family- Stress

Part: 1

Dr Chris Le Roux (PhD)

As an introduction, I completed my PhD in 2007. The Title for my Thesis:

“Towards a substantive workplace model: Exploring workplace stress and family stress dynamics.”

It’s been a while since I completed this Doctorate and I would like to share my findings with the community and hopefully help some families finding themselves in these challenging times. I will be writing more than one part related to this topic which will appear during the last week of every month.

This article will focus on the interdependence of workplace stress and family stress.

There tends to be widespread apprehension that there is a link between workplace stress and family stress, that workplace stress exerts a unidirectional effect on family functioning and that any effects of workplace stress on the family functioning are inevitably negative.

For most couples these days both partners work in the paid labour force and even putting in longer hours on the job than ever before. As a result, the boundaries between home and work life becomes unclear. The demands of work can especially overload parents and place strains on their relationships with their spouse and children. Today more so than before, more and more parents are struggling to organise their work and family obligations.

1.1          Workplace and Family Stress

There is a substantial body of research, suggesting that occupational stressors influence the relationships within families. Workplace stress is accused of causing a strain on families and relationships as it robs people of time, energy and attention needed to maintain healthy relationships with partners and children.

Working families today, struggle to balance work, home and personal lives. The conflict between work and family has a significant effect on the quality of parenting, relationships with spouses, and other family and household responsibilities.

Because of workplace stress, not only does the couple experience difficulties but the children even more so. Families in which both parents are working can lack cohesion and be self-destructing, as both parents are often absent. Working parents cannot give children the time and attention that they need. Children that do not receive adequate time from their parents feel unloved, abandoned and resentful towards parents that have relentless work commitments as it cuts into family time.

For part 1 I will start with the most common Emotional symptoms of workplace and family stress. The parts which follow monthly will include further constructs.

  • Emotional Symptoms

Emotional symptoms of stress include depressed feelings, strong urge to cry, to run away, withdrawn, moody, lowered self-esteem, hopelessness and a desire to hurt somebody. Furthermore, emotional symptoms are manifested in feelings of being emotionally unstable, joylessness, being fed up, sadness, and anxiety. Other fears of stress include fear of the future, of others’ disapproval and of failing.

The more common emotional symptoms will briefly be discussed hereafter.

·         Depression

Depression is characterised by a sense of inadequacy, a feeling of despondency, a decrease in activity, pessimism, sadness, changes in appetite or weight, insomnia, psychomotor activity, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty in thinking, concentrating, or making decisions, and recurrent thoughts of death or attempts at suicide.

These symptoms are manifested in social and occupational areas of functioning.

·         Insomnia

Individuals afflicted by insomnia report a difficulty in attaining normal sleep, as evidenced by the difficulty in falling asleep, frequent waking during the night and/or early morning waking with difficulty in falling back to sleep. Insomnia can lead to decreased feelings of well-being, deterioration of mood and motivation, decreased attention, energy levels and concentration, and an increase in fatigue which directly affects the performance of the individual within the work setting.

·         Anxiety

Prolonged and recurrent stress causes anxiety, which is a vague, unpleasant emotional state with qualities of apprehension, dread, distress, and uneasiness.

In the next article we will discuss Cognitive Symptoms.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact me on 082 8198771 or e-mail

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