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Feel Stressed at Work? Darn’t, Get Positive!

By Bridget Quigg, PayScale.com

There are plenty of reasons to feel stressed at work: more work than you have time to complete, lazy workmates or a boss that seems out to get you. In fact, a new study even shows people high on the totem pole at work (VPs and CEOs) may be four times more likely to be psychopaths than the general population. How do you keep your cool when working under all of this stress? Get ready to smile because you’ve got to direct your feet to the sunny side of the street and think positive.

Shawn Achor, a Harvard trained positive psychology guru and author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work, is sure that you can train your mind to lower stress and boost happiness on the job. He has the following suggestions that are proven to help you handle work stress.

Work like a sprinter, not a marathoner. Anchor tells us that after two hours of continuous work, our brain function actually slows and our body accumulates stress and strain. We can beat this pattern by taking breaks throughout the day. Anchor suggests splitting up your workday into short sprints of 90-120 minutes, then takng time for 5 minutes of recovery. You’re likely to feel more positive and boost your concentration and productivity.



Train your brain to find the good. Anchor wants you to say, out loud, three things you’re grateful for twenty-one days in a row. This effort to be grateful can re-wire your brain to be more positive.

Brighten your environment. Everything around you - from the color of your walls to the mood of your coworkers - affects the way you think and feel. Surround your desk with cartoon cut-outs, pictures and objects that prime you for positive thinking.

Talk it out. Do you have a favorite co-worker who will listen to your gripe? Neuroscientists have discovered that verbalizing thoughts can act like a wet blanket on the fire of negative emotions—the simple act of putting emotions into words immediately calms them.

Get chummy. Smart people make not-so-smart choices during times of stress, like shutting down their social networks to focus on work. The greatest predictor of success during stress and challenge is the quantity and quality of your relationships. Anchor says that strong social bonds enrich our daily lives, give meaning to our work, and even improve our physical health. Head out for a cup of coffee with a friend and make time to strengthen these connections in your life. 


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