Danny Henley: Taking stress out of your workplace

Danny Henley

I can say without any hesitation that my life is far less stressful as a reporter than when I held the title of city editor or sports editor.

As sports editor, with the volume of copy that James Burroughs and I would generate on just about any given night, it seemed we were always struggling to get all the stories in and pages out the door on or before deadline. More often than not I would go home after the paper was out with a knot in my stomach.

Now, about the only time I write with one eye on the clock is on an election night.

Maybe it’s because of deadline pressure that the job of journalist made a list of the 10 most stressful jobs. Ranking No. 7 on the list, journalists finished ahead of customer service complaint workers (No. 8), secretaries (No. 9) and waiters (No. 10).

The countdown features: No. 6, stockbrokers; No. 5, medical interns; No. 4, air traffic controllers; No. 3, miners; No. 2, police officers. Judged to have the most stressful jobs are those souls who are inner-city high school teachers.

The list becomes more than water cooler discussion fodder since a Canadian study reported that chronic on-the-job stress doubles the risk that someone who has had a heart attack will have another “major coronary event.”

According to the article in U.S. News & World Report, other studies have shown that workplace stress boosts heart woes, but this was the first to link job anxieties with recurrent heart attacks.

During the study, job stress was defined as workplace environments with high psychological demands but low worker control of decisions made on the job.

That definition prompted me to think of a recent story I’d read about a member of the St. Louis Rams - Adam Goldberg.

Adam who? If you don’t recognize the name, even if you’re a fan of the Rams, don’t feel too bad. Goldberg labors in one of the most obscure jobs on an NFL football team - offensive lineman.

The 6-foot-7, 318-pound Goldberg is now in his fourth NFL season and second year with the Rams. Scott Linehan, Rams head coach, told the media last week that Goldberg has performed well throughout the preseason, which wrapped up for the Rams on Thursday night in Kansas City.

That’s good news for Rams fans since Goldberg, who has experience at all five offensive line positions, will likely be the backup to former Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace, who has been injured for most of the past two seasons.

While offensive lineman did not make the list of most stressful jobs, I would think its not far off it. Why? On every play there is the potential for a career-ending injury. On nearly every play there is a large, quick and strong person lining up across from you whose intent it is to run over you en route to the quarterback or running back.

There’s also the ever-present knowledge that if you fail to perform up to the coaching staff’s expectations, potential replacements are never far away.

In a Post-Dispatch article, Goldberg outlined his approach to dealing with the stress of his profession.

“The big picture - spots on the team, what coaches think of me - they’re essentially out of my control,” he said. “And a very wise person told me that there’s no way to make yourself go crazy faster than to worry about things that are out of your control.”

Maybe if more people employed Goldberg’s outlook regarding things beyond their control, maybe the workplace wouldn’t be quite so stressful. 

Hannibal Courier-Post