Our relationships with the work we do are a subject to enter the therapy room with great regularity. For many of us, how we are doing in our work has a significant bearing on how we are doing overall. Hardly surprising, given the emphasis placed on work as a facet of our identities and the inescapable fact that, due to the fact we have bills that need paying, most of us tend to spend the majority of our waking hours at our places of work.
I am fascinated by the impact that how we employ our time has on us, and remain committed to exploring ways in which we can reduce stress, promote resilience and enhance creativity. This deep-seated interest is something I hold as something more than an academic curiosity: I am constantly thinking about wellbeing as a holistic working concept, and hope to share my observations and learnings as widely as possible, as often as I can.
I do this in my therapy practice, and in my mindfulness consultancy teaching individuals, teams and groups how to recognise and respond to their stress signatures whilst addressing the so-called work-life balance (so simple, in theory, so complicated, in practice) and their identity (which I see as wider than a job title). This type of work is constantly in progress - we never arrive at perfect balance: it is something we need to address and review regularly, in order to continue to respond wisely and skillfully - this is how we maintain ourselves. The higher our stress, the more blinkered we become, and the harder it is to see what it is that we are apt to do to ourselves, which is itself disabling.
Stress is a contagion. We cannot escape this reality. It eats people up and burns others out. I see its devastating consequences each and every week I work with people. I have become acutely aware of the connection between work and our identity: it seems that most of us derive a great deal more than our payslip from whatever it is that keeps us busy. What we have to show for what we do, may be positive or negative. Work can be helpful or harmful for us, and this depends, I think, to a large extent, on how we are doing our work.
Stress is the adverse reaction people have to
excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them.
Perhaps we have stayed in a job, or in a sector that no longer feels to 'fit'. Perhaps we have outgrown not only our position but the organisation as a whole. Just like shoes that pinch, if we stay in the uncomfortable job for long enough, we will get blisters.
Perhaps we are experiencing the effects of inadequate support. When working under pressure, we need to know that we have quality support available to us. And that support must be accessible, and consistent.
Whilst today I work for myself, it was not ever thus. Whilst today I am self-employed, I remain a realist. I seek to support those who are unhappy in their work to identify what it is that they are missing, before facilitating a meaningful exploration as to the options available to them.
Sometimes it is helpful to simply have an objective space in which to explore what it is that you are experiencing at work with someone neutral. I hope to bring to our dialogue some valuable objectivity, with which we might begin to see more clearly what, exactly, it is that is causing the difficulty you are experiencing, before thinking about what steps you might wish to consider.
One life. Live it well. 7 days a week.