How to stay healthy with a demanding workload
A demanding workload with lots of multitasking can be energising, motivating and exhilarating. There can be a sense of fulfilment in meeting each challenge and learning to balance competing requests from your boss as you stretch yourself personally and professionally.
A demanding workload begins to turn unhealthy, however, when you start to experience negative emotional fallout in other parts of your life. Work-related stress can typically involve physical symptoms of anxiety such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, tense shoulders and headaches. Certain levels of stress can be a motivating influence but excessive amounts leave you feeling overwhelmed and demotivated, and viewing your heavy workload as an insurmountable heap. Unhealthy levels of stress can also impact on your physical health with negative consequences for diet, sleep and relationships.
Counselling and psychotherapy can help you to assess your attitude to your work. It could prove to be beneficial to acknowledge any perfectionist tendencies and where they might come from. Is there, for instance, any unconscious processes at play that make it hard to leave the office unless every single task is completed? Might there be old mental scripts at play that are driving you to seek perfection all the time? What messages did you receive as a child about what it means to be ambitious, successful and fulfilled? It could prove useful to investigate any people-pleasing behaviour and anything else that prevents you from negotiating work plans with your boss.
It can be helpful to be conscientious about hard work, but it can be detrimental to not be able to leave the office until every single item on your to-do list is completed. Your negative scripts might be telling you that you are not good enough unless you exceed expectations. Unhealthy practices are when you regularly work through lunch breaks, stay stuck to your computer screen and cancel planned holiday because of a mounting workload.
Staying healthy with a demanding workload means adhering to a self-care regime that allows you to enjoy regular physical exercise, eat well, sleep well, take breaks and enjoy time off. It also means being able to set healthy boundaries, delegate where appropriate and to negotiate the demands being placed upon you. That might involve politely saying ‘no’, even to the ultimate boss. If this is not possible, and you work for a bullying boss within a toxic corporate culture, then devising a transition plan to a more suitable job, perhaps in a different sector, might represent your next steps. Life is short. Try to embrace your working life with enthusiasm and find an environment that rewards your unique contribution and satisfies your creativity.
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About Noel Bell
Noel Bell is a UKCP accredited clinical psychotherapist in London who has spent over 20 years exploring and studying personal growth, recovery from addictions and inner transformation. Noel is an integrative therapist and draws upon the most effective tools and techniques from the psychodynamic, CBT, humanist, existential and transpersonal schools.