When you are in recovery, it can be challenging to hold and manage a job. If you are lucky enough to have full-time employment, you must watch for signs of work-related stress that can lead to relapse. Therefore, employers and employees need to recognize work-related stress as a significant health and safety issue.
When Work Brings Too Much Stress
Working gives you a chance at financial stability and satisfaction, but many people struggle with the day-to-day grind in even the healthiest situations. As you recover from past addiction, you may find work more challenging or stressful. You must identify your specific work stressors and mitigate them before chronic stress sabotages your progress.
Some causes of work-related stress include long hours, heavy workloads, job insecurity, and conflicts with coworkers or employers. Symptoms include decreased work performance, depression, anxiety, and sleeping difficulties. Stressed workers also may not work well in a team.
Acute or chronic stress increases stress hormones in the body, leading to complications like high blood pressure, mood swings, and other unhealthy conditions. Stress can cause social isolation as people may withdraw from relationships when they are stressed out. Family conflict and neglect of children may ensue. All these happenings are not good for recovery.
How to Detect Signs of Work-Related Stress
Everyone has a role to play in building a healthy workplace culture. Knowing some common signs of work-related stress can help you and others. Sometimes, you may not feel stressed out yourself, but other behavioral signals show that you are under stress. In some workplaces, stress is ubiquitous, and everyone considers it a normal work state. This should not be.
For example, some things may bother you when you experience irritability or sensitivity at work. Perhaps you have noticed a lack of energy over the last weeks or months. Monitoring your emotional health is essential in recovery. Recognizing symptoms can show you indicators that you may need a mental reset.
Work-related stress can also cause people to skip lunch breaks, avoid taking time off or socially isolate themselves. All these behavioral patterns are not sustainable and are unhealthy for recovery. Stress accumulates daily. If you do not up your stress management game, you may experience chronic stress, which can sabotage your recovery progress.
Reversing Chronic Stress
When stressed over work-related issues for a long time, you may have a persistent sense of being overwhelmed and frustrated with life. Chronic stress harms your physical health by raising your heartbeat and blood pressure, causing frequent anxiety attacks, and worsening sleep problems. It might make it hard for you to make rational and wise decisions, so you cannot perform well at work. It’s harder to work well with a team of coworkers because you often appear irritable or display outbursts of anger.
If you are suffering from chronic work-related stress, working with a therapist to identify the underlying causes and minimize these symptoms is best for you. Your therapist may ask if a specific aspect of your role leads to stress. Do certain working relationships bother you? Is your workload too heavy? Have there been any significant changes to your working environment?
Assessing the causes can significantly raise awareness of the problem and possible solutions. You can then make changes to reduce these triggers, such as asking your supervisor about reducing your workload, establishing healthy boundaries in a workplace relationship, or improving your work environment to lift your mood.
How Employers Can Support Your Recovery
Working professionals who are in recovery have rights in the workplace. You can inform your employer about your recovery status and ask what accommodations they can make to support you. For example, you may need the time to attend 12-Step meetings regularly. Maybe your job responsibilities can be adjusted, or they can give you more leeway to refuse overwork. Federal laws protect your rights against discrimination.
With support from your employer, you can inform your supervisor and coworkers about these accommodations. Whether you share your health situations with coworkers is another personal decision. If your coworkers care for your well-being, you can explain what changes your health situation needs. Otherwise, you’re not required to disclose anything you don’t feel comfortable with.
Sometimes, if not much can be changed or negotiated at a toxic workplace, your best option may be to find another job that offers more support to your recovery. Ideally, a recovery-supportive workplace should value mental health and work-life balance. There should be no overwork culture, and coworkers should have healthy boundaries when working as professionals.
The risk of chronic stress is real for recovering individuals who are also working professionals. If you do not proactively manage stress, it can lead you to relapse. Delaying getting help with stress management is unwise, as it can compromise your progress and your job. You may wonder where to find help. Laguna Shores Recovery offers strong relapse-prevention planning and stress management coaching to help you maintain a sober work-life balance. Our recovery experts and mental health professionals apply evidence-based treatment and adopt an integrated and holistic approach to recovery. Alongside customized treatment plans, family therapy, and support groups, Laguna Shores Recovery also offers aftercare programs. Call us today at (866) 229-9923 to learn more.