Posted on Feb 12th, 2006

Some people seem to have lived with stress all their lives. There are those who always seem to march to the beat of a different drummer.

Sometimes babies that are born too early have to be given drugs to prevent more serious complications of their condition. Babies that are born too small and undeveloped are often sick during their early years. A reason for their early birth can be that their mother had toxaemia, while the baby was in the womb which could mean her kidneys were not removing toxins from her blood. The birth may have had to be induced to save both patients from being poisoned. Such babies can be born possessing about half the normal weight. These babies often have to fight for life and they can have problems with recurring convulsions.

In the past drugs were given to reduce the frequency of the convulsive episodes. Phenobarbital, a barbiturate used as a sedative is sometimes prescribed for young children. However, the effect of drugging a small child can be the impairment of their learning ability meaning that it may take them longer than the average person to learn new tasks. They may have a difficult time in school for the first few years and the stress caused by impaired brain function can make life difficult.

Sometimes these young adults only finish high school because difficulty in learning makes it impossible to continue with a formal education. Without a degree from an institute of higher education, they usually end up taking low paid high stress jobs. There are a lot of these jobs in the customer service and retail sector. Some jobs require the employee to work as a clerk, janitor, store shelf stalker, and fried chicken cook, all in one job. To add to the stress level, there is never enough time to do the work at a normal pace. The job is always rushed and interrupted by customers. This adds to the stress level. Add to that the responsibility for customers who do not want to pay for the gas they take, or the products they walk out of the store with. The stress is compounded if the store is open 24 hours a day. The employee may be required to work a variety of 3 different shifts. If the employee has difficulty sleeping during the day time the problem is compounded by fatigue.

The current trend is to squeeze more and more work out of these low paid employees. The system is designed this way so there is always a high employee turn over. People leave before the company has to spend more, to pay higher wages to long term employees. There is a ready made student or undergraduate work force, who will provide the inexperienced cheap labour the employer requires.

Some people seem to thrive on stress in their lives and on the job. Others handle it, less well. They do not enjoy being squeezed, by the system. Often they burn out and leave, hoping to find a better quality of life doing something more fulfilling.

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Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Stress
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