Stress at Work – Can you be Happy?

Along with providing many of us with a living, work also provides a sense of purpose and bolsters self-esteem.  Being happy keeps us healthy, more productive and more creative.  Although the bulk of what it takes to be happy can be attributed to personality, our thoughts, choices and behaviours can also powerfully influence our feelings of happiness.   Below are some key points to consider even if we are not in our ideal job.


Are you in the right role?  Is it meaningful and interesting to you, even if it’s not as financially rewarding as you might like?  Or is it boring and mundane and just pays the bills?  If that is the case, what are you doing in your free time that boosts your well-being and vitality, thus balancing out the flatness of the job?


What kind of life have you got away from work?  People who are happy in their personal lives generally tend to be happier at work.  It provides a more balanced perspective and a safe place if the work environment is stressful.  Conversely, a disappointing personal life can mean there is no break away or space from unhappiness.    Life can become miserable and negative thinking becomes more prevalent.


Do you take regular breaks(even a long weekend)?   Anticipation of the weekend or a short break away can interrupt the stress cycle helping a person to stay resilient and happy.  Unfortunately, due to advances in technology our accessibility to work means that many of us will only ever go into standby mode and never entirely switch off.   How often do you power down your technology or spend time away from it so you can give your full attention to your personal life?

People who have made the decision to be home makers also need time out as in this particular situation, there is no formal contract indicating start and finish times as well as no annual leave entitlement, particularly if they have children.


Another factor to help reduce stress is to prepare well.  The less choices/decisions you have to make, the more relaxed you can be.  This can include tidying up/completing tasks at the end of the working week so that it is put away (and not taking up room in your head on your time off).  On a more mundane level, although it may sound insignificant, having your clothes and lunch ready also reduces the opportunity forchaos and trying to cram everything in at the last minute leading to raisedstress levels before you ever start work.


How relaxed are you at work?   Or do you live in dread and feel out of control?  Are there times when you feel overburdened and can’t find a way to say NO when you are asked to do one more thing?  People are often afraid to say no, believing the word to have negative consequences for them and/or others.  It strips them of personal power.   They see the power being external rather than internal and if this is happening over and over again, it can adversely affect healthy self-esteem.

Operating from long termfear/stress can lead to resentment and burnout. When a person develops a pattern of holding back and not speaking their truth because of their fear, they lose a sense of themselves and their ability to connect healthily with others.  Their vitality drops creating opportunity for anxiety/panic attacks and/or depression. Most people can handle stress in short bursts but being continually overstretched also decreases vitality – we lose interest and pleasure in what we are doing and begin to dread the daily grind.


Humans can be strongly impacted by their senses – what they see, what they hear, what they smell and the energy of other people around them.  This can add to their overall happiness or take away from it.   If you’re not happy in your workplace and notice you are sensitive to your surroundings, what little shifts can you make that will make a difference?


Do you know what makes you happy?  Is it praise and recognition?  Are you task oriented and get pleasure from ticking off a completed job/project?   Are you paid your worth – does it matter?   Are others interested in your contribution?   Does your word count?  Do you like and respect the people around you?   Do you prefer to work as part of a team or on your own?   Does work take up too much time in your day (commutes, etc).  The more in sync the work place is to your motivations and values, the greater your chances of being happy therebecome.


Finally and most importantly, how healthy are you?  Are you getting enough sleep, nourishing food, fun, exercise?  If your internal environment (psychological and physiological) is being taken care of, it can be very supportive of whatever is happening externally and we are better able to cope with uncertainties/stress.

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