The Dreaded Work Stress

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath While this occurs very differently for everyone, I do not know of anyone that does not have some level of stress at the work place. Even though I personally love my work, assisting clients and engaging with people, there are still times were there are deadlines to hit, seeming not enough hours in the day to accomplish my goals and the stress piles up. Yes, the dreaded work stress is an issue for any of us! With Labor Day just around the corner, I want to spend the next couple of weeks discussing this stress and more importantly, what we can do to perceive this differently and process this stress in a much healthier way. First let’s discuss the different core challenges of stress for most of us. I find that there are 3 major factors tied into what stresses us the most.
  • We do not enjoy our work
  • We do not enjoy the people we work with
  • We constantly feel as if we cannot keep our deadlines
Let’s take a look at these individually. First ask yourself this question. Do you get up in the morning excited about going into work and engaging in the impact you are going to make on the world you live in? Hopefully that answer is a resounding yes, because if this is the case, you’ve got most of your work stress licked already. I also want to be very clear, it does not matter what you do, you can always enjoy your work and feel as if you are making a impact on the world you live in. If you engage in the public during your work hours, just looking at people in the eyes, smiling and saying hello makes such an impact on people’s lives. Unfortunately personal engagement is almost a lost art in our culture. But trust me, the more people you engage with, truly look into their eyes, smile and say hello, not only will you make a significant impact on their day, you will enjoy this positive shift for yourself and this will play a significant role in relieving stress for you on a regular basis. If you work in manufacturing and do not engage with the public, you can be the positive energy and the driving force for the people you work with. You can also put your best effort daily to produce the best product or service possible every day, knowing that on some level this is making a positive impact on someones life. As example, my wife and I were just shopping for a camping trip and she was so excited to get the plastic containers with lids that we can use to wash dishes on our trip and she can also use for storage at home. Do you think that the person that was playing a role on making this product had any idea how happy this would make my wife? Probably not, but it did. There is not likely a product or service that you can think of that does not make some positive impact for somebody, so recognize that regardless of what you do, the energy you put into this will provide a positive response for somebody else on the other end. Let’s get back to enjoying your work though, because this is such a key point. I have heard friends in the past tell their children to go to school with a focus on a career that pays the most money, rather than a career that brings you the most joy. I cannot tell you enough how much I disagree with this. If you make gobs of money but you hate your daily life because you do not enjoy what you do, your life will be full of stress and unhappiness. But on the other hand, if your career path is within an arena that you truly enjoy, your stress will be lower and your happiness will be abundant because you will love what you do. I recently watched a documentary called Happiness that discussed some research in this area. They mentioned the role the money plays in our happiness. Interestingly there is a major impact on happiness for someone that earns $5,000.00 per year as compared to someone that makes $50,000.00 per year. This of course is tied into the potential that the person making $5,000.00 per year does not even have the basics of life addressed such as food, clothing and roof over their head. That likely makes sense to anyone reading this, but the next statement may, or may not, shock you. While the difference in happiness is significant from $5,000.00 per year to $50,000.00 per year, there is basically no difference in happiness for a person making $50,000.00 per year and someone making $1,000,000.00 per year. See money truly does not buy happiness, unless of course you do not have enough to enjoy the simple basics of life. So if you are the person that answered the question about your job or career path with the resounding NO, I do not enjoy my work, it is time to think out of the box. I am not saying to go into work tomorrow and quit your job, but put some thought into what you can do differently. Here are some options.
  • Show up differently for yourself at work. Be the difference you want to see in your workplace by putting your whole heart into every little detail through your day, knowing that this makes a significant impact on the other end as mentioned above.
  • Engage with others in your workplace in a positive manner. Engagement in life was one of the biggest impacts on happiness per the documentary I mentioned.
  • Look at the possibility of changing your career to do something you truly love. When I was 21 years old I opened a fast food restaurant with a high school friend and over the years opened several restaurants. While this was rewarding on so many levels, it was truly not what I wanted to do with my life, so in the middle of my restaurant I went to school to get my Bachelor’s in Science in Natural Health and my Doctorate as a Traditional Naturopath, leading me into the career path that I have enjoyed over the past 14 plus years. I took my love for natural health, my research for healing my own health challenges and have enjoyed a career in assisting other in overcoming their own personal health challenges. I can tell you that I had many naysayers when I was in the midst of this change, but they were not to deter me. I was going to live my passion as not only my life, but also my career. This opportunity lies there for all of us. Think about what your thoroughly enjoy and start moving into a direction of creating a career path on this level or perhaps even a hobby that can also generate a little cash flow for yourself. As someone that made a complete 100% shift in careers in his mid 30’s, I can tell you first hand that this is very possible and extremely rewarding.
The next subject major stressor at work is if you do not enjoy the people you work with, so let’s look at some options for you here.
  • Look at yourself first. If you feel like people are cranky and angry at your workplace, check in if you are coming in cranky and angry. So often we do not realize that the people around us are often a reflection of ourselves. If you show up with love, compassion and excitement, you will likely find the same energy returned to you, so always look within yourself first.
  • Talk to someone in human resources or the owner of your company to create some type of team building and engaging outings. So often people do not enjoy those that they work with because it is always the nose to the grindstone. Having some type of engaging and fun group participation event goes a long way in creating happiness in the workplace and presents quite a bit of good will among coworkers. If your company sponsors this event, schedules it during work hours, it may seem as if it cost the company money but honestly, a happy workplace is more production, healthier and is effect less by sick days, so in the long run this is a positive investment for any company.
  • Recognize that sometimes there is simply a rotten apple that is spoiling the whole bushel but honestly, if you and your coworkers focus on creating happiness and unity, that rotten apple will not resonate with the group and will find a way out. Don’t let them rot you personally and create the environment that they ultimately resonate with.
The other major stressor is time lines. Here are some positive steps you can take for this to show up differently for you.
  • Most important, do not over commit. Many people agree to unrealistic deadlines that there is no way they can hold their integrity to. Just be real with yourself, your coworkers and your supervisors as to the realistic time frame in which you can accomplish your goals. This will take away much of your stress on a consistent basis.
  • Another major impact for yourself is to simply accept your best. All we can do in every moment is our best and if you are consistently providing your best and you miss a deadline, you cannot change anything about this. You may make a customer or a supervisor upset by missing a deadline but if you are always putting your best foot forward, this will always work out for you in the end.
  • The other impact is looking at the difference between what you have to do and what you chose to do. Many people over deliver and while that is awesome, be sure you always remember that this is a choice. What I have seen so often in the past with people in the workplace, is that they over deliver and then communicate that this is something they have to do. But when you change one simple phrase of “I have to” to another simply phrase of “I chose to” this often puts your energy back into a positive shift, which is typically what you meant to do in the first place. I can tell you first hand that when I look at what I am doing as a choice rather than a “have to” this will allow the stress to melt away.
So play around with some of these simple yet effective tools for yourself at the workplace and your career and be prepared for less stress and more happiness. Let’s also make this an engaging post this week. Share a post below on what you may do to relieve work stress for yourself so we can all learn and benefit from each other. Next week I will focus on the health aspects of work stress an some positive steps you can take to alleviate this.

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