The Mental Health Commission of Canada provides the following definition, which can serve as a goal for employers: “Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community.” (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2012, Changing Directions, Changing Lives. The Mental Health Strategy for Canada Summary, 11.)
I find this definition intriguing. What is “a normal stress of life”? Is it OK to stress over unfinished report to the point of losing sleep? What if thoughts of the last argument with your teenager keep you distracted during an important meeting? What is considered abnormal? Most importantly – at which point do you need help beyond a couple of days off to sleep and spa visits? And how do you tell your manager that you are so stressed you can no longer work? This, of course, is very personal, however, if you are feeling the pressure of everyday life, you need to know you are not alone.
According to Statistics Canada, 27% of Canadian workers have reported being extremely stressed, and another 46% (which is over 6 million buying doxycycline people!) are “a bit” stressed. And the main stressor is work. In a perfect world we would all be doing the job of our dreams for a salary that would cover all our needs, however it is often not the case. While it is impossible to escape stress altogether, as our lives have become so fast and furious, so busy and ever changing, it is possible to reduce the effect of stressors in your life.
There are a lot of recommendations on how to reduce stress in your life, for example the website American Psychological Association features an article specifically dedicated to stress at work. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health also has plenty of advice, so I am not going to try and re-write what has already been said.
I just want to say one thing – do not be scared. You are not crazy. You are not alone. Seek help if you need it. Call your EAP provider, their services are confidential and often free. Check if your benefits cover therapy. Take an unpaid day off just to unwind. Take a walk. Talk to a friend or a relative. Do something, but don’t just wait until your stress becomes unmanageable and takes over your life.