“According to the World Health Organization, stress is considered a worldwide health epidemic. The American Institute of Stress links stress to the six leading causes of death (heart disease, accidents, cancer, liver disease, lung ailments, and suicide).”
(Joe Burton, Creating Mindful Leaders, 2018)
Working in a high performance, high stress major company, the stress will eventually takes its toll. After 20 years and in their mid 40s managers and staff start to burn out and if unchecked, in the worse case scenario, leads to one of those leading causes of death.
If you survive and don’t die then there are other issues that arise, frequent sickness, anxiety, depression, loss of direction, moodiness, lack of fulfillment, relationship breakdowns, unemployment, financial issues, addictions, family issues, ageing faster, and general poor health. Luckily many companies are now turning to mindfulness meditation to improve mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
It sounds crazy that this is the state that our work culture is in. What leaders would design a company like that? Rather than push a person for the maximum output, hence into a zone of high prolonged stress levels, why not find the sustainable level of work?
How do you know when you are working at the optimum sustainable level? My gauge for this is to ask the following question…
At the end of the day when I arrive home – am I calm and relaxed?
If the answer is NO, you are overworking, and over time it will take its toll.
If you are self employed or have a decent boss, you are able to adjust your work week to work at a sustainable level. And by sustainable I mean that you can keep doing those hours and activities indefinitely, for years to come and not tire. That’s the beauty of sustainability, it’s repeatable over and over and over again without much wear and tear.
This is a big work secret to long term health, success and happiness. Find the level for you that is repeatable, over and over again. The added length of time, gives you the benefit of accomplishment – higher income, more experience, and fulfillment in being able to do the things that need time, without burring yourself out in the process.
I adjusted my number of work client hours years ago when I was seeing too many people in a week and almost burned out and collapsed a number of times. Once I asked the sustainability question my whole practice changed. I now see the exact number that I know I can keep seeing indefinitely for years and decades to come. It has worked beautifully now for about a decade.
Initially you seem to earn less, but the quality of your work goes up because you are not stressed out. So over your work lifetime you actually earn much more and also feel happier in mind and body.
You also get the benefit of having a great buffer that you can draw on when unexpected stressors and traumas hit you. Your body has room to absorb the impact and see it through with less reaction. I had some major ones (totally unjust) hit me like a ton of bricks over the last six years, major assaults, that would have adversely affected many people. But my body had room to absorb the impact and release it over time.
I’ll be talking more about this process in future articles.