In recent years, discussion of bullying in school and its devastating impact on those who are bullied has made its way into mainstream consciousness. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t stop at the school level.
In one study, nearly forty percent of respondents reported having experienced at least some form of bullying at work (International Journal of Stress Management, August, 2012).
Bullying in the workplace can take many forms, including: exclusion, verbal abuse, sexual intimidation, threats and ridicule. Common and somewhat insidious forms of workplace bullying include gossip, unnecessary criticism, wrongful judgment and unpleasant job assignment.
When we talk about mental health, we often talk about problems. We focus on how to reduce anxiety and depression, lessen conflict in relationships or ease uncomfortable symptoms for good reason. But we often overlook the importance of creating happiness. We might even assume that happiness just comes if we decrease our problems.
We forget that happiness is something that we have control over. It’s something we can make a conscious effort to increase.
Happiness, of course, is great. And it goes hand in hand with decreasing problematic stress and other mental health problems. If we’re happy, then we’re not stressed, anxious or depressed. If we’re happy we’re better able to cope with mental health problems.
Each person has a particular set of beliefs about the world. Our beliefs come from our past experiences and natural tendencies of our character. Believing that you and the world around you must be perfect in order for you to be happy is a common character trait.
Doing your best can make you feel competent, proud and in control of your life. But when you believe that perfect is the only road to a happy life, you will find yourself dissatisfied.
The pursuit of perfection doesn’t make us happier or ease stress. In fact, seeking perfection does the opposite. It is linked to increased stress and a number of other emotional, physical, and relationship problems, such as anxiety depression or eating disorders.
Most of us harbor some sort of secret dream and summer is a great time for dreaming. It is normal to yearn to achieve something that has always felt slightly out of reach. We may wish to write a novel, play the piano, learn a second language, learn to figure skate or surf.
As we grow older, we often put our dreams on hold and assume that learning new skills is for the young. Psychologist Gary Marcus, PhD. put that assumption to the test. What he found was that learning is not necessarily the domain only of the young.
In the first half of this year, readers really connected with a few posts filled with practical strategies to reduce problematic stress. These posts are aimed at improving your ability to cope with life’s uncertainties and reducing the pressure that can leave you fatigued, spinning your wheels or unable to enjoy your life.
Check out common stress-inducing thoughts in this post and a few tips to respond differently to them.
Whether it’s college life, a new retirement, changes at work, a new baby, health crisis or conflict with the in-laws, life can be full of uncertainty and pressure. This post has two very practical strategies to decrease the anxiety and depression that can accompany difficult times.
Strained relationships create stress and can have a negative impact on your mood and your ability to function throughout the day. When you’re in conflict with someone else, you’re more likely to be worried, distracted or highly emotional.
We cannot make other people act as we’d wish, but we can become aware of when we act in ways that lead to problems in relationships. As we identify our own communication problems, we can choose to make changes in how we interact. If you do, you might just find that you’re able to solve intractable problems and that habitual conflicts no longer occur.
Making even small changes to how you communicate can improve the quality of your relationships.
With each breath we nourish our bodies, bring necessary oxygen to our organs and muscles and make life itself possible. Generally, we are unconscious of the ongoing rhythm of our breathing and often it is only when we have difficulty breathing that we pay it any attention.
But this fundamental act of breathing is not only necessary to life, it is also a powerful tool in connecting to our sense of calm and centeredness. Through breathing we can connect to our bodies, our own internal rhythms and the experience of being alive.
When left unattended, strong emotions can lead to destructive behaviors. Attending to times that you feel hurt, belittled, let down, disrespected, insulted or threatened is key to dealing with the anger that often comes from those experiences.
You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and and here for podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.
Angry man photo available from Shutterstock.
But, if you pay attention, you will likely find that there are certain emotionally or mentally painful circumstances that you get caught in. Maybe it’s the angry thoughts about someone who has hurt you or pessimistic thinking about troubles you have faced.
Each of us has a tendency to get caught in certain types of thinking that prolongs painful emotions. Instead of enjoying a relaxing evening, we might find ourselves ruminating on something hurtful someone said, or rather than solving a difficult problem and moving on, you may find you are again and again drawn to thoughts about how unfair your circumstances are.
Sometimes it seems as if the mind just wants to hold on to these painful thoughts and circumstances. Even as we try to get rid of unpleasant thoughts, we may find ourselves rethinking and reliving painful situations.
A child can spend hours splashing in the water in a sink. This is because the child approaches the water coming from the faucet as a beginner. The water is interesting and miraculous. In this case, the child doesn’t approach the water as if it already knows everything interesting about it. It approaches the water as a beginner, as if there is so much to discover.