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WARNING: Professionals Can Suffer from Career-Related Conditions

WARNING: Professionals Can Suffer from Career-Related Conditions

Usually we think of having a job as being good for us, but sometimes the career-related conditions of professionals can be harmful to their health. Occupational diseases can range from stress and anxiety to carpal tunnel syndrome or eye strain from using a computer too much.

Common Career-Related Conditions

The first disease recognized as being caused by a person’s job was when the link between chimney sweeps and squamous cell carcinoma of the scrotum was discovered in 1775 by Sir Percivall Pott. Luckily, professionals these days don’t usually have to worry about such dire health issues (though lung diseases are still possible among people who work with asbestos or in mines, for example).

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However, there are still health issues that can be caused at least in part by your job, depending on how demanding it is and what is physically required of you.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, for instance, is a condition of the hands and wrists that can come about from too much repetitive motion, whether that’s using a computer, operating a machine or performing another repetitive task through the day. Warning signs include numbness, tingling or burning in the thumb and fingers, and possibly also pain and loss of strength in the hand. Though diagnosis and treatment of the condition is unclear, loss of function is possible if the pain is untreated.

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Another common problem for computer workers is sometimes called computer vision syndrome, which is a temporary condition caused by focusing on a computer screen for too long. It can cause headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, eye strain, dry eyes, difficulty focusing and other problems.

And while it can’t be pinned down to one work-related condition, more and more workers these days complain of on-the-job stress interfering with their health and happiness. Studies have shown that as many as 40 percent of workers say their jobs are very stressful, and a quarter of all workers say their job is the number one cause of stress in their lives.

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Stress can come about for all sorts of reasons, ranging from a heavy workload to uncertain expectations, lack of decision-making ability to poor communication, lack of job security and mobility to dangerous environmental conditions or high-pressure environments.

Likewise stress can manifest in all sorts of health conditions, including:

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  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • upset stomach
  • shorter temper, and
  • difficulty concentrating.

Feeling stressed at work can make you less productive and focused and can also lead to serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, back problems and neurological problems like depression. It’s possible that people who are stressed out at work have more workplace injuries, and they may even be more likely to commit suicide and have more cancer, ulcers and impaired immune function.

How to Deal with Career-Related Conditions

Of course, which work-related condition you have will determine what you can do about it. Dealing with computer vision syndrome, for example, can be as simple as taking regular breaks away from the computer and using eye drops when you feel dryness. Special glasses for use at the computer can also be helpful.

Carpal tunnel is difficult to diagnose and treat, and there are a lot of strain issues that are not specifically carpal tunnel syndrome. Taking breaks away from repetitive tasks when possible is helpful, as well as using ergonomic equipment when possible. Braces can help keep the wrist straight, and sometimes surgery is necessary to correct serious problems.

When it comes to on-the-job stress, if you feel it is affecting you in a dangerous way, you need to do everything you can to limit stress and relax when you can. Whether that means talking to your boss about a more flexible work schedule or different responsibilities, or taking a vacation and learning relaxation techniques, getting a grip on stress is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being.

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Sarah White

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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