AFib, Work Stress and Assessing your Priorities

AFib, Work Stress and Assessing your Priorities

Regardless of your job, chances are good that you experience stress from time to time as a result. When managing a chronic condition is added to your workload, it may prompt you to question whether you can handle all that you have on your plate.

According to Dr. Barry J. Jacobs, a clinical psychologist and American Heart Association spokesperson, there are several reasons that people feel stress at work. If you’re living with AFib, you may want to assess these common stressors and determine if you need to make some changes to help you live a more peaceful life and take quality time for self-care.

Self-Assessment Questions:

Do I need to better manage expectations?

“Having too much responsibility and too little authority can be very stressful,” Jacobs says. “It can also be difficult if you feel that the expectations of your job are beyond what you are able to deliver.”

Are my work hours appropriately matched with my health needs?

Americans are also working more hours than ever before, especially over the past 20 years, says Jacobs. This intense amount of work causes many people to feel like they are never able to catch up on work duties, no matter how many hours they put in, compounding their level of stress.

If this sounds like you, take note of the following tips to help you manage stress in the workplace.

Can I adjust the way I am managing my time to create a healthier situation?

Practicing effective time management is key to lessening stress in the workplace. Jacobs recommends starting projects far ahead of deadlines to guard against scrambling at the last second.

Take note of how long tasks or projects take you to complete so you can best manage your own expectations and those of your colleagues. Avoid the stress of being late to meetings by setting your watch five to 10 minutes ahead.

Would I benefit from learning to focus on one thing at a time?

Instead of trying to deal with everything at once—answer emails, make calls, organize your desk, finish a report—focus on accomplishing one thing at a time. For example, answer emails for an allotted amount of time, then stop and focus on something else, like the report you need to finish. This helps minimize stress by allowing you to focus on the objective at hand instead of feeling scattered.

Do I need to take more frequent breaks to reduce stress and place a higher priority on my heart health?

“We all need to build in rest periods during the day,” Jacobs says. “Working through lunch is a terrible way of managing stress. Try taking 30 to 60 minutes to step away from your desk and decompress. You will come back with a sense of replenishment.”

Do I need to help my coworkers understand the need to adjust their expectations of me?

Managing a chronic condition can take time and will most likely require you to adjust your priorities in some way. While it is important to challenge yourself at work, taking on more than you can handle can create a tremendous amount of stress.

“If you have no chance of meeting expectations in the workplace, it can cause feelings of demoralization,” Jacobs says. “Find ways to decrease the demands made upon your self, if that means being less self critical or having a frank conversation with your superior about adjusting your workload.”

Do I know when to use emergency stress stoppers?

Emergency stress stoppers help you deal with stress on the spot. These can be extremely effective in the work environment when you have a lot on your plate, your mind is racing and the stress is mounting. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations and sometimes it helps to combine them.

  • Count to 10 before you speak.
  • Take three to five deep breaths.
  • Ask for time to handle a stressful situation, so you can accomplish it to your liking and on your terms.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry,” if you make a mistake.

Do I need to ask for help from family or friends to preserve my energy for work?

Although many people resist asking for help, having a condition like AFib can be a burden that drains much of your mental and physical energy, especially at first or when symptoms flare up. If you let your family and friends know how fatigued you are feeling, they may be willing to share more of the load. Until you feel like your AFib is under control, you may want to consider getting help with personal and household chores that are overwhelming to you. With someone who can help take care of the yard, manage some household chores, or run some of your essential errands, you may find you have enough energy to take care of your work responsibilities.

Would I benefit from redefining the way I perceive my work ethic and my value as an employee?

To many hardworking individuals, the concept of a reduced-stress lifestyle, placing one’s health care needs at a high priority, or quitting early to ensure a good night’s sleep seems inconsistent with their deeply-rooted work ethic that emphasizes a high level of productivity, even if it means routinely pushing ourselves past what most people would call quitting time.

Do I need to reassess my definition of success?

If you are a driven type, you may have come to believe that working longer and harder is what is expected of “the best.” However, extreme productivity may come with a cost to your health. Rest and self care are also vital for creating quality work.

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