Wednesday 18 December 2019

Ways to stop overthinking your job

Overthinking our job is a common trap. When you consider that we can have up to 70,000 thoughts per day, according to a National Science Foundation study, with 95% of the thoughts being repetitive and 80% being negative, it’s no wonder we sometimes get bogged down by our minds.

Impact of negative thoughts

When we spend too much time thinking negatively, it can have a serious impact on our mental wellbeing, which in turn can lead to physical symptoms such as stress, anxiety and, ultimately, depression. Ongoing stress, if not treated, can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes, to name a few. So, it’s really important that we recognise negative thinking at an early stage and take action.

Work  life balance

When we break down how much time we spend at work compared to our private life, this adds up to a considerable chunk of our week.

Average time spent during a week: at work – 40 hours; personal time – 79 hours; sleep – 49 hours

Now take into consideration that we don’t just think about our jobs when we're at work and that these thoughts also spill over into our personal time. If you’re being honest with yourself, how many of those 79 hours do you spend thinking about your job?

Sadly, many of us have recurring, negative thoughts on a daily basis. Maybe you worry that you’re inadequate at work, fearful of losing your job, or afraid of what colleagues think about you.

Ways to stop overthinking

Fortunately, there are ways we can get on top of our thought process. Although we are still likely to have a similar number of thoughts per day, we can, however, choose to change the kind of thoughts we have.

1. Quiet time

Take time out from everything and spend some time on your own, even if it’s just for half an hour every day. It’s so important that we empty our minds from time to time in order to reduce stress and feel calmer. Relaxation techniques and meditation offer simple ways to clear your mind and help you unwind, especially before bedtime so that you have a restful sleep that isn’t interrupted by dreams concerning your job.

Another option is to put pen to paper and let your thoughts spill out. This can be extremely therapeutic and can help you deal with negative or unwanted thoughts.

2. Stop comparing

It’s easy to see the positives in everyone else and not in ourselves but this can be damaging to our mental health if done on a regular basis. Remember that everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. You may well excel at a task that a colleague is not capable of completing.

Social media is often a root cause of us comparing ourselves to others. If possible, try not to follow or have work colleagues as friends on your social accounts as this can create more negative thoughts about your job which could take over your personal time.

3. Occupy your mind

One of the best ways to stop overthinking your job is to occupy your mind with activities such as puzzles, crosswords or reading. You can also practise mindfulness (to bring your attention to the here and now), take up a hobby such as photography, or set yourself a physical challenge that will test your mettle and take your mental focus off work.

4. Talk about your thoughts

This may seem like a daunting task when work-related thoughts are in play but when you air your concerns in a positive way, you might find that they're merely just thoughts that you've created yourself. Perhaps you’re worried that your boss is angry with you or doesn't think you’re good enough at your job? Either way, whether our thoughts are justified or pure fabrication, talking about them can often put our minds at rest. Afterwards, you’ll probably wonder why you wasted so much of your time stressing over something that could be easily resolved.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

How to prevent workplace bullying

Unfortunately, bullying isn’t just something we experience at school or when we’re younger, it can continue into adult life. Workplace bullying is far more commonplace than you might expect.

What is bullying?

So, what constitutes bullying and how can we recognise it?

  • Gossiping – talking negatively behind someone’s back, spreading malicious rumours or trying to turn others against someone are bullying tactics that can cause problems in the workplace.
  • Exclusion – If you are being excluded from certain activities in or outside of the workplace, such as lunchtime gatherings and social events, this can leave you wondering whether you're disliked and whether you have done something to upset people.
  • Unreasonable criticism – There will be times for most of us when we don’t get things quite right and we may be criticised for our work or behaviour, but when you feel as though the criticism is unjust or becoming a regular occurrence, you could be experiencing bullying tactics.
  • Abusive language – If someone uses abusive or offensive language towards you, this can be extremely upsetting. Whether it’s directed at you because of your race, religion or sexual orientation, this is unacceptable behaviour that needs addressing. 
  • Sabotage – Very often, a workplace bully will do everything in their power to sabotage your work and reputation. Perhaps they have taken credit for a successful task you have completed, or maybe they put the blame on you to cover up their own mistakes.

Effects of bullying

Bullying can have serious, detrimental affects on our mental and physical health if it isn’t nipped in the bud. As well as causing low self-esteem, disturbed sleep patterns, anger, lack of concentration, and a feeling of helplessness, the physical symptoms can be quite traumatic. When we undergo a large amount of stress for long periods of time, our bodies react and you could experience high blood pressure, panic attacks and ulcers.

Whether it’s yourself or someone else that is being bullied, this can also have a negative effect on the workplace so it’s important for employers and employees to recognise when it’s happening. Working in a toxic and hostile environment is unpleasant for everyone and can have knock-on effects for the whole workforce. It can cause a drop in productivity, a rise in absenteeism, low retention and high staff turnover, if bullying isn’t dealt with appropriately, it can result in legal issues.

Reasons for bullying

More often than not, bullies are lacking in self-esteem and feel the need to bring others down in order to build themselves up. Maybe they are jealous of your position at work, your relationships, how much you earn, your intelligence or even your appearance.

If bullies feel inferior or see someone as a threat, they use bullying tactics so that they can feel in control and gain recognition.

How to deal with workplace bullies

  • Speak up – Try to speak to the bully in a calm manner. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice so that you don’t appear threatening or intimidating. Keep eye contact, a relaxed posture and explain why their behaviour is causing a problem. Sometimes, bullies aren’t conscious of their behaviour and when confronted, they might just take on board your concerns.
  • Speak with someone in authority – Discuss the situation with your boss, or if it’s your boss that’s displaying the signs of a bully, then speak with someone higher up or in HR. Before you do speak to someone, keep a record of the times, dates and events of the bullying.
  • Seek support – Spend time with close friends and family and talk to them about what you’re going through as they can offer support and reassurance that will boost your self-esteem. 
  • Look for another job – This isn’t the most ideal outcome but if you have taken action and done all of the above but the bullying continues and your mental and physical health is suffering because of it, perhaps finding another place of work is the only other option that remains. 

If you or someone else is being bullied in the workplace, the website GOV.UK offers helpful advice. Alternatively, speak with ACAS on 0300 123 1100 or read their advice leaflet.