that having coffee in the morning will give me a jump start to day. However, caffeine, by its very nature, causes a physiological stress response. Take steps to reduce or cut out caffeine all together and increase your water intake. Smoothies are also great ways to get a great boost on the go. Yogurt, fruit, juice and a blender and you can start your day with protein, good carbohydrate, calcium and vitamins.
Adequate sleep provides our bodies with chemical balancing and healing at a cellular level. Find out what needs to “give” to get you to bed for 7-8 hrs of sleep. Eating a diet of real food (limit or eliminate additives and chemicals) that fuels our bodies gives us a reserve to run on during stressful time. Exercise, though hard to timetable in our packed schedules is a great stress reducer.
Workplace stress through our own lack of voice is becoming an issue. Even employers must take notice and take steps if they notice stress among staff. For those of us who run our own businesses, we are our own employers. As women, we need to discern what work stress is.
As women, we need to acknowledge what we can do for ourselves to reduce stress. We need to remember that old saying, if you don’t look after yourself, no one else will. Take care of yourself and your body and everything else will be fine.
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