Work related stress and challenging work environments are frequent topics of discussion with my clients. While our lives are never completely immune to stress, certain situations or occurrences can escalate stress and make it feel unmanageable: difficult transitions, complex work, disappointments, mistakes, or periods of exhaustion, and especially a demanding work environment we cannot change.
What can we do within our own sphere of control, within the realities of our day to day? How can we better process, integrate, and manage the natural stressors that accompany life?
Making the time for reflective practice
We can start by taking the time and making the space to reflect on the day’s activities, on our experiences, on our conversations and interactions with others.
Taking pause – even for a few minutes – helps us to deepen our awareness of what is happening around us and how we are experiencing it. This takes practice but integrating this reflective exercise into our daily lives helps us to shift pace, tune into our feelings and our thoughts, regulate our nervous system, bring perspective to the present moment, and open ourselves to different possibilities.
Giving ourselves the time and space for reflection, calming our nervous system, helps us to integrate and process our experiences more effectively. We can then access our personal position and ponder the meaning, value, or purpose of these experiences. The information we gather helps us create appropriate strategies we can rely on during challenging periods.
With practice and with self-compassion, we can begin to design personally manageable and realistic approaches to stress reduction. These can include identifying specific spaces and/or activities that create a shift in our bodies, our minds and in the pace of our day, to help us to relax. They might include interests and activities outside of our work, nourishing conversation and/or support from family and friends. They might include some form of regular physical activity (a daily walk is great!), monitoring and making changes to our sleeping and eating habits, and ensuring we are well hydrated. They might include daily meditation or a designated period of quiet time.
Boundaries, Attitudes and Possible Change
We can practice setting realistic and healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries should enhance our well-being; they do not mean exclusion or rigidity. They should be flexible and correspond with the movement and development of our lives.
For reflection: Do I have clear boundaries between work and the rest of my life? Where are boundaries a struggle in my life? What changes are possible in my life to develop realistic boundaries? How can I implement these changes – with practice – into my daily life?
We can examine the attitudes we hold, the expectations we have, and the dominant narratives that influence our relationship with work, with others, and with ourselves.
For reflection: What expectations do I hold of work? Do I step into life with openness? Do I practice self-compassion and self-acceptance? Do I carry rigid views of who I should be?
We can practice accepting, and working with, both the realities AND the possibilities within our lives. This gives us a landscape for change, if necessary.
For reflection: What are my current realities at work, outside of work? What is challenging? What is working well? What choices are before me? What can I change or modify in my work or my life? What is possible? Where might I need support?
These are the conversations at Canvas Career Counselling. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to book a consultation call.