High Stress Jobs May Not Be As Unhealthy as You Think

High demand jobs can certainly cause stress, which can eventually lead to poor health, chronic illness, and even early death. A new study, however, reveals how the concept of “control” may improve your health, even in a high-stress position.

Organizational Behavior

According to the results of a seven-year study, health and mortality are not necessarily linked to a high-demand job. It’s the level of control the employee has (or even perceives she has) that shifts the pendulum.

A worker experiences greater stress and unhappiness when a manager assumes all control. People (employees) want to feel they are part of their activity; they can’t thrive in an environment when someone else makes all the decisions for them.

The Study’s Findings

The researchers at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business discovered some interesting results from their study. They found that those in high-stress jobs with little or no control die younger than those who have some or a lot of control.

“A lot of control” doesn’t mean not having a boss or anyone to be accountable to. It means something as simple as, for example, making your own schedule. Being part of how to set goals and accomplish tasks in the workplace is part of having control. These types of freedoms on the job are empowering to workers.

Good Stress

In fact, a useful and positive observed result was that those in high-demand positions, who also had high-control, actually flourished. Erik Gonzales Mule was the study’s lead author. He suggested that having more control can motivate workers and can breed better health. Mule points out an example: “…having pressure to work fast and use intense concentration, may result in feelings of accomplishment and mastery.”

The study included 2,400 people (half men/half women) and tracked their health for over seven years. Those in high-demand jobs with low control fared the worst. Those in high-stress positions but with high control decreased their chances of earlier death by 34%.

Job Satisfaction

How we perceive our work and workplace definitely affects our overall well-being. If we’re unhappy for the largest portion of our day, behaviors may emerge to mask the bad feelings. This can result in poor diet or overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, etc. Or, the stress can lead to depression, high blood pressure, etc.

So, perhaps it’s not literally “the job.” Maybe it’s how we are allowed to do our job. Having more control can lend to employee feelings of empowerment. Morale at work can be boosted. Instead of seeing work as “hard”, when given the freedom to participate, the work can then be seen as challenging or an opportunity to problem-solve. Those are far more positive outlooks and approaches to doing one’s job.

Personal Stress Management

When you’re at work and finding yourself too stressed out, you can always take a moment for some deep breaths, a quick walk (even around the desk), or a break outdoors. But in addition to your honed coping skills, perhaps think about your company, boss, or management. Do you feel you have low control? If so, perhaps some suggestions to human resources could affect positive change for you and your workplace.

After all, feeling good about your work—whether it pays well, is rewarding spiritually, or makes you feel like you are contributing and/or you’re appreciated—any positive feelings will be part of your best health regimen.

 

 

How to Effectively Balance Work and Life

The Elusive Work and Life Balance

While brainstorming recently, I was considering potential blog topics. I wanted something relevant for our readership without rehashing the same old information over and over.

Some of the topics were tossed aside, some evolved into already-written blogs, and THIS blog seemed to touch a bit of a nerve.

Specifically, I wanted to cover the topic of work and life balance. My intention was to address practical strategies that would be helpful for those currently building a career, raising a family, and/or sustaining a meaningful relationship with their significant other.

I floated the idea to a friend, and this was their text response:

Sounds good!….as if a work life balance exists.

It was at that moment that I knew this was a topic worthy of attention. Few would argue against maintaining a healthy work and life balance, however achieving this seems something more like searching for the Holy Grail.

In order to achieve balance, let’s first deconstruct some of the common barriers. Then, we’ll address several strategies to assist us in obtaining a proper work-life balance.

Unintended Consequences

A quick glance across the 21st century business landscape reveals an impressive look at where we’ve come over the past 100 years. The Western world has evolved from a workplace that was largely industrial to one that is now completely reliant on technology.

In the past decade alone, the advent of Smartphones have made “working on the go” easier than ever. Our tiny device possess a seemingly unlimited Rolodex: the ability to communicate with anyone in the world from anywhere at anytime.

That convenience has also crept into our personal lives. The “always-on economy” has stripped away family meals, bedtimes, and other typical rights of passage.

As lines of business and relationships have become increasingly blurred, the toll taken on family life has been significant.

The global economy continues its trend toward specialization. As time marches forward, a transformation has occurred: dot-com bubbles,real estate bubbles,and the growth of a newly emerging economy that looks very different than it did just a few decades ago.

In light of these unpredictable cycles, one of the most glaring changes can be found in how we work. Social media coordinators weren’t exactly in high demand at the dawn of the 1990s. Nor were software engineers, brand managers,or online marketers. “The Times, They Are A-Changin”.

But this isn’t an earth-shattering observation.

Take, for instance, the direction of our nation’s workforce. Estimates suggest 40% of American workers (over 60 million people) will be self-employed (e.g. freelancers, contract workers, etc.) by the year 2020. Some predict that number to be closer to 50% with an expectation of continued momentum.

While exerting greater control over your schedule is more simple than it would be working your way up the corporate ladder, there are trade-offs.

The most obvious, perhaps, is the absence of a 9 to 5. Yes, that life came with its downsides – potentially grueling commutes, endless and sometimes unnecessary meetings, and water cooler gossip – but leaving your work AT work remains a covetted benefit.

Life as a freelancer leaves you at the mercy of each job. Working out of a home office can only further complicate matters.

Do I change out of my pajamas?

Can’t they mow the lawn when I’m NOT home?

A deeper dive uncovers even greater issues, but you get the point. There is no perfect world, just manageable steps to be taken. These steps can impact your quality of life in a positive way.

Intentionality

Cutting the Cord

Americans LOVE technology. These devices serve a variety of roles – business, entertainment, family communication tool – living without them seems unimaginable.

On the other hand, getting rid of our phones is neither practical nor desirable. But, we can set them down at dinner or charge them overnight somewhere other than the bedroom.

We can turn on Airplane Mode at regularly scheduled intervals and consciously uncouple ourselves from them during quality time. If you have strong habits, they won’t be broken without a plan and accountability. However, the payoff will be significant.

Scheduling Unscheduled Time

In order to change course from the breakneck pace we’ve come to embrace, it often requires scheduling time to, well, do nothing.

Our minds and bodies have to refresh and recharge if we’re going to be at our best in business and in our relationships with loved ones.

Burning the wick at both ends makes this difficult to achieve. We have to set aside time to take a walk, go for coffee with no agenda, and binge watch our favorite shows.

Managing Our Working Hours

Effective time management isn’t just about what we do when we’re not working; How we choose to work is just as important. Claire Diaz-Ortiz is one of Twitter’s earliest employees.

In her most recent book, Design Your Day, she reveals many of the strategies she lives by now as a stay-at-home working mom. Recently, she discussed how she manages her email inbox. Given her track record, I cannot recommend her advice enough.

Striving for a healthy work and life balance is a noble objective. Getting there doesn’t happen by accident, but it is attainable. Put away the nonstop pace and don’t believe the myth that busier is better. It isn’t – and you’ll be better when you’re balanced!

For more great articles about work, life and finding balance, check out GetThrive.com today!

Calm The Mind
Calm The Mind

Work is Good, Skipping Vacation is Not

Vacations don’t need to be lengthy or expensive, but time-off from long work hours is necessary. Studies are showing that “Millennials” aren’t taking their paid time off. This trend may cause health problems down the line.

What’s with This Generation?

First of all, it’s a bit vague when trying to pinpoint which groups are in which age categories. According to the US Census Bureau, “Baby Boomers” were born somewhere between 1946 and 1964.

According to the census bureau, “Generation X” births began in 1965 but kept going even when the so-called “Gen Y” trend started around 1975. At the tail end of both “generations” began the more commonly recognized “Millennials” born in 1982 lasting until 2004.

It’s this group, the Millennials, that are slacking when it comes to resting. The approximate age of the sector is anywhere between 18 and 35 years old. They’ve also been referred to as “Echo Boomers” and “Digital Natives” (since they don’t know life without the Internet.)

No Rest for the Weary

Evidently, there’s an absurd practice at work called “vacation shaming.” This is an unspoken, judgmental edict placed on employees and managers. Many, especially these Millennials, feel pressured to forfeit their vacation days.

A recently published report based on findings from the Pew Research Center showed that 18-year-olds and up are becoming “work martyrs.” This group feels guilty taking time off. They believe it will leave the company and other workers (at their company) at a disadvantage while they’re away.

The workers are also concerned that they can be replaced easily. So not to place their own jobs in jeopardy, they work longer hours to show their dedication to the position. Because workers are forced to wear so many different hats these days (and take on so much responsibility), it’s no surprise there’s this “worried” mentality. Your Health is All You Have

This report is frightening in many ways. It’s basically pointing out that the common workplace puts work before the employee’s health. It is a sad state of affairs when the company culture silently bullies workers into forfeiting days needed off to recharge.

Work, Work, Work

Taking time-off from work has proven to increase productivity, worker morale, and reduce personal and environmental stress. Stress at work can lead to back-, neck-, and headaches. There’s also eye strain, stomach pain, and cranky moods. And when mistakes are being made, it can be a sign that it’s time to take a break. This can be a severe health hazard for an employee who drives, operates machinery, works with chemicals, etc.

There are laws and human resource personnel to keep the workplace safe—that includes protecting your right to time-off when contracted or deemed necessary. It’s honorable to do a job well done. It’s also honoring your body and mind when you rest.

For other articles on health, work, and families check out www.GetThrive.com

QUIZ: How is Your Mental Health at Work?

Have you ever wondered about your mental health as it relates to your job?

 

Your mental health affects how you feel, think, and act. Take this quiz to see if it might be time to improve your mental health.

 

  • Read each question
  • Choose the response that most closely fits your situation
  • Upon completion, follow the instructions to reveal your level of mental health

(Don’t worry. If you’re a mess, we offer plenty of tips to get you back on track.

1. When you wake up in the morning, are you…

 

  1. a) Excited to get to work?
  2. b) Dreading the workday?
  3. c) Numb and just do what you have to do?

2. When you first get to work, do you…

  1. a) Jump right into a task?
  2. b) Procrastinate because you can’t bear to start?
  3. c) Take your time and eventually start working?

3. When a coworker talks to you, do you…

  1. a) Enjoy having communication?
  2. b) Cringe and want to be left alone?
  3. c) Smile, but move on?

4. When your boss or manager talks to you, do you…

  1. a) Appreciate the communication?
  2. b) Want to scream and run away?
  3. c) Listen politely and then carry on?

 

5. If you think of your workload, you think…

 

  1. a) ”I’m motivated by the challenge!”
  2. b) ”I just got tossed into the ocean with cement shoes”
  3. c) ”This is what my hamster must feel like on his wheel.”

 

6. When you think of your workspace, you think…

 

  1. a) “It’s really a pleasant space.”
  2. b) ”I’d rather be in a dungeon with rats and snakes.”
  3. c) ”I don’t pay much attention. It’s fine.”

 

7. Do you spend most of your workday thinking about…

 

  1. a) Your job, your family, and how you will spend the weekend?
  2. b) How miserable you are and how you can’t wait to get out of there?
  3. c) Your job, your family, and your problems?

 

8. Is your workspace…

 

  1. a) Neat and organized?
  2. b) Like the aftermath of a tornado site?
  3. c) Messy, but you can find things if you have to?

 

9. Do you feel appreciated or positively acknowledged for the work you do?

  1. a) Absolutely
  2. b) Never
  3. c) Sometimes

10. How many times in the past year have you taken sick days?

 

  1. a) between 0 and 3
  2. b) between 4 and 7
  3. c) between 8 and 15

 

11. Which best describes your daily experience at work?

 

  1. a) Grateful for the job and you typically enjoy your day
  2. b) Worst part of my day
  3. c) It is what it is

 

Congratulations on completing the test (and you didn’t even have to study!)

 

Tally up how many questions you answered with an “a”, “b”, and “c”.

 

If you answered all 12 questions with an “a”, then you are rockin’ it with an abundance of positive mental health. You also, seemingly, have a great job! Keep up the terrific attitude and may good health and many bonuses remain in your future.

 

If you answered 6 or more questions with an “a”, your mental health at work is in pretty good shape. It seems as if you like your job for the most part. Perhaps you have an occasional awkward moment with a coworker or manager. You can improve your well-being by using your break time to take a walk or read a book—find a quiet zone to relieve stress during the workday.

 

If you answered 8 or more questions with a “c”, you may feel a little disconnected. Your mental health could be improved. Perhaps you are too passive. Do you want to feel better at work? Do you want to enjoy your job? It might be time to improve your communication skills. Find ways to address what’s bothering you in an appropriate but direct way. Once you become a bigger part of your company, you will feel more alert and passionate.

 

If you answered mostly “a” and “c”, fret not, because your work mental health glass is still half-full. Although there are issues, you can improve your situation by altering a few small things. Perhaps you feel isolated on the job. Or, maybe you don’t feel properly trained or supported. Or maybe you are fairly motivated and others around you are dragging you down. Take a couple of minutes each day to “meditate” in your workspace. You don’t have to sit cross-legged—just close your eyes and go within. Take a few deep breaths. You will feel renewed and your mental energy will be boosted.

 

If you answered mostly “b” and “c”, you may be struggling more than you need to be. It appears you are not particularly happy, and you’ve given up caring somewhat. It will be a change, but the first step to improving your mental health at work is to focus on the good. It may be a challenge to come up with anything positive off the bat, but don’t stop searching. Even if you like the air conditioning, a particular customer, or that you don’t have to work on the weekend—pick something that pleases you. Also, if your workspace is messy, spend a little time getting organized. You will feel proud and will certainly be more productive.

 

If you answered 9 or more questions with a “b”, it might be time to seek new employment. But, before you blame all your anger or misery on your job, check to see if some of the negativity is coming from within. One thing you can do to improve your mental health at work is to focus on the present. Try not to think of all the distressing things bothering you outside of work. Attempt to stay in the moment and give the job (and yourself) a chance. Put warm, happy photos around your workspace. If you are permitted, play music in the background. There are many ways you can create a more positive experience for yourself, even if the environment isn’t ideal.

 

Dr. Dave Campbell Commentary:

 

The Surgeon General of the United States has described the categories of well-being that affect quality-of-life. Self-perceived health, social-connectedness as well as physical and mental health are three of them. Each can be fostered by a healthy, happy and productive workplace. As a physician, I have many patients tell me something like, “Doc, it feels like I’m always at work with no time for myself or my family and friends”.  Odds are that nearly as much time of your time is spent on the job as at home-awake that is.

Remind yourself that it could be worse. Many countries are not as prosperous as the United States. Many people in this country and across the world don’t even have jobs to go to. Take a hard look at your own circumstances in the workplace. Look for the good and foster them. Identify those factors that make for a bad day at work and make them better-with effort.

 

For more information about your mental health, check out GetThrive.com today!

 

 

Is Work/Life Balance Even Possible?

How do we find the perfect work/life balance?   This is a question we have all asked ourselves but many of us don’t sit down and plan the solution?  If you are an entrepreneur, this is an essential undertaking to keep your family, sanity, and productivity all in check.  How do we manage and achieve it all?  Following some essential steps, it’s possible to navigate a business in a positive direction, while keeping life organized and in a state of equilibrium.

 

TIME MANAGEMENT IS KEY

Managing a business may seem as simple as a business plan, achievable goals, and deadlines, but what happens when there is an entire team to manage?  Tracked communication is a great way to open up conversations amongst a group, in a time efficient manner.  Examples of websites which accomplish this include:  www.asana.com , www.trello.com  www.monday.com.  They help specifically project manage either an individual or a team by documenting workload, schedules, and assignments.   Using a tool like these sites allows the team to visualize their work day each morning, so attainable results are achieved by the end of the day.

Staff also now have the advantage of viewing their personal goals and timeframes, while also interacting with the other team members.  Many of these websites have a free version or trial, which makes it easy to explore.  The following points, will not only help in the work place, but with life in general too:

  • Invest in a project management app/website and populate it with weekly/monthly team targets
  • Set realistic daily deadlines, with accomplished tasks ticked off from the previous day. There’s a motivational satisfaction when jobs are crossed off and the team will see results.
  • Management should not overstretch their staff. There are only so many hours in a day.
  • False promises should not be made to clients.
  • Smaller tasks should be outsourced. A Website like peopleperhour.com  is a convenient resource.
  • If a deadline looming, switching off email for a period of time can help prevent distractions.
  • Get away from the desk. If high speed wifi is available, almost anywhere can become an office, where work can be accomplished while sipping that latte.

 

LIFE BALANCE

Trying to please everyone can be mentally and physically exhausting.  Set limits and don’t be afraid to say no.  It is proven that a work-life balance leads to higher levels of productivity.  It is possible to achieve results without compromising happiness:

  • Carve out time everyday for friends or family, no matter how hectic life is. Happiness at home will project positively on to work place performance.
  • All work and no play can lead to stress and a severe case of dull person syndrome. Switch off the phone and partake in activities like exercise or hobbies.
  • Weekly/monthly responsibilities at home should be shared, if possible, so they do not creep into work hours.
  • Take time to be healthy. Eat right, sleep 6-8 hours, aim for some sort of activity each day, even if it’s just a walk.

We are all trying to succeed within a small space of time, and how we manage that time shapes our success and happiness.  Self discipline and organization are tools that can help achieve that.  LIVE TO WORK is so yesterday, the future is WORK TO LIVE.  There may be a few hiccups along the way but with determination and focus work-life balance can be accomplished.

 

To learn more about work-life balance, check out GetThrive.com

 

References

www.asana.com

www.trello.com

www.monday.com

www.peopleperhour.com

 

 

Bad Moms, Average Moms, Best Moms?

In the best of all worlds, mothers should be honored on a daily basis, not just one day a year. And within that honor, should include an understanding of a basic human reality—no one is perfect. With that, lives the contradiction that no mom is perfect, yet each mom is perfect. The mom we get and the moms we become are perfect for our individual lives. How we were raised and how we are raising children, shapes who we are and all that we can become.

In today’s media-driven society, everyone clamors to post their best photo or most impressive description of their mom. One husband may post that he is grateful for his wife who cleans, gourmet-feeds, brand-name dresses, gently disciplines, and mini-van chauffeurs the kids. How wonderful for him and their children. But is mom getting enough rest or any of her other needs met? Hopefully so. And for that family, that may work out wonderfully.

Yet, what about the mom who gets up and has to hop in the shower so she herself can be clean for work? She doesn’t have time to make pancakes, eggs, and bacon for the kids. But she yells to them from the bathroom, as she dries her hair, to grab a banana, a granola bar, and put a frozen waffle in the toaster. She reminds them to be polite to others on the bus and not to talk to strangers. Is she a less superior mom?

There’s a comedy film soon to be released titled, Bad Moms. Whether the movie turns out to be funny is irrelevant right now—the point is that every woman who’s seen the trailer or heard of the title laughs aloud and is intrigued by the concept.

We’re compelled by this notion because being a “bad mom” swirls in our heads daily. It’s either something we identify with, something we experienced, or something we are deathly afraid of becoming. Whichever of these fit our description, we still deserve to be celebrated on Mother’s Day—without judgment.

Moms need to be celebrated for bringing us into the world. By their divine grace and through our own years of experience, we learn tolerance and forgiveness.

Your mom was perfect for you. She may have brilliantly nurtured you or, in other ways, caused emotional damage; either scenario, it has supplied an experience into your life that has helped inform who you have become.

As we age, we realize we must take responsibility for our choices and behavior, just as that is the same information we must impart to our children, regardless of the wonderful things we’ve done for them—or the mistakes we’ve made.

Hope your Mother’s day was perfect for the perfectly imperfect mother you are and for the mother that you have (or had.) All we can do is our best, and that is worth celebrating.

 

 

How Changing Your Work Environment Can Change You

Working for a living can be tough, but it’s mandatory for many of us. But as the days, weeks, months, and years roll by, we sometimes find ourselves slipping into a slump, which decreases our activity, productivity, and even our mental health.

Love or hate your job, sometimes we all need a little change of scenery. In fact, that might be just the thing you need to boost your productivity levels throughout the day.

 

1. Take a Break  

 

No matter how busy you are or what you are tasked with, don’t forget to take periodic breaks. Go out and grab an afternoon coffee or go for a walk. Taking a breath of fresh air will help to ease tension clear your mind, and give you the ability to think clearly and even problem solve better.

2. Boost Creativity

 

Not only can changing your work environment help you boost productivity, it can also help you boost your creativity. Changing your work environment and work scenery can help you to be more open-minded and even “think outside the box”.

3. Fine Tune and Focus

 

Sometimes breaking away from a busy work environment can do more harm than good. For example, if you work in a office that is busy, loud or otherwise disruptive, then breaking away and working in more of a quiet, secluded place might be what you need to shut the world out, focus, and get things done.

4. Minimize Distractions

 

You might be surprised to discover what you can get done by simply minimizing distractions. Whether that is turning off your phone or text messages, staying off social media, putting up an automated message on your instant message program or email, find out what your biggest distractions are during the day and do what you need to do to minimize them.

5. Set Time Limits

 

Once you have found your own place of quiet and solitude, it’s time to set time limits to get certain tasks done. Start with the hardest task or the task you dislike most first. Set time limits for each task, and then watch the day fly by as you get things done!

6. Plan a Working Vacation

 

It might sound silly but sometimes planning a few days, a long weekend or even a week away to the beach might be all you need to change your scenery (if your job permits this flexibility, of course).

Of course not everyone’s job allows for them to up and hop a plane or jump in the car and drive to wherever, but even making the tiniest changes to your work environment can make a huge impact on your productivity and creativity—and it can even be easy on your mind. In fact, you might even feel like a brand new person!

If you have a job where you are confined to a specific office (and you might even feel “chained” to the desk, so to speak), then it doesn’t mean you are out of luck.

You can do simply things like have your office walls painted, redecorated, add some plants to your desk, reorganize your supplies or even your office furniture. Sometimes even those small changes can make a world of a difference.

Changing your work environment can change you—for the better! Check out this site here to learn more ways to increase your productivity.

For more tips on how to live a healthier and happier lifestyle, check out some more blogs at GetThrive.com.

 

 

Make Your Bucket List Before You Kick the Bucket

A Bucket List- Everyone has one. It’s that “list of things to do before we die” that make up our bucket lists. In fact, many believe that actively living according to one’s bucket list can help to embrace life.

Embrace Life- They say that whenever a door closes, somewhere a window opens. This is great advice by which to live. And often, dramatic downturns or pitfalls in our lives lead to the birth of our bucket lists. It is through perseverance, hard work, and strength that get us through the tough times and teach us to live each day to the fullest.

Carpe Diem-  A bucket list can help us do just that. It can help us to focus on doing those fun, positive things and reach powerful milestones that make our lives that much more fulfilling. Fulfill your list-before you kick the bucket.