Friday, March 16, 2007

Managing Stress At The Job (first in a series on Stress Management)

Everyone that works has some job stress. We typically get used to it, but it still takes its toll on you. Depending on how well you manage it it can have negative effects on your health, relationships, and happiness. Some amount of stress helps you perform better. But since the effects of stress are cumulative, if you don't take care of yourself it will hurt you. Much of what we experience at work may not be under our control. Let's assume that if you could you would be working in the job that you enjoy, making the money you need, with people you like, as near (or far away from) your home as you prefer, and sufficiently challenging (or not). And I would encourage you to seek out a work setting with as many of these features as possible. Happiness on the job helps with stress management. My preference is to focus on the individual effected by the stress, and strongly recommend that you take the following measures to protect yourself from the harmful effects of stress. Exercise; use your vacation time; Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work (and read the book, of the same title, by Richard Carlson, Ph.D); take your lunch time, away from the job if possible, and eat something healthy (drinking water throughout the day helps too); change how you relate to your annoying coworker or boss, that will cause them to change how they relate to you; be aware that if you are getting VERY emotional about a stressful situation at work, likely it's related to some unresolved personal issue you should address; and don't forget to BREATHE!! More on that later.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Finding Happiness In Your Career (response to comments)

Work can be very rewarding, especially if it is the type of work that you enjoy. If you're not getting paid your true value for your expertise, the time you put in, and other efforts that you make (creativity, patience, tolerance of difficult work conditions, etc.) then you likely will not find the happiness you seek there. Also the "grass is always greener" phenomenon may influence your job satisfaction. Look at the different aspects of your career that you see as important, and factor those things into your job expectations. When you find appropriate levels of satisfaction in the most important of those factors, your search will likely be over. Also, consider the other areas of your life with respect to happiness. If you prioritize them (for example, health vs. work vs. personal relationships), you may find that you're enjoying the higher priority, more relevant life areas and be happy with the choices you've made. Thanks for your comments.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Curing Depression,... Finding Happiness

If you're depressed you've got to do something to cure it. Severe depression will likely require that you get some help from me or a psychiatrist (in the office). That is, if the depression is interfering in your life in a major way. Symptoms would likely include isolation, sadness, hopelessness and helplessness, pessimism, no enjoyment, no motivation, low energy, thinking at times that life is not worth living (thinking of doing something about that), staying in bed, crying spells. Sounds pretty bad, huh? It is. Even if you're just not happy, do something about it. Life is about being happy, after all. Exercise, socialize, practice positive and optimistic thinking, play, laugh, relax (more on managing stress later), develop a hobby, spend time in a loving relationship. Find your happiness. Easier said than done, you might say. And you'd be right, except it is worth it and it is possible. It requires breaking some old thinking and behavioral habits, and developing new ones. You may have to push yourself to get it done. But do it!
Some of you know about our recent vacation to Costa Rica. We learned a lot about this small ecologically-minded Central American country. In additon to a lot of beauty, they haven't had an army for many years. The money they would use to support armed forces they put towards education. CR has one of the highest literacy rates in the world! They also push the concept of Pura Vida (Pure Life). You're taught from a young age that life should be good. Let's develop that expectation for ourselves and our children. Pura Vida!