By Helen Kirwan-Taylor
Many years ago I had a falling-out with a girlfriend that proved so painful, I can hardly talk about it today. My friend (let's call her Mary) was a colorful television personality and had the world at her feet. She was engaged to a handsome European, and her face was plastered across the newspapers. I was working for 60 Minutes at the time, and we often met for lunch. Then one day her show was canceled and she asked me - casually, as though it didn't really matter...
We won't reveal her name, but no doubt, she reveals a familiar
feeling of being overwhelmed. Such feelings demand some attention -- whether
the pressure you feel comes and goes with the holidays or it is a year-round
fixture in your life.
"I work an average of 10 to 12 hours daily, and my work
is deadline-oriented. Several months ago, at the same time I was transferred to
a new location at my job, the person I love and my parents began to have
emotional conflicts with each other. Since then, I have suffered from the
following symptoms: tight neck and shoulders, feeling weepy and anxious, memory
loss, low energy, diminishing appetite, migraineheadaches, irregular sleeping
patterns, lack of focus, breathing difficulties, and more.
At first these symptoms occurred one at a time, but now I
suffer from most of them all the time. I don't know what's wrong with me. I
love my job and I know things will get better on the personal side, but somehow
this does not seem to make me feel any better. Can you please offer some
Here's how Richardson responds:
"Consider these symptoms as your body's way of offering you
a warning that you're heading for danger, and take them seriously. I highly
recommend that you sit down with your partner or a good friend and have a
heart-to-heart talk about what's going on in your life. Consider everything
from your long work hours and deadline-oriented work to the emotional conflict
between your partner and your parents. Then, together, create a plan of action
in order to restore your health and well-being as soon as possible. Your
self-care must be a top priority.
It's important to know that the emotional conflict you're
dealing with in your personal life does create additional problems at work. Too
often, we make the mistake of believing that we can separate our work lives
from our personal lives, but we can't. Conflicts related to parents or a loved
one -- the people who are closest to us -- are some of the most stressful of
all. What goes on at home either enhances your well-being at work or adds to
your overall stress level.