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Counselor addresses workplace stresses, possible solutions

Jan. 21, 1997

By Melissa Harlow

Lariat Reporter

For college students, no two semesters are ever the same. And perhaps one major obstacle facing many students is finding and maintaining a job throughout the school year.

A licensed professional counselor, Matt Woodward, shared his expertise on 'Wellness in the Workplace' Monday at the Bill Daniel Student Center discussing both maintaining a healthy attitude and understanding employees and co-workers.

Woodward is in private practice with Waco Psychological Associates and is experienced in group, individual and family therapy for adolescents and adults.

'There are two kinds of stress in the workplace: functional and interpersonal,' Woodward said.

Functional stress, such as performance skills, daily encounters, responsibilities and new tasks, is just as stressful as interpersonal stress, or stress from relationships with co-workers, staff members, a boss or a manager.

'We carry emotional needs with us into the workplace,' Woodward said. 'The personal issues we cannot deal with as an adult sometimes come out in other ways.'

Often these needs and attitudes have developed from family patterns and stem from daily demands,' Woodward said.

For instance, most individuals work eight-hour days, get an average of eight hours of sleep, leaving little time for family or even themselves, he said.

'Work is very demanding of our time, and it is important to keep work and family separate,' Woodward said.

This means drawing a distinct line between bringing work issues and problems home, as well as bringing the stress of family relationships into work. If this occurs, nothing is accomplished at either place, he said.

In families, Woodward said that oftentimes the roles we play, such as son, daughter, parent, sibling and student, extend to the roles of 'over-achiever', 'rebel or scapegoat', 'class-clown' or even 'the good child.'

Woodward said some people were taught it is not OK to make mistakes. 'Do as I say, not as I do,' 'Big boys don't cry' and 'a woman's place is in the home' are still taught in some homes.

All of these are certainly not true, Woodward said, but unless confronted and discussed, they can but only add to an unhealthy work environment.

It is important to recognize and bring solutions to meet the demands of work and personal needs, Woodward said.

Woodward suggests to learn to take responsibility or to step back emotionally.

'Use 'I' centered comments, instead of the blameful 'You,' Woodward said. 'More importantly, be consistent and clarify messages. We might not be able to control it, but we can change it.'

Afterall, if change is good, so too, is a delicate balance, he said.

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