Workplace Stress Part 1

Can we use a model for mental health as a model for being happy at work?

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In this first part of this series on Workplace Stress, I am going to explore the foundations of what we need in order to be emotionally and mentally healthy. Later in the series I will explore how these principles can be extended to our working life.

As a Human Givens therapist, I accept that we all have a series of innate needs that need to be met in order to be mentally healthy and that we all have a set of innate resources that need to be functioning at optimal levels in order to help us get these needs met.  If our workplace is such that we are not getting our needs met; or our innate resources are not what they should be, work ends up becoming a very stressful part of our lives.  Workplace stress can ultimately lead to depression, anxiety, physical illness and a raft of other preventable conditions.

How do we protect ourselves from potentially succumbing to workplace stress?

The first step is to recognise what our emotional needs are.  You can read a little more about them here.

  1. Security – feeling that our environment is safe
  2. Autonomy – a sense of control
  3. Attention – giving and receiving it
  4. Intimacy – connection with others
  5. Community – being part of a team
  6. Status – a sense of value within the community
  7. Competence – a sense of our knowledge, skills and ability
  8. Privacy – time to reflect
  9. Meaning – what we do has a purpose beyond ourselves

Now ask yourself:  when I look at my place of work, to what extent are these needs being met? If your job is not secure because of the threat of redundancies, then you are missing a sense of security.  That could then impact on your sense of control or autonomy and status.  If you feel what you are doing has no real meaning or purpose, then that need is not being met.  If you discover that your needs are not being met for a vast chunk of your day, that could explain why you feel stressed at work.

You now need to have a look at your innate resources.  You can click here to read more about them.

  1. Long term memory – allows us to constantly add to our knowledge and to learn
  2. Rapport – allows us to connect to others
  3. Imagination – problem solve in the mind
  4. Emotions – allows us to feel and to react
  5. Rational mind – logic
  6. Understand metaphors – allows us to make sense of the world via intuition
  7. The observing self – ability to step back and observe when we are in a relaxed frame of mind
  8. Ability to dream – I would suggest reading this page about dreaming

These form part of our daily coping skills and guidance system.  You can now ask yourself:  do I have these resources and are they functioning at optimal level?  Is my environment allowing me to use and develop these? You might find you are missing one or two or they need some tweaking.

Come back in the next few days for part 2: Some of the key causes of stress in the workplace

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