AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

August 25, 2017

Managing Stress at Work Can Improve Non-Work Life Too

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — "Work affects life but life also affects work," said David Burton, a civic communications specialist with University of Missouri Extension. "Research shows that the non-work world often puts the most difficult demands and problems on the work world."

There are six key balance points in life: family, financial responsibility, health, social contributions, career, vocation or education and spirituality or faith. Each of these six points needs to be dealt with each day to be kept in balance.

A major factor in balance is getting more in control of the issues unrelated to the job. Doing so normally results in one performing better and needing less job-related advice.

"When we throw something extra in our life it takes a lot of time and energy to get it going," said Burton. "Reducing our stress at work often requires us to get our non-work life in order."

Why do we push ourselves to the point of stress? One reason, according to Burton, is our culture.

"Many of us create stress in order to stay ahead at work or excel in order to achieve certain income levels," said Burton.

Leading job stress factors include low autonomy, high job pressure, low tax complexity (boredom) and low income. Overworked employees make more mistakes at work, feel angry toward employers, resent co-workers that don't work as hard and often look for new jobs.

Lack of schedule control is one of the biggest factors for the stress level of employees.

"Flexibility of one's hours or ability to control one's schedule has greater consequences than actual hours worked. A person who is always on call feels more overworked," said Burton.

A lack of schedule control also leads to burnout, distress, dissatisfaction, poor general health and an imbalance between work and home.

A key to dealing with feeling overworked is looking for areas where wasted time and interruptions can be reduced. It is also important to reduce low value work or unnecessary demands and being more efficient in work.

"In other words, don't just be busy. Focus on the most important items or tasks at hand," said Burton. "Spend time on the tasks that make a difference, are urgent and important."

How can a person make their work place better?

"Begin by giving some thought to three specific things you want to change. Then think about what steps you can take to make the changes happen," said Burton.

The bottom line is that great achievers demonstrate that with balance one can do some overtime because non-work life is working well.

To learn more about educational programs focused on keeping work and family life in balance, or reducing stress on the job, contact any of MU Extension's human development specialists in southwest Missouri: Renette Wardlow in Greene County at (417) 881-8909 or Angie Fletcher in Texas County at (417) 967-4545.

Source: David Burton, (417) 881-8909

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