Navigating Work Stressors With an Autoimmune Disease: Tips for Success
Last updated: May 2023
Living with an autoimmune condition like axSpA can present unique challenges in various aspects of life, including work. Multiple symptoms, from lower back pain to fatigue, may affect your ability to perform at work and manage work-related stressors.
For instance, I recently juggled a few too many work-related projects. Rather than admit I was overwhelmed, I suffered in silence. Unfortunately, the problem with having an autoimmune condition is that suffering doesn't remain silent for long.
After a week, when it seemed like everything was going wrong, I noticed that the mental stress I was experiencing was now becoming physical stress. From daily fatigue to physical pain, I finally reached the point during the workday when I had to tell my employer I needed to go home.
Even though I was initially uncomfortable, I don't regret it. Not only was it the first time in a while that I had advocated for myself, but I also recognized that I had allowed mental stress to turn into physical stress. Since I never want to feel that way again, I decided it was time for more careful planning and self-care strategies to avoid putting too much on my plate.
Since implementing these techniques, I've found it's possible to deal with work stressors while living with axSpA effectively. Today, we will explore some practical tips to help navigate work stressors and achieve success in our professional life.
Tip 1: Communicate with our employer and colleagues
Open and honest communication is vital when dealing with work stressors while living with axSpA. We need to talk with our employers and colleagues about our condition, the challenges we may face, and any accommodations we need.
While this might feel like an uncomfortable conversation at first, it's an important one to have. By having this conversation, we can discuss flexible work hours, modifications to our workspace, or the need for additional breaks to manage fatigue or pain. Through transparency about our health conditions and requirements, we can work with our coworkers to create a supportive work environment that allows us to perform our best.
Tip 2: Manage your energy
Living with axSpA can be physically and mentally exhausting. Managing energy levels is crucial to avoid burnout and coping with work-related stressors. Even though we often hear recommendations to prioritize self-care and get enough restorative sleep, one thing that's often missed is the importance of listening to our bodies.
This specifically translates to the workday because listening to our body might mean taking daily breaks to rest or do gentle exercises. Hence, it's essential to communicate with our employer and colleagues so they know this is part of our productivity strategy. By intentionally managing our energy levels, we can stay focused, productive, and better equipped to handle work stressors.
Tip 3: Practice stress management techniques
Stress can exacerbate axSpA symptoms, so stress management techniques must be incorporated into daily routines. For instance, mindfulness meditation can help us relax before we start our day. Likewise, deep breathing exercises can support us to stay calm when we're feeling overwhelmed throughout the day.
However, it is critical to find what works best for us and make it a regular part of our routine. For example, taking daily breaks to practice stress management techniques can help us reduce stress, improve our mood, and better cope with work-related challenges.
In conclusion, living with axSpA can present challenges when managing work stressors. However, with proper planning and self-care strategies, navigating these challenges and achieving success in our professional life is possible. Communicating openly with our employer and colleagues, managing our energy levels, and practicing stress management techniques can all help us cope with work-related stressors while living with axSpA. Remember, it's essential to prioritize our health and well-being, and with the right strategies in place, we can thrive both personally and professionally.
Have you ever had to take a leave of absence from work due to your symptoms?
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