In this all new series, Wisdom at Work, I’m going to explore all topics related to having a healthy and wise relationship to work. Work for many people is the source of various relational, personal, and health problems. Many people dread going to work and are unhappy and when they’re there. But work can also be the source of tremendous joy, meaning, and satisfaction in people’s lives. In this WisdomFeed original Wisdom at Work weekly series, I’ll be exploring how people can experience more joyous work.
In today’s piece, I’m going to tackle how to have a stress free work day.
How can we not feel stressed at work? Better yet, how can we feel energized at work?
Stress comes from feeling pressured. Pressure is not necessarily good or bad, as good pressure helps us perform better, which can bring joy. But often, it’s the way we respond to pressure that leads to us to feeling the bad kinds of stress, which is an unpleasant feeling of tension and tightness. When we’re feeling the bad kind of stress, it’s like there’s a knot in our stomach that stops us from relaxing and enjoying ourselves.
We might not be able to get rid of pressure at work, but we can learn to have a better relationship to it. Ultimately we don’t want to eliminate stress, but to have more of the good kind of stress and less of the bad. Attempting to avoid stress entirely would lead to dissatisfaction, boredom, and the feeling of not living up to your potential. Those are actually different kinds of stress, so trying to avoid it just brings more of it.
According to a psychology today article, “Studies show that helping people see certain experiences—such as final exams—as demanding rather than dire, protects them from the negative effects of stress while delivering its positive effects, especially focused attention and speedier information processing.” To be demanding, means that something requires a lot of skill , challenge, and effort. We want our work to be challenging, otherwise it would be boring, which as mentioned, is a form of negative stress. Dire means extremely serious or urgent, and we want to avoid seeing our work as dire. When we start to see our work as serious and urgent, our work becomes a lot less enjoyable, and our productivity actually goes down.
The key then to non-stressful work, is to focus on doing something challenging, fun and difficult– and to work hard but be entirely patient with it. When we focus on large tasks that are important, fun, and challenging, and take our time with it, we end up with work that we’re proud of. Focusing on small, simple tasks, that require a lot of urgency, just leads to stress. The key to productivity and minimal stress at work then, is to do more of this “deep work” as Cal Newport would say, and less of the urgent simple kind of work.
If we try to implement more deep work into our work routines, we can all go home feeling great about our work day—and we’ll be more productive in the process.
Matt Rosenblum is the owner of Advanced Life Coach Marketing, which helps life coaches grow their practices, become famous in their niche, make online courses and more. Do you want more life coaching clients? Be sure to check out Advanced Life Coach Marketing’s Free 9 Page Life Coach Marketing Strategy Guide.