Woman hunched over her laptop with icicles piercing her back

This Job Is Killing Me

Last updated: February 2019

I spent a good part of my life working in various facets of the fashion industry. It’s been a hailstorm of events that have shaped me into the tough cookie I am. For the many that spend 8 hours or more at work, well, you may understand it can be a bit much. I recall working late at the office (in Production Management that is very likely) over 10 hours 3-4 days of the week. There was always an issue that needed to be resolved, and having my peers and overseas vendors on hand in their actual time was pertinent to the job. My job almost felt like that of a doctor because I was always on call.  

I understand all too well the grind of doing it all. I’ve given my all. But while I was doing it, I knew my body was reaping the consequences. I don’t know what it is about not knowing how to say no or continuing to push the envelope. Sometimes, we just can't do it all. I’ve wondered if that’s a good or bad thing. When we’re asked to do something that's part of our job that may cause stress while completing it, well, many of us do what we have to do. Yet, when our bodies give clear signs that it can’t keep up, many tend to push along anyway. I’m sure, for many, if we sat down and think back to 1-2 years before being diagnosed, we could probably pinpoint when our bodies gave clear indications it was done.

Stress: The big "S"

The big “S” is a huge factor in what triggers many of our ailments. I can recall sitting at my desk with my shoulder and upper traps so tight, it felt like icicles piercing my body. Or those headaches that would arise when a problem could not get resolved when it needed to be resolved. Whether you love your job or not, one point I think we can all agree on is that it shouldn’t be leading to our demise. The biggest factors to my stress triggers were multitasking, heavy workload, and issues working with my peers.

Now, wrap all of that along with getting a handle on your cancer. It’s a lot!

Steps to reduce your stress

First, you have to admit that your job is actually taking a horrible toll on you. Sometimes when we admit that stress may be a deterrent, it opens up room for more discussion, and how you need to move forward.

Work-life balance

It’s important that we take the measures needed for wellness. If you’re currently on meds, you have to really strategize to give your body what it needs to battle what it’s battling.  Before your diagnosis, perhaps you weren’t getting the rest you needed, but now with the help of chemo, you are forced to change your old habits. Working out a schedule to be out of the office and home in time to eat and rest is a huge factor. If you are in an industry where you’re needed after hours, then schedule specific days that are your “Push It” times to do more, if you can.  Your “Push It” time cannot be every day. It’s not beneficial to "Push It" every day, as proper rest is a key component in treatment.

Diet

I remember clearly skipping lunch many days and heading to our vending machine for a bag of Doritos to get me through. I would work straight through with the help of junk snacks just to finish what I was doing. Well, guess what? Sometimes, even with our strong efforts, what we are working on won’t be totally resolved that day. So eat something healthy! If you are lucky to have an appetite after chemo, a balanced diet is important. The new craze of meal prep is so very helpful; if bringing your lunch on a work day or chemo day helps you stay on course then do so. Bringing your own food filled with items with color, vegetables, and fruits gets you out of trouble by keeping you from eating things you shouldn’t be eating. I found that food plays a big role when it comes to stress, as you want to refrain from being an emotional eater, even at the job.

Mental breathers

If you are lucky enough to get breaks at work, then take advantage of it! Many places have small lounge chairs in the restrooms or other areas if you need to settle your nerves and take a 5-minute nap. I know you’re saying, "what is 5 minutes though? It’s minimal in comparison to my 1-hour naps at home!" It gives your body a little something to regain your energy to complete your day at work. If a nap doesn’t seem feasible, just allowing yourself to get some fresh air and regain some energy with the sun or fresh air is a huge booster. If there’s negative energy inside, why not break with the calmness of fresh air?

Many of us don’t have the luxury of not working while battling cancer, but we have to rethink the whole picture of how is this going to work. You can’t condone or encourage stress while trying to beat your disease. We all need to work smarter as we beat this.

The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it

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