Has this ever happened to you?
You walk into work feeling great. You're happy, healthy, full of pep and vim. Then, as the morning progresses, you start to feel weak and woozy. Your vision clouds. Every time you try to express your feelings to your manager, your throat contracts and you find you can do little more than rasp out a feeble, "OK, I'll do it your way."
By the afternoon you can hardly breathe. Your eyes tear up every time you face your computer, and the thought of a late-in-the-day meeting makes your heart pound so rapidly you start eyeing the company defibrillator. When it's time to go home you're so tired that you know you'll be able to do nothing more that evening than flop on the sofa, suck down brewskis, and watch the conclusion of "America's Top Model."
If this sad description comes close to describing your everyday work life, here's good news. The problem might not be your awful, soul-crushing job.
Chances are you aren't sick of your work. You're sick because of it. Lisa Belkin, the Life's Work columnist at The New York Times opened my scratchy, red eyes to this critical issue in a recent screed titled "Sickened by the office." Her theme is that even in allergy season, many people are not suffering from ragweed, but from the ragging they get at work.
The syndrome is called "work-induced allergy" and, according to Belkin, it is "fairly simple to diagnose: the symptoms worsen as the workday progresses, and lessen after you leave. And you feel fine on weekends and vacations." And you thought you simply hated your manager!
The specific causes for work-induced allergies listed in the article are rooted in the physical world, rather than the psychological torture which we suffer in our workplace Abu Ghraib.
The white coats at The Mayo Clinic's Web site (mayoclinc.com) agree. They list 16 professions that are especially at risk for occupational asthma, including veterinarian, cabinetmaker, baker and hairdresser.
For the worker in the more traditional office environment, Belkin puts the cause for our weakened conditions on sneeze-inducing carpets, rather than snooze-inducing meetings. I'm sure that the cheap building materials and shoddy health standards our companies provide are to blame for much of our misery, but carpets and drapes are hardly the entire cause of our problems at work.
Fortunately, some of the recommended cures for allergic reactions will also work when trying to protect yourself from a psychotic supervisor. For example, sitting at your desk wearing a full-face ventilator mask attached to a CPAP machine will not only assure you a source of clean, fresh oxygen, but it will also allow you to spend the day dozing without anyone being able to see you're asleep.
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