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No Work or Work: Which is more Stressful?

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People in both camps will tell you they’re stressed to the max!

People ”in between assignments” may find it’s stressful because:

  • “Packages” can run out very quickly (they’re actually intended to provide a financial cushion until you find a good fit role not necessarily to provide an investment opportunity!)
  • EI does not click in automatically (there’s a 2 week waiting period after severance has expired)  
  • Even the most basic living expenses still cost money (each of us  needs a roof over our head and food on the table)   
  • Depending on geo-area, finding any job, let alone a good fit career, can be daunting (sometimes necessity becomes the mother of invention)

People with work may find it equally stressful.  A recent study by the Centre for Mental Health Research at Australian National University indicates that people are stressed with jobs where there is:

  • A high volume of work (think call centres or working Tim’s drive-through)
  • Low control over decision making (think micro-manager bosses telling staff what to do and how to do it)
  • High job insecurity (think of the restructuring going on in every sector)
  • Little opportunity for being recognized and rewarded for adding measurable value (think unionized environments where high performers are paid the same as low performers because lock-step pay grids are based on years of service)

Both groups can feel overwhelmed, insecure and underpaid.  One isn’t worse than the other:  stress is stress and each one of us deals with it differently.   

Is it possible to become in control of work?  The good news is:  it is.

  • Take charge of your work life;  no one else will do it for you
  • Make time to step back and strategize a career path rather than settling for a series of jobs;  people can spend more time researching and choosing their next vacation destination than mapping out their careers
  • Work towards work-life balance;  work doesn’t need to define who you are although it’s easy to fall into that trap 
  • Think about what gives you the most meaning and sense of purpose:  family?  life-long learning?  volunteer work?  a fun social life?  health and wellness (paying attention to fitness, nutrition, sleep and relaxation)?  culture (arts, music, drama)?
  • Think about retaining a career coach to be your sounding board;   an objective perspective can help get you get unstuck  

Moderate amounts of stress can be a good thing…when that little kick in the seat of the pants stimulates you to take action and provides a sense of accomplishment.   So don’t be too hard on yourself…or too easy either!

“Stress is like spice:  in the right proportion it enhances the flavour of a dish.  Too little produces a bland, dull meal.  Too much may choke you”.  Donald Tubesing