Where Logic Meets Love

Why I'm Stressed at Work -- the Strange Truth

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

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Why I'm Stressed at Work -- the Strange Truth | Faith Permeating Life
Today I made an interesting discovery.

I've mentioned previously that I sometimes get unnecessarily anxious at work about getting everything done. This is where several of my happiness commandments came from. It's never really made sense to me because I almost never have trouble getting through my work in plenty of time (last Friday being a notable exception -- but that's another story).

I can tell when I'm feeling anxious because all of my muscles below my sternum through my abs tense up. When I notice it, I can force myself to relax them and take a deep breath. Except -- today I couldn't. Why? I was too cold. My muscles were tensed, I realized, not because I was anxious but because I was freezing.

I had previously "identified the problem" of being cold at work, and I've taken steps like wearing tights and long undershirts, drinking tea, and wearing convertible mittens/fingerless gloves. But some days it's just not enough. Our floor is unbelievably cold. People tell me they've been complaining for four years to Building Services and the problem has never been adequately resolved. We're just supposed to live with it.

It seems that the cold has led to this inappropriate level of stress and anxiety I feel at work. If you've read anything about psychology and the body, you know that being forced to contract certain muscles -- e.g., smiling or frowning muscles -- can actually make you feel happy or sad (also known as the "facial feedback hypothesis"). In this case, involuntarily tensing my muscles is causing me to feel anxious.

I joked with Mike about buying an electric blanket for work. (We're not supposed to have space heaters because of the energy draw, but electric blankets aren't explicitly forbidden, presumably because they don't expect anyone to actually bring one to work.) But honestly, I just might. What's the alternative? Quitting my job, or threatening to quit, because I'm too cold? Suffering in silence? Putting in yet another facilities request to get half a day's relief?

I'm pretty sure they make heated Snuggie knock-offs, but I don't know if I'm willing to sacrifice my dignity quite that much. I think I'll settle for a good old lap blanket.


  1. Sitting on a heating pad may be more discreet.

  2. @Meghan
    I'm actually not too worried about being discreet, as several of my floormates have space heaters going already, I'm just too much of a compulsive rule-follower to do it myself. I also don't know if a heating pad would warm enough of me up! :) I appreciate the suggestiion, though!


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