I get this all the time from people, friends who’ve been institutionalised in a job for years that if they were to leave that stressful job, they wouldn’t have a clue what to do.
Work gets people trapped like that. It’s a huge leap of faith to say “this job is stressing me out, I hate it, and need to leave.”
Mortgages, loans, food don’t pay for themselves – but then neither do funerals and you can trust me when I say stress kills.
Stress, from my experience, is where your mind and body becomes overloaded with toxic signals; you get to a point where you struggle to function and you can’t think or do anything. You end up in a vacuum of indecision and inertia and what quickly develops is physical and mental illness.
We all know coughs and colds occur when you’re body is stressed, those spots and cold sores and swollen glands are indicative of a person who is run down – and stressed.
Since I left full time employment, for freelancing, I’ve not been physically ill and I can count on one hand in the past four years when I’ve felt stressed.
Stress to me felt like having my head in a vice. It felt like I was an extra in Goodfellas or Casino with Joe Pesci torturing me. I had pains in my head, neck, upper body, aching limbs, gout, arthritic joints – all symptoms that disappeared when I left teaching. Odd isn’t it? Well actually no. Workplace stress is common – and I think it’s caused by poor management, too much pressure on them that is filtered down to the workforce, lack of time and too much demand on that time. In business, you can outsource work (which I’m now grateful for) but in most jobs, when feeling under the cosh, you can’t turn round and send it elsewhere – because your colleagues are often already over-burdened.
Work-life balance becomes a mythical goal and you don’t ever switch off from work because you can’t. Stress does that to you. It incapacitates thought and actions; it’s why you read of so many leaders who end up paralysed with indecision and stresses of their own.
I’ve also come to the conclusion from talking to many people, both within and outside education, that workplace stress is caused largely by poor bosses, crap management, psychopathic leaders.
Well it did for me.
And even when pupils caused stress, it was because they weren’t handled correctly by management.
So if you’re feeling stressed at work, think about what is causing it – is it workload? the hours? targets? your colleagues? the commute? the management?
Try to find an escape route before your pension and savings become a funeral fund.
I’ve seen otherwise healthy colleagues, family and friends made ill and die young from it.
Trust me, when you leave a stressful job, your brain fog dissipates and you discover talents in yourself that have laid latent for years, buried under a heap of toxic files.