Written by Dan LaValla
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:00
One of the things that I enjoy most about fundraising is that I have many opportunities to talk to people from different walks of life. Their stories give me a perspective that I would otherwise not have. I am often blessed by what they share. Recently, a common theme that I have heard is the increasing amounts of stress and fatigue they are experiencing. Many feel that it is a cumulative effect that has been building over the past few years. In my opinion, much of this is a result of the Great Recession that began in the middle of 2007. In my previous post, Giving ($) Cheerfully in This Economy?, I touched on the financial stresses many U.S. households are experiencing as a result of the decline in household income since 2007.
While it is obviously much less stressful and less tiring to be fully employed as compared to being unemployed or underemployed, looking at other phenomena occurring in the marketplace, it becomes very obvious why fully employed people are becoming increasingly tired. Typical statistics show that the U.S. economy lost close to 9 million jobs since the great recession and there are millions of more part-time and underemployed workers who cannot find full-time employment. While unemployment and underemployment have increased, various statistical reports show that worker productivity in the U.S. since the Great Recession has increased 6.5% to 7%. Further, due to electronic communications (e.g., email, smart phones, tablets, etc.), job obligations are pressuring workers to deal with work related activities on weeknights after leaving the office, weekends, and during vacations.
“Fatigue Creep” Defined
In structural engineering, fatigue and creep are causes for failure of a material at a stress value significantly below the allowable threshold. Fatigue of a material occurs when a material fails after being subjected to multiple loading and unloading cycles even though none of the instances of the applied stress crosses its allowable stress value. Creep involves the weakening and eventual failure of a material while it is being subjected to constant stress over an extended time period. While people are not inanimate materials, they do need to be conscious of the phenomena of fatigue and creep in their own lives in relation to their own physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual thresholds for good health.
Sleep Well and Get Enough
It is common knowledge that getting enough sleep is important for physical, mental, and emotional health. While the average adult requires 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night (children and teens need 10 to 11), today’s average is 6 to 7. Adequate sleep is important for restoring our energy and muscle strength, improved decision-making, memory, cognitive processing, and creativity; it promotes healthy emotions and the ability to cope with stress, weight stability, strengthened immunity to illness and diseases, and many more. Prolonged lack of sleep results in opposite symptoms: irritability, fatigue, lethargy, an inability to cope with stress, decreased cognitive performances, weight-gain, and decreased immunity that leads to colds, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.
Rest from Work
The need for rest from work is documented throughout Scripture and is modeled by God in the creation account (Gen 2:4). In the Ten Commandments, the fourth commandment tells us to abstain from any work on the Sabbath (Ex 20:8-11). Exodus 23:12 explains that the Sabbath is to provide a means of refreshment from work for the entire household, including its animals. In Mark 2:27, Jesus emphasizes man’s need for rest when He stated, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” On the Sabbath, believers are called to come together to worship God and meditate on Scripture. In this process, we are nourishing our relationships with God, our extended family, and neighbors. In addition, take time to be still and meditate on God, share your burdens with Him (Ps. 46:10 and Mt 11:28-30).
Set Boundaries and Leave Margins in Your Life
It is important to set boundaries between your personal and work lives. Make it a priority to be disciplined enough not bring work home after you leave the office and do not check emails at night and on weekends. If your job requires 24/7 availability, then only deal with crises and emergencies after you leave the office or place of employment. Finally, set margins in your life so that not every minute of your day is scheduled with obligations or recreational activities. Your mind, body, and spirit need opportunities and time to naturally unwind.
Dan LaValla is Director of Library Services and Development Associate for Institutional Advancement at Biblical. He is Chair of the Endowment Committee for the American Theological Library Association and is very active in his church and community, coaching youth baseball and football and has served on several community boards. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/daniel-lavalla.