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Surviving stress at work

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Your mobile phone won't stop ringing, your inbox is overflowing and deadlines are piling up. You're working longer hours and there seems no end to the increasing demands on you. Fed up and feeling undervalued and unappreciated, you struggle to remember why you liked your job in the first place. Sound familiar?

Spend a reasonable amount of time in the lunchroom of many workplaces and chances are you will hear staff talking about feeling 'stressed out'.

One reason for this is that many workers feel they have very little control over their work lives. Workplace stress, like other forms of stress, occurs when people feel they are not able to meet the demands placed on them. A report into workplace stress (published by private health insurer Medibank Private) found people are more likely to experience high levels of stress at work when they are placed under pressure, in terms of workload and responsibility, but feel they are unable to meet their deadlines or control their output.Another reason we're feeling stressed is that figures suggest many people are working hard, or at least long hours.

Long working hours, insufficient breaks, lack of resources and unrealistic deadlines all contribute to workplace stress. As can relationships with co-workers and managers, especially if these relationships involve conflict, harassment or bullying.

But each of us responds to these stressors differently. So a work environment that just makes one person feel a little uptight, might push another person to breaking point.

There are, however, certain factors that can put you at greater risk of experiencing workplace stress, burnout or psychological injury.

Unfortunately, people do miss the early warning signs that they are stressed.

But there are some warning signs that tell you heading towards the upper end of the stress scale, these can include:

  • Struggling to cope at work and not speaking up or seeking help to improve your situation.
  • Not setting boundaries between your work and home life – taking work home with you, checking your emails outside work hours, or just thinking about work in non-work time.
  • Having low morale – this includes not feeling supported, not being able to find meaning in your work and feeling undervalued.
  • Engaging in negative, irrational and catastrophising thinking patterns such as: "I have to be responsible for everything." "Everything will collapse without me." "I have to perform to 100 per cent."
  • A real or perceived lack of control over your job and how you do it.
  • Feeling undervalued by your managers and colleagues.
  • Feeling disconnected from your colleagues and other people in your life. This is sometimes a problem for people who do shift work, or work in jobs that require extensive travel away from family or friends or periods of isolation.
  • Taking days off work when you are not sick or going to work but not being productive (presenteeism).

Other red flags include: poor performance at work, avoiding family or friends and adopting maladaptive coping strategies (such as drinking too much or using drugs).

Stress can also manifest as new physical ailments or a worsening of existing conditions.

And while you will often need the help of your workplace to turn things around, there are some strategies that might help improve your wellbeing and ability to cope with stress. These can include:

  • Creating boundaries between work and personal time to improve your work/life balance.
  • Staying connected with family and friends out of work hours.
  • Aiming to better manage your workload and saying no to extra work.
  • Scheduling regular breaks at work – no matter how busy you are.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time every day doing things just for you: i.e. starting a hobby or activity you enjoy, chatting on the phone to a friend.
  • Managing irrational or negative thoughts: i.e. write down counterproductive thoughts and challenge them with positive or more realistic ones. Alternatively, seek advice on cognitive behaviour therapy or rational thinking skills training.
  • Researching and employing stress-relief strategies.

From ABC Health & Wellbeing

Unit IV. Text A

Travelling through life


It is estimated that the total number of travelers in England is about 90,000. “New-Age Travellers” account for around 50,000. The remainder are gypsies.

Where do they live?

Whereas Gypsies traditionally traveled around the country in brightly-coloured wagons, nowadays they are more likely to live in modern caravans and stay in one place, usually a municipal caravan site. New-Age Travellers follow a more itinerant lifestyle, traveling around the country in convoys of trucks following seasonal work and music festivals.

Who are the New-Age Travellers?

Some New-Age Travellers are well-educated, literate people, mainly in their 20s and 30s, who are anticonsumerists and have ‘green’ beliefs. In many cases it is their strongly-held opinions that make them take the road.

New-Age Travellers try to live as close to nature as the modern world will allow. They also try to stop new development schemes such as road-building and airport extensions.

A case study

Fiona Earle is a typical New-Age Traveller. She lives in a truck with her three children but, as she needs to supplement her income, Fiona occasionally puts on smart clothes and teaches in secondary schools. “I use teaching to get the money I need to find my alternative lifestyle,” she says. “Initially schools I work in don’t know that I am a New-Age Traveller. When I eventually mention in, teaching colleagues say, “Oh, you don’t look like one of those”.


Whereas Gypsy parents generally insist on primary education for their children, and withdraw them as soon as they reach secondary age to join in the working life of the family, New-Age Travellers do things differently. One-third educate young children at home. The problem comes at secondary age. Because they want their children to get a proper education, many parents decide to come off the road and move into houses so that their children can attend school regularly. But when parents are dependent on nomadism for their livelihood, settling down can be difficult.

The Times Educational Supplement

Text B

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