The worldwide economic recession is no longer on the evening news. Now, it's part of the landscape where work is no longer what it used to be. Almost every major company has downsized, leaving idle workers to their own devices and getting a job has turned into an achievement in itself, let alone keeping one. This means that most of the time we have to take the job we can, and not the one we want. But that's no reason to feel apathetic or frustrated about it. Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, famously said that "work, love and taking responsibility" are the three most important aspects of a healthy life. Let's take a look at some mental strategies to achieve a healthy work-life balance, and what to do when that's not possible.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket
Diversification is the first strategy of financial brokers: They set different objectives and work on them simultaneously, spreading their efforts on different potential sources of profit. If one of them fails, it doesn't mean the loss of an important investment or, in psychoanalytic terms, libido. Thanks to the internet you can find a broad range of activities to do from home that, while requiring only a few hours of work in a month, can provide a steady source of income.
Work as a means, not an end
Aim for a job on something that has meaning to you, something you really like and enjoy doing. You'll then start seeing work under a different light. You may not be thrilled with the task you are working on right now, but from a different angle, it could be the first step towards something grand. Once you've had this insight, your productivity will automatically increase. Place your focus beyond the immediate results as much as possible. Arranging the piles of papers and notes on your desk, for example, might be the first step towards a stress-free and uncluttered work life.
Find a hobby
While your job may take up most of your workday, it's still important to leave room for leisurely activities. That's because human creativity reaches its greatest potential at times of rest, relaxation and amusement. Take time to lay back, have fun and make the most out of your creative free-time. The Greek philosopher Aristotle already talked about the importance of this around 400 B.C., when he said that those times are the best to engage your deepest desires. You can surely find workshops, courses and a wide range of activities that will give you an opportunity to try this approach out.
Set up a comfortable environment
The inability to cope with frustration leads to chronic bad moods. Frustrated people don't work as eagerly and are frequently difficult to deal with in the work place. And that can turn into a major problem since, more often than not, people working for the same company spend a lot of time together, usually more than they spend with each of their own families. During the time you get to spend together, it's best to create and maintain an environment where everybody's opinion is respected, tolerance reigns and there's a general agreement on the rules of conduct.
Shut off your surroundings, if necessary
As hard as you may try, if you can't manage to build and sustain a healthy working environment, or if you are in a particularly foul mood, there are always alternatives. A good pair of headphones can do a lot for you in such a case: you can simply remove yourself from your surroundings by tuning into your favourite radio station or listening to music. If you can't wear headphones at work, you might just need to concentrate on happy thoughts to shield yourself from the situation. The key is not to fall into chronic complaining, since that only feeds bad energy back into the environment.
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Keep your resume up to date
If you're not entirely comfortable with your current working arrangement, keep your resume up to date. But that's not the end of it: nowadays, social networks are the main tool when searching for a job. Networking is the key to finally finding somewhere you really enjoy working at. It's important to know that not everyone chooses their work for the same reasons. According to social psychology, there are different types of motivation when it comes to work. Some are stimulated by money, while some by social recognition and less quantifiable factors. It's just the same way with companies: every one is motivated by something slightly different. What's your main motivation to work? Is it your salary? The impact of your work on society? The atmosphere in the office? Once you've found that out, your search for the perfect working arrangement will be laid out in front of you.
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Establish the best possible relationship with your peers and bosses
References are essential when changing jobs. It's always advisable to leave a job in the best possible way to ensure your former bosses keep a good memory of your performance and demeanour, and to leave the door open behind you, just in case. That doesn't mean you need to lie. Being courteous, they say, does not detract from being brave. And keep in mind that any social interaction, such as your relationship to your former bosses and peers, always entails reciprocation. As the wise old proverb goes: "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine."
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Try to explore your inner self. Set yourself goals for the short, medium and long term. Exploit your most adaptable features and try to work on those that are not. In most cases, undertaking this process of self-discovery with professional help can lead to great results. Trying to change someone else's attitudes will lead to frustration more often than not. Remember that nothing is more rewarding than the feeling of having achieved something.
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Eliminate complaints and start doing
When everything takes a turn for the worst, try not to complain from the comfort of your seat. Do you know of anyone that managed to change anything just by complaining? If you're feeling uncomfortable, try to make the most out of the situation and to learn as much as you can from every experience. And if you feel you can't bear it any more, fight for a change. But remember: your struggle is internal. What bothers you? Why? Is there a solution? Which tools do your have to deal with this? Are there any alternatives? Have you learned enough here and is it time to take a new course? Ask yourself as many questions as necessary to put yourself in action.
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If the change seems too big, try starting small
You can't always change jobs. The current economy does not always allow for big career changes. But small adjustments are always possible. The key is to look for solutions instead of focusing on the problems. Emphasizing our strengths allows us to take every opportunity to create a more enjoyable working routine. Remember that work is part of a healthy life, but it is still only a part of it.
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