Are you unhappy with your job? You’re not alone. More than 70% of Americans are in the market for new careers — that’s a lot of people.
Before making the jump to a new job, consider whether it’s your workplace dragging you down or your emotional health. Emotional health and well-being are often overlooked when evaluating work environments. When was the last time you stopped to reflect on how you were feeling? If you can’t remember, that’s not a good sign.
Studies show happy people are more productive. Don’t fall victim to the vicious cycle of letting emotional wounds fester. Here are seven ways to administer psychological first aid in the workplace.
1. Address Emotional Pain Head-on
Avoiding negative emotions is tempting. After all, who enjoys feeling terrible? Probably not many people. Unfortunately, the trade-off for avoiding negative feelings in the short-term is having them resurface continuously in the long-term.
For example, take the unfortunate situation of a close friend or family member passing away. Returning to work immediately after the funeral might distract you from the initial shock and pain of the loss, but eventually, those feelings will resurface later on. You’ll feel worse for longer.
Avoid the temptation to push down your feelings. Face them when you feel them.
2. Be Compassionate With Yourself
Mistakes are part of life, and the workplace is no exception. Instead of falling into a pattern of self-deprecation, be compassionate. Think back to a time when a close friend or colleague made a mistake they felt terrible about. Did you attack and criticize them? Probably not. Odds are, you were compassionate and empathetic.
Give yourself the same courtesy. Focusing on one mistake can prevent you from moving forward, which in turn, may lead to more errors. Break the cycle by practicing compassion.
3. Use Failure to Your Advantage
Take advantage of your failures — each one offers a learning opportunity. Reflect on what you need to improve and where you went wrong. Solicit feedback from supervisors to prevent the same thing from happening again.
You can’t undo the past — you can only change the future. Think about how you can use the past to better shape the future. Accepting the failure for what it is and taking control of it will make you feel more in control of the situation.
4. Change Your Perspective
Focus on what you enjoy about your job instead of focusing on what you hate. Concentrating your energy on the negative aspects of your current situation can lead to brooding and a sense of helplessness.
For example, maybe you have a great friend you met through your current workplace. When you start to feel down, remind yourself you wouldn’t have met this person if you didn’t work at your current job. Eventually, you’ll find enough things to be grateful for you’ll be able to pull yourself out of a lousy mood spiral.
5. Let Go of the Small Stuff
Humans are hard-wired to focus on the negative over the positive. It’s easy to dwell on work-place gossip or that catty comment from a coworker.
When the negative thoughts start to overwhelm you, distract yourself with something else. Try taking a walk during your 15-minute break. Meditate. Do a crossword puzzle. Several minutes of distraction is enough to end negative thought patterns.
6. Practice Awareness
Check in with yourself from time to time. Listen to your body and how you feel. Practicing awareness regularly will help with processing any residual negative emotions.
Pay close attention to how you react when situations or encounters in the workplace lead to bad feelings. Do you shrug things off initially, only to dwell on them later? Maybe you lose your cool and face guilt and embarrassment. Learning how you identify negative feelings will help you develop the best coping mechanisms when you experience them.
7. Find Work-Life Balance
Smartphones and laptops make it possible to work remotely from anywhere at any time. This flexibility can provide excellent work-life balance. Or, it can do just the opposite.
Living and breathing your career can turn a fun, fulfilling position into an emotionally draining one quickly. Studies show you’re more likely to have poor emotional health if you work too many hours per week. Avoid this trap by setting clear boundaries for working and non-working hours. Update your calendar with this information, and stick to it. Once you make an exception for one person, you set an example that you are always available.
Start taking care of your emotional health. The time investment will pay off in the long run. You’ll feel happier, healthier and more productive.
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