I talked to a colleague this evening and the conversation is relevant to mention here. This guy is always saying he feels stressed. Every time I talk to him, he says he feels stressed by work and students and family life. I have told him before that I figure the problem is his approach to life and how he sees himself and his activities. He does not heed my remarks. Rather, he keeps pointing to external sources; you know what I mean—somebody is doing it to him. Then he uses the universal excuse: it’s Korean culture. Yeah, right.
He talks about his duties. They are too onerous and everyone expects too much from him. The university is too political and demanding. There is too much administrative tasking. Well, there are indeed aspects of the life of a tenured faculty member common to most in North America or hear that can be stressful, especially the politics and the competition. Still, he has TENURE. It is therefore hard to fire him, so what is he anxious about??
True, administrative work is stressful by its nature. The environment of administrations, offices is typically stress inducing, with fluorescent lighting, plain walls and all the repetitive and detailed time-consuming tasks that demand accuracy. Sitting at a desk and staring at a screen or writing on white paper all day long is not healthy and can make one feel stressed.
That said, the academic has much more control over his or her space and the offices can be made comfortable so that the stressful effects are reduced. As well, administrative work only takes up a fraction of the work. The remainder of the time is spent in the classroom, meeting students, finding materials, and planning lessons, with some computer and paper work involved. I’ve seen this colleagues office, and he has laid it out in a convenient way for himself. He probably could make it more comfortable.
I discussed the nature of stress, saying that it is about emotions and comes from our thought in response to actions and people. It can be managed. It involves some choice, and is shaped by our world outlook, our habits, our interactions and particular relationships. As this whole project has been saying, all those aspects of our day-to-day existence can be altered. I am trying to offer more and deeper advice to help people have a positive outlook, reduce stress and get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of life.