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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

Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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