My work experience from social determinants perspective

I have always believed that one will reap the benefits from how hard one is willing to work, but that is not always the case.  I am a settled immigrant in Canada with the expectation of changing my life and future.  Stress were I came from was high because work and resources were not readily available and I relocated to make a change in my environment.  I worked long days over 40 hours a week which required me to stand the entire time.  I expected that I would live better than where I came from, but that was not the case.  Stress is excessively high at home and works because I have not been able to meet the ends of my demands.  Social detriments plays a big role in my overall work experience has definitely had some negative impacts my overall well-being.

There are certain questions and theories I would like to answer.  I expected that by changing my environment it would change my life.  That was not the case.  Being a landed immigrant I settled in Canada and found it hard to get a job. Bettering my environment was supposed to make a significant change in my living and working conditions, so why was it harder?  I have been working in a grocery store since 2006 that is very labor demanding and very low in pay.  Having gained experience I should have been able to move up to better job and better pay but that did not happen.  I believe that being an immigrant has played a role in my current work situation.  I have experience now so changing my job should allow me an opportunity for better working conditions and pays.  It will also ultimately change my social and economic conditions reducing stress significantly.  My stress is directly associated with my job demands and inability to meet my personal financial job obligations as well as expectations.

To determine the effects that work has had on my personal overall well-being and stress levels I used personal data to make the correlation.  I used my work schedule as a basis for my analysis. On each day of the schedule I recorded what the personal expectations were on that specific day.  I recorded my personal feelings before I started working and how I felt once the work day was over.  I also recorded my feelings on my days off to see if there was any correlation with feelings and work.  By keeping a diary for a thirty day period I was able to record my moods to see if my stress, depression, and overall lack of well-being is in fact associated with my work or if other factors play a role.

The results were all consistent with my theory of stress being associated with my job expectations and inability to financially support myself.  Every day I got up that I had to work, my mood was not good.  I was stressed and dreading what I would walk into at the grocery store.  Even on the days off, somehow my work or lack of pay played a role in my personal enjoyment of my free time.  I didn’t have money to do anything or to buy myself what I wanted, so I would just sit there and wish that I did.  It is defeating to be talked to in a negative manner and to know that after putting in as much effort as I did I would expect to at least be able to support myself.  Taking a tick mark for every day that I was stressed or depressed I could see how my mood changed off of my diary entries.  There was no tweaking the outcome of dairy entries.  The very few days that I have happy and determined feelings are the days that I am off of or have been off of work.  I can tell myself everyday that I am going to have a good attitude and work hard, but it does not change that my job demands so much physically out of me.  I am talked to negatively and belittled.  I do not make enough money to even cover the basic expenses so I am continually catching up or juggling which bill to pay and which one can wait another week.  My stress is directly associated with my work.

My stress is directly associated with my job demands and inability to meet my personal financial job obligations as well as expectations.  My thirty day diary entries showed that my job at the grocery store the main factor associated with my stress.  The demands have been the same since 2006 and yet I am still not use to the demeaning communication and instructions given by the managers. There is a certain amount of psychological damage that has resulted inadvertently as well.  ”Psychosocial stress includes feeling “depressed, bitter, cheated, vulnerable, frightened about debts or job or housing insecurity; [feeling] devalued, useless, helpless, uncared for, hopeless, isolated, and anxious.” (Raphael, 2009)  There is only so much beating any person can take before they decide it is just too much to take.  I believe that being an immigrant has played a role in my current work situation.  I didn’t have any other option than to take the job at the grocery store.  I was a new immigrant and finding work was hard because I didn’t have Canadian job experience.  That was fine to work in a physically demanding environment with low pay to begin, you have to start somewhere.  But when my environment didn’t change, the stress continued to grow.  Bettering my environment was supposed to make a significant change in my living and working conditions, so why was it harder?  The diary clearly shows that the job does not pay enough and ads to the stress and inability to change my working condition.

If I continue on this path there can be not only emotional reprocussions but it can turn into physical as well. ”High levels of emotional distress have been found to be among the most costly health problems to employers in terms of absenteeism, disability, and failure to meet productivity standards (Burton, Conti, Chen, Schultz, & Edington, 1999).  My overall work performance and ability can continually shift if I do not change my situation.  My diary shows the stress directly affects my feelings and health essentially.  I wanted to give up and call off.

“Stress management techniques proposed have varied across a wide spectrum of approaches, ranging from managing the work environment to reducing external sources of stress to managing the individual’s intrapersonal factors.” (Firth-Cozens & Payne, 1999)  In addition to the bad work environment the lack of pay affects persona external factors making my personal situation even worse.

“Whether a stressor produces an enduring health outcome or not depends on the extent to which the person perceives the condition as stressful and responses to it.” (Oginska-Bulik, 2005)  This clearly shows that I have options, I do not have to accept the circumstances as they are.  There are social movements that are in place to protect human rights of immigrants and all people in Canada. “The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.”  My utilizing the Human Rights Act of 1985 I can and should demand change in my work environment which will change my overall life.


Monday: Off – woke up in a good mood.  Stayed in and cleaned.  Wanted to shop but did not have enough money to get what I wanted so I relaxed and watched TV after cleaning.  I am worried about paying the bills coming in so I went to bed early to prepare for work the next day.

Tuesday: 10-7 – tired and dreading going to work.  Today I had to unload a truck and stack the shelves with the new product.  The manager had me covering the register for a good portion of the time too and then questioned me as to why the shipment was not completed yet.  Two customers got frustrated because I did not see them immediately and I had to put up with their attitude.  I am exhausted and just beat down.

Wednesday: 9-6 – determined to make today better than yesterday. As soon as I walked in the manager yelled at me because there was something shelved incorrectly.  They had me cleaning the shelves and running around helping customers.  I didn’t get a break today.  Stressed.

Thursday: 9-6 – debating on calling off of work, emotionally drained.  Today my responsibility was to clean the warehouse.  Scrub the floors and clean the shelves all the way to the top which was very high. I am not a fan of heights.  I really hate my job, I am ready to sleep.

Friday: 10-7 – stressed.  My manager had me inventory product all day.  He second guessed my results and went back to double count what I did.  I don’t understand why he had me do it and waste my time is he didn’t believe I was capable.  Frustrated and belittled.

Saturday: 9-6 – only one more day I can handle this.  I spent the day checking customers out.  The manager took my bagger away so I was responsible for the entire exiting process for each customer.  The line was longer than normal and some customers showed their disapproval with an attitude.  I received my paycheck which just deflated what little energy I had left, it was not even enough to cover my rent.  I am so over this, is it really worth it?

Sunday: Off – excited I have two days off.  I started to look for other job opportunities because I just can’t keep up with the personal obligations.



Raphael (2009) Provide name of book

Oginska-Bulik, Nina. (2005) Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: Exploring its Effects on   Occupational Stress and Health Outcomes in Human Service Workers. International     Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health,18(2):167 — 175.

Firth-Cozens J, Payne RL, eds. (1999) Stress in health professionals: psychological and  organizational causes and interventions. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Burton WN, Conti DJ, Chen CY, Schultz AB, Edington DW.(1999) The Role of Health Risk Factors and Disease on Worker Productivity. Occupational Environment Med;41:863–877.