Stress and mental health problems in the workplace are costing employees and businesses dearly. Estimates show that 60-80% of workplace accidents are due to stress, while the U.S. economy as a whole loses $500 billion annually because of it. So what can be done to prevent negative thoughts from turning into the levels of stress that cause such psychological and financial damage?
One important step you can take it to improve your emotional agility, a term defined by psychologist Susan David as: ‘the process that enables us to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness and an open mind.’
This doesn’t mean preventing any negative thoughts occurring to you, because that isn’t possible, but training your mind to identify and respond to them in a more robust manner. If you can objectively flag these negative thoughts as being unhelpful, you can realise that it’s ok to dismiss or challenge them.
Once you have established that the self-doubt or despair you might be feeling isn’t going to be productive, you can use it to motivate yourself to achieve something, so setting yourself a new goal can be a powerful way to pull yourself out of the negative feelings.
There’s also practical things you can do with your body to help you to bounce back from a workplace disappointment or setback. One is to get active, because going for a walk around the office or outside for some fresh air helps you to focus your energy on your body rather than on your troubled mind. If that isn’t possible, just take a minute to breathe deeply and count to 10 before you start to respond or react to the problem.
Another technique that can be helpful to deal with negative thoughts in the workplace is to practice visualization, which activates positive anticipatory thinking and blocks out the negativity. So when you are stressed, focus on the cause of it and then imagine yourself to be calm and happy again, and you will start to feel it happening.
Writing can also be a useful exercise in these situations, helping you to process the emotions you are feeling as well as taking out the intensity, so focusing on a more positive experience and writing about it can also boost your emotional agility.
When all else fails, the only thing left to do is to look inwards and focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Setbacks and the negative emotion that follow them invite us to feel inadequate in our jobs, so when you start to do this, fight back against that feeling by writing down three things you like about yourself.
These techniques will all help you to improve your emotional agility and make you better at responding to difficult times in the workplace, and you can find out more about them in this infographic from Quid Corner. Your job can be a lot of fun or it can be a constant challenge, but it’s up to you how you let it affect you, so use these tips and show just how strong you can be.