Rising stress levels

These two are having a well needed drink after a stressful day at work.
These two are having a well needed drink after a stressful day at work.

As flu season approaches people are falling victim to stress and losing daily motivation because they’re overworked. Students are dropping out of programs because of the workload but that workload is possible to be controlled. “From time to time I felt stressed out trying to work on multiple projects at once,” says Sarah Brooks, recent graduate of Durham College’s Graphic Design. “If I knew I had plans or wanted to have free time, I would just make sure I had my stuff done or almost done early, in anticipation of doing social things.” Brooks admits there were a couple of late nights she stayed up to finish projects but says she procrastinated more than she should have.

In the last few years, media has drawn attention to what they call the “mental health crisis” on campuses. While only a little less than a quarter of people will actually have a mental illness diagnosis, more than half will experience a mental health problem during their life. Stress was a common problem amongst students. About 57.6 per cent of students reported that they were feeling more stressed than usual according to Lisa Versevel’s article in the Western Universities Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Finding a balance could be the key to handling stress.

It’s important to keep a balance between work, school and your own leisure time. If not, you could feel overworked or overwhelmed possible leading to mental illness. According to Canadian Mental Health Association, indirectly, mental illness will affect all Canadians at some point in their life through a loved one or colleague. Mirelle Huneault, Health Promotions and Media Relations Specialist at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Durham says you can take a healthy individual but “if there’s enough distress in that person’s life they will start to become unhealthy.” She went on to say “stress builds over time.” Huneault is a certified mental health trainer who gives talks and workshops about mental health. She says seeking professional help is good for any level of stress and it’s always best to get help sooner than later. The Canadian Mental Health Association says 20 per cent of Canadians will experience mental illness during their lifetime sometimes not even knowing the cause.

Being overworked has a different meaning to everyone but ultimately means you have to much to do and not enough time to do it. Some may say that this is our own faults for feeling this way but there are many different elements to being overworked. Early signs of being over worked are losing your temper, having a hard time focusing and feeling more forgetful. This all on top of feeling more exhausted than usual. Another big sign you might be overworked is a lack of motivation and involvement. While adults handle stress from their workplace and home, the youth carry a heavier amount of stress.

The Canadian Mental Health Association says approximately five percent of male and twelve per cent of female youth, ages twelve to nineteen have already experienced a major depressive episode in their life. Huneault says in her opinion, youth have a lot more to contend with nowadays compared to the past. There’s a lot of competition to do well in school and social media plays a huge role in youth development. Youth are exposed to a lot more distractions because of the development of social media.

“It’s important to have a balance of leisure time, work time, and balance of family time. Being able to take a vacation before you’re completely exhausted is helpful,” says Huneault. If it’s possible, taking a vacation or break from work is a great opportunity to get away from any stressful environments. Keeping the balance between work and personal time is healthy. But if you’re not able to get away from your workplace or school environment, turning your cellphone, computer and emails for a little while could help reduce stress because it shuts off communication.

A lot of jobs overwork their employees. In an article written by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld from The New York Times said that Amazon employees that were suffering from miscarriages, cancer and other life crises were not given any time off. Instead the individuals were treated unfairly or edged out of their work rather than having the time off granted to them.

If you start to notice early signs of mental illness developing because of being overworked in your workplace, it is highly encouraged to speak to your boss. Early signs include constantly worrying, not being able to concentrate and insomnia. People aren’t always too sure about taking time off work. It is normally an iffy topic between a boss and employee. Employees might fear it might make them fall way behind or are just not comfortable to ask for the time away. If you’re not able to speak to your boss about the issue, you can still talk to somebody who you trust and allow them to help you. Almost 49 per cent of people who have suffered from depression or anxiety have not gotten professional help. But this doesn’t always mean you need to talk to a psychiatrist. Seeing a family doctor and getting a physical could help. Health promotion specialist, Mireille Huneault also recommends looking into employee wellness programs in the workplace, they are normally available to both full and part time employees.

If a balance isn’t made with workloads and necessary leisure time mental illness will continue to rise in the future amongst the youth. If the youth continue to be overworked and stressed out their health will decrease which could lead to mental illness later on in life. With control, being overworked can be avoided if students learn to balance their work, school and leisure time.