Many clients come to counselling because they recognise that they are finding it difficult to achieve a balance between work and their personal life. They may be suffering from symptoms commonly associated with anxiety and depression, for example not being able to sleep and feeling tense.
Our work is important to us. It helps us to define who we are and gives us a sense of purpose and belonging. Our work enables us to find out about our strengths and weaknesses and identify areas that we would like to develop in. It can be challenging and sustaining and rewarding and stressful. In addition we create relationships with our colleagues. If we experience stress we may find that these relationships are a source of support. For others, however, relationships at work may become strained and difficult to manage.
Do you recognise any of the following:
‘I often work late and at weekends.’
‘I need to be available to work all the time because I am the only one who can answer certain questions.’
‘I don’t really like taking holidays because I have so much to do.’
‘My family and friends don’t understand the stresses of my job.’
‘I have increased my use of caffeine/alcohol to help me to cope with work.’
‘I am starting to make mistakes.’
‘I feel irritable with others.’
‘Physically I’m starting to notice changes. My chest hurts quite often.’
‘I am finding it hard to sleep.’
‘Colleagues have commented that I seem withdrawn.’
‘My boss relies on me a lot.’
‘I have outgrown my job.’
‘I feel stuck.’
When things at work start to go wrong it can interfere with other areas in our lives. We can end up feeling angry, stressed and exhausted. We might not have time for our family and friends and avoid socialising. We may stop enjoyable activities and hobbies because we are too busy. We might bring work home regularly, keep our telephone switched on all the time or keep checking our emails. We might spend the entire weekend in bed because we need to conserve our energy for work.
Other people may start to comment on our behaviour and we may become defensive or snappy. Our performance at work may begin to suffer and we might start to make mistakes, find it difficult to concentrate or forget things. We can end up feeling stuck or trapped and start to worry about losing our job. We might find it hard to ask for help because we don’t want others to think we are ‘weak’ or vulnerable. We might believe that others would lose respect for us if they knew we were struggling to cope.
How can counselling help?
Making the decision to try counselling is difficult for those suffering from work stress. It requires an investment in your time and a commitment to come along to regular sessions. Sometimes people wait until they reach a crisis point before they seek help. Why wait that long? Early intervention can help mild problems from becoming more serious. Counselling can help you to address the problems at work which may be causing you stress and help you to decide how you would like your life to be. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help.
You always have a choice.
Copyright 2010 Christine Bonsmann. All rights reserved.