Does Work/Life Conflict Cause You Stress?
The holidays, with their activity and distraction, have passed. For many American’s, this first week of January brings a renewed focus on work.
If you’re one of the 76 percent of Americans who experience work as somewhat or very significantly stressful, then you may be returning to work with resolutions to improve some aspect of work that contributes to your stress.
In an overview of the research on stress in this month’s Monitor on Psychology Rebecca Clay highlights advice on how organizations and individuals can reduce conflict and the often stressful consequences.
Here are a few tips:
Know Your Style:
Different people have different work styles. Some are perfectly comfortable blending work and family time, while others find taking calls or answering emails from home a strain. Rather than trying to find a “right” way to manage a work and life balance, focus on your own personal values and whether you feel in control. Ellen Ernst Kossek, Ph.D. of Michigan State University advises that if you’re currently spending time on work, commuting, family, leisure or sleep in ways that don’t fit your values, it’s time for a change.
Take advantage of work/family policies that are a fit for you
In a meta-analysis of research, Tammy Allen, PhD of the University of Southern Florida has found that:
- A flexible schedule appears to reduce work/family conflict, while
- Telecommuting does not appear to be helpful in terms of reducing work/family conflict.
Telecommuting may even increase conflict, since family has access to someone who is supposed to be working. The evidence supports the benefits of flexibility for employers with reduced absenteeism, greater productivity and better employee attitudes. There is still great variability in how well work/family policies impact employees.
Take care of yourself
Work/life conflict can create stress that has an impact on your physical and mental health. It’s associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression and emotional strain. High levels of conflict are also associated with poor health behaviors like overeating or lack of exercise.
To maintain well-being, it’s essential to keep your body and mind healthy. Eating, exercise, sleep, taking care of your physical health and avoiding behaviors that make problems worse are all important.
Solving the problems that cause stress may be the best way to reduce work/life conflict. Talking to supervisors, clients and family about your conflict and seeking solutions to problems may yield unexpected results. Not every problem is solvable, but many may be resolved in you actively search for resolution.
Whether you want time off, higher pay, shorter work hours or more seniority, it’s important to be realistic in what you expect from work. Sometimes you have to make compromises. If you’re constantly expecting pay, time off and accolades, you’re likely to be disappointed.
[Photo by “Evil Erin,” available under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial license]
Matta, C. (2011). Does Work/Life Conflict Cause You Stress?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 6, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/dbt/2011/01/does-worklife-conflict-cause-you-stress/