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Everyone experiences stress in their lives, and many experience stress at work. Most are able to deal with pressures on the job without it seriously affecting the rest of their lives. At times, however, that pressure may trigger depression and anxiety and an inability to function adequately at work as well as in other areas of one’s life. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of debilitating stress and to be an advocate for your own health and wellness.

Be Aware of Signs and Symptoms of Job Related Stress and Depression

  • Significant changes in sleep/appetite/weight
  • Feeling pressured and burned out
  • Deep sighing throughout the day
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering important things
  • Feeling irritable, frustrated, angry and snapping at others
  • Decreased interest, motivation and energy
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Feeling as though you cannot shut your mind down
  • Losing pleasure in life
  • Feeling guilty about the impact these changes have upon your life
  • Feelings of hopelessness/helplessness/despair
  • Thoughts of suicide or self harming behaviors

Take Care of Yourself Within the Work Setting

  • Remind yourself that you work for a living; your job is not your life
  • Develop healthy communication skills to appropriately assert yourself and communicate your needs with supervisors and managers
  • Prioritize tasks first thing in the morning. Do the high priority and unpleasant tasks first; then reward yourself with less stressful tasks as the day unfolds
  • Break down tasks into accomplishable steps and do what you can in the moment
  • Remember that you can only control one thing…YOU. Be mindful not to try to control other people, places, situations
  • Develop healthy relationships within the work setting, which can make the day feel much more pleasant
  • Reframe your circumstances and remember the positives associated with your work situation

Take Care of Yourself Outside of the Work Setting

Seek Balance in your life. All work and no time to recharge your battery is not healthy for anyone and a prescription for burnout.

  • Spend time with your family and friends; remember to include your pets
  • Set aside time for yourself to be alone and be aware of what refills your tank; do it
  • Engage in intellectual pursuits which exercise and challenge the mind: learn new things; play memory games; take a class
  • Keep your Spiritual frame of reference in mind; whatever that means for you. Go to Church; remember the greater good; know that you are not alone
  • Be sure to take care of yourself physically: Move your body. This is one of the most important and productive ways to reduce physical and emotional tension. Take medications and vitamins as prescribed or discussed with your physician. Eat healthy! Smaller, healthy, more frequent meals throughout the day will help to keep your blood sugars stable and reduce physical/emotional/intellectual stress on the body. Get enough sleep. 7‐8 hours per night with consistent sleep‐wake times is vital to health and wellness
  • Partake in a hobby that you are passionate about
  • Take care of yourself emotionally by reading self help books and possibly seeking therapy to help you set appropriate goals and support you in those endeavors
  • Consider volunteering some of your time. Giving back to your community within a reasonable time perspective can be extremely rewarding

Know the Appropriate Levels of Care

  • Outpatient Individual Therapy/Medication Management
  • Intensive Outpatient Therapy (IOP)
  • Partial Hospitalization (5 days per week; home at night)
  • Inpatient Hospitalization

Many are able to be treated on an outpatient basis by their primary care physicians, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, psychologists and mental health therapists. When the symptoms become extremely debilitating, however, it will be important to consider a higher level of care. The Health and Wellness Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) has been of tremendous assistance in helping those on short term or long term disability from work prepare themselves to return to a productive and rewarding lifestyle both on the job and in general. It is a 7 week, 3 day per week, 3 hour per day program. The main goal is to teach individuals healthy coping skills rather than place them on leave from work with no guidance, which often results in relapse of symptoms. I often use the analogy of learning to drive a car. Our children watch us on a daily basis drive all over for approximately 15.5 years of their lives. At that age, however, we do not hand them the keys and expect them to drive. We teach them. The Health and Wellness IOP is very similar. Patients are taught skills which prepare them to return to work and improve the quality of their lives rather than simply being placed on short term or long term disability and expected to improve or even worse, simply exist.

Be an Advocate for an Appropriate Level of Care

  • Seek consultation from a licensed mental health professional
  • Be diligent about complying with their medication and therapy recommendations
  • Consider short term disability from work if your symptoms are seriously affecting your work performance
  • Don’t retreat to home, often under the covers, waiting and hoping to get better
  • Be proactive and discuss possible higher levels of care with your healthcare or mental health professionals

Be an advocate for your own health and well‐being. Don’t allow job related stressors to steal your joy and peace. Be proactive by trying the above steps. If you cannot seem to be successful in those endeavors, consider being an advocate for an appropriate level of care to get yourself back to a life that is worth living…and not just working!

‐John A. Glovan, PsyD

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The Behavioral Wellness Group is a counseling center providing therapy and behavioral health services and assessment including chemical dependency/drug addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and other therapies. We also provide mental health or psychological assessments, and psychological,educational and bariatric testing. Providing services to the following communities in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake County: Cleveland, Ashtabula, Beachwood, Chardon, Concord, Eastlake, Euclid, Fairport, Geneva, Grand River, Highland Heights, Kirtland, Leroy, Lyndhurst, Madison, Mayfield, Mayfield Heights, Painesville, Pepper Pike, Perry, Russell, Solon, South Euclid, Thompson, Wickliffe, Willoughby, Willoughby Hills, and Willowick, from our offices in Mentor, Ohio.