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.
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.
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.
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.
In part I, which was posted on May 3rd, I discussed how people often engage in problematic behaviors, such as over or under eating, drinking and smoking in response to stress. In an American Psychological Association survey on stress, people reported lack of willpower as preventing them from making the lifestyle and behavior changes recommended by a health care provider.
In order to improve their willpower, women said they needed to decrease fatigue, increase energy and improve confidence.
Men were more likely to say they need more money, while women were more likely to say they need more time. Women identified household chores, in particular, as interfering with their willpower to cope with stress in healthy ways.
This post will focus on improving confidence and finding time.
Are you trying to make positive changes in your life? When we want to do something differently, say, to stop smoking, curb our temper or exercise more frequently, we often start with enthusiasm. But habits are hard to change. After an initial burst of energy, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns of behavior.
What we too frequently ignore when we try to make changes is what is happening around us that either enhances motivation or encourages us to slip back into the status quo.
When you are trying to make changes, what happens as soon as you act in a particular way has an impact on whether you will stick it out. Say, for example, you’d like to exercise more often. We all know the long-term benefits of exercise, but what happens as soon as you make the decision to exercise?
How you interact matters, as much as and sometimes more than, the words that you say. Imagine someone asking for a raise. One person does so with a smile and straightforward gaze, while another says the same words with a frown and stares at her shoes and hangs her head.
Your body language and style not only affect the outcome, but also the way you feel. Sometimes we interact in ways that wear at our own self-confidence.
Situation: Someone “borrows” things from you and doesn’t return them
Try this: Explain the situation, “I’m out of cash and need the $5 you borrowed.” Express how you feel, “I keep worrying about it and I’d be relieved to have it back.” Ask (and possibly offer a solution), “can you have it for me this afternoon? I’ll text you to remind you, before we meet.”
Situation: You clean the house and a partner leaves clutter and dishes all over, expecting you to pick up.
Are you stuck “doing the right thing” while sacrificing what you want? Often, we’re stressed out not because others are expecting things from us, but because we expect them from ourselves. These internal “shoulds” may have originated in external expectations, moral codes or rules that you internalized long ago that have now become pressures you place on yourself.