People often talk about the Sunday night blues (AKA the Sunday scaries); that feeling that comes over you when your weekend in ending and your start thinking about going to work tomorrow morning. Know the feeling? Too many people do.
LinkedIn did a survey in 2018 and found that 80% of professionals start feeling anxiety about the work week on Sundays. Similarly, a study by The Sleep Judge found that these Sunday feelings can manifest as worry, depressive symptoms, difficulty sleeping, and even psychosomatics symptoms like headaches and nausea. And while the ending of the weekend might always be a little bit of a bummer, people who enjoy their jobs don’t have quite the same angst on Sunday nights.
Whether you are looking to make a career shift to eradicate those Sunday night blues or you simply want to be more intentional about creating more positive feelings about your current work, we’ll be discussing some strategies. As you may recall from last week’s post, PERMA fosters workplace wellbeing. This week, we are focusing on the P of PERMA – creating Positive Emotions about work.
To foster positive emotions (P), begin by asking yourself some questions:
Once you have your responses, jump into action with your first steps. Although your actions will be customized to your needs and your responses to the above questions, there are some things we all can do to help create positive emotions about our work.
1. Maintain healthy physical self-care. This includes getting enough sleep, eat nutritiously and judiciously, getting some physical activity (including work breaks to take a walk around the office building, home office, or outdoors), and using your sick days if you’re sick. We often don’t give enough credence to the impact that taking care of our physical wellbeing has on our emotional and mental wellbeing. They really do go hand in hand. When we take care of our physical wellbeing, we are more refreshed mentally and emotionally to tackle our work projects.
2. Squash negative thinking patterns and replace them with positive ones. In essence, stop crap talking yourself. Speak affirmatively, positively, hopefully, and resiliently to yourself instead. I call this RESCRIPTing. This means:
3. Create better work life balance/time outside of work. Our work is a pretty big chunk of our identity, but it most certainly is not our entire identity. Too much of the time, however, we treat it like it is. We need to nurture all of who we are. Create a personal development plan with goals/desires for other areas of your life outside of work (relationships, financial, living environment, community engagement, physical health, emotional/mental health, intellectual growth, recreation/relaxation, spirituality). When feasible, talk to your boss about creating a flexible schedule that incorporates modified hours or remote working time. Decide a time of day you’ll shut down work on evenings/weekends to do enjoyable things that recharge you. Use your vacation days and spend them doing the things you love with people you love. We talk a lot about creating balance, but often put off the things that would create that balance. There’s never a perfect time free of a project that needs doing. Now is the right time.
4. Create a positive physical work environment. Whether at home or at work, your physical space influences your mental and emotional wellbeing. A cluttered space becomes a cluttered mind. Organize and declutter your office space. Decorate your space in your style. Put up inspiring quotes to motivate you. Make sure that what you see in your workspace inspires a positive mindset and positive emotions.
5. Only make commitments you can keep. It’s easy to become a people pleaser anywhere in life, including at work. We don’t want to let our boss or colleagues down. We worry about people’s opinions of our work ethic. We end up saying yes to projects, committees, and other work commitments that don’t serve our future or our now. Then, we feel overwhelmed and resentful. Don't volunteer for additional work tasks if you don't have time and/or that doesn’t serve your career growth. Create and maintain professional and personal boundaries at work. Remember, when you say “Yes” to too much, it ultimately leads to overwhelm and unhappiness.
6. Keep your mind refreshed. We often push ourselves through work projects when we know we’re exhausted and having a deep difficulty focusing. We tell ourselves, “Just keep going. You gotta get this done. You can rest when you’re finished.” However, the time we spend working in that exhausted frame of mind often produces mediocre work quality. If we just give ourselves some short refresher breakers, we could quickly get back to our work with an awake and focused mind that produces our best. Take some music breaks. Listen to a song you love that gets you pumped. Take brief brain breaks, including resting your eyes for 20 minutes, or meditating, or doing a breathing exercise. Or, laugh! Watch a funny video. Giving your mind brief refreshers during throughout your day can go a long way in keeping the positive feelings flowing and keeping the negative emotions at bay.
7. Do work that engages your strengths and passions. We’ll talk about amplifying work Engagement in depth in next week’s post! Stay tuned!
The Sunday Night Blues are beatable, but it requires regular maintenance. It's not just about what you do on your weekend that matters (although, as I mentioned, doing things you enjoy on the weekends certainly helps!). It's about regularly nurturing your work-related joy, so that work feels good on the regular, thus Sundays ain't so bad at all.
Want to really immerse yourself in creating career happiness in your life? Check out my Creating Career Happiness Course!
As a life and career coach, many clients reach out to me because they’ve been pretty unhappy in their careers for a long time (5 years, 10, 20 or more even) and now they’re contemplating making a career change. Everyone’s reasons for why now feels like the right time differs. Sometimes a major life event like a serious illness or loss makes you realize life is too short to be miserable 40+ hours a week, or a new relationship or child shifts your priorities and you want more career joy and balance, or maybe you’ve recently been talking with someone who really loves their work and it makes you realize career joy is a real attainable thing.
Whatever the reasons are, when you make a decision to RESCRIPT your career, it can be both exciting and terrifying. So much possibility, hope, and anticipation. So many unknowns and what ifs. The path from where you are in your career to where you want to be will take assessing, exploration, strategizing, and commitment, but when you ask anyone who’s done it, they’ll tell you its worth every step in the process.
The way we make career choices is often heavily influenced by authority figures (parents, teachers), our limited knowledge of what titles exist and carry earning potential, required education (and the time and cost associated), as well as what our connections have access to (when your cousin tells you about a job opening she can hook you up with at her company). These methods don’t always lead to a great fit or genuine career happiness. And the statistics out there support that we need more in depth career decision making practices, because these ones aren’t working so well.
How do you really know if it’s time for a career change? What if what you really need is a new job at a new company? Or just to find ways to boost your career joy where you are? Here’s a model you can use to assess what you might need:
When it might be time to leave your current career and explore a new career path:
When it might be time to leave your job/company:
When it might be time to start creating more career joy where you are:
So, what does actually facilitate career wellbeing? Positive psychologists developed a model of overall wellbeing that turns out to translate really well into workplace wellbeing too. This model is called PERMA and it stands for:
P – Positive Emotions: Experiencing and sharing positive emotions such as joy, peace, gratitude, satisfaction, inspiration, hope, optimism, and curiosity in the workplace.
E – Engagement: Becoming fully immersed in work tasks and projects that leverage your strengths and passions, both individually and as a team.
R – Relationships: Creating deeper connections with colleagues, supervisors, and supervisees. Meaningfully collaborating and supporting and caring for one another as team members and as human beings.
M – Meaning: Seeing and experiencing the connection of your work to a greater mission and purpose that makes a positive difference for colleagues, the organization, and those the organization serves.
A – Achievement: Experiencing a sense of accomplishment in completing tasks and projects that help to achieve short- and long-term individual, team, and larger organizational goals.
This sounds great right? So, how can you get the PERMA career hookup? The good news is there are plenty of actions you can begin taking right now to infuse more PERMA into your current job or career, as well as approaches you can engage in to explore and pursue career paths that are a great fit for you. I’ll be writing about each of these strategies in a series of weekly blog posts.
For this week, I suggest starting by conducting company research. Most people leave jobs because of other people (challenging bosses, colleagues) or the overall culture of the organization. Decide what you value in a company and workplace and do your due diligence to research which companies fit what you are looking for. Here are some places to begin the company research process:
In the next blog post, I’m going to talk about creating Positive Emotions related to your job and career. Stay tuned!
Want to really immerse yourself in creating career happiness in your life? Check out my Creating Career Happiness Course!
I guess now is as good a time as any to relaunch a blog, ya know, amidst a global pandemic. I had a blog in 2015, but I burnt myself out with my own unrealistic expectations about creating content for it. This time, the posts will happen when inspiration strikes, no silly self-pressures. Besides, we got bigger stuff happening right now, don't we.
When the big stuff in life happens, it sure puts things in perspective. It brings us back to just trying to maintain our most basic needs, like our physiological well-being, safety, and a sense of connectedness. This pandemic has us feeling much less in control and we don't like that.
Amidst unknowns, fear sets in, and we find our minds fixating on worries, regrets, self-criticism, incessant analysis, or frustration with others or life overall. Progressively, this mind poison makes us feel worse and worse. All in all, our own minds can be just as much an enemy as the things happening externally.
Here's the deal, there's things happening right now that we don't control and those things suck. Some people are sick, some have lost loved ones, some have lost jobs/income/resources. For others, this situation exacerbates underlying anxiety or depression, or pre-existing life challenges. And for all of us, this pandemic has totally disrupted our sense of normalcy and safety. These are the things we don't control. And we must give ourselves time to process and mourn these losses.
Even in the toughest situations though, there are some things we do control. As we face this pandemic, we gotta work harder than ever to focus our energy on what can do versus what we can't. Here's some things we can do to manage our own well-being and that of others:
1. Share & Feel Your Feelings: We are gonna not be okay at times during this difficult situation. We will feel sad, angry, and anxious sometimes. Let yourself feel. Talk with people you love and trust about it. But, decide to not stay in the painful emotions for longer than what offers you release.
2. Stay Connected: We may not be able to physically be with many of the people we love right now, but we must stay connected to people online and by phone. Connection is key to well-being. Call, text, email, video chat, and social media chat with people regularly. And if you live with others, be with them, really be with them. Talk, laugh, engage, and be present.
3. Intentionally Look for the Good: It's easy to get emotionally sucked into all the scary news stories. We need to pay at least equal attention to the good ones, the stories about people who are helping. Seek those stories out. Focus your thoughts on them. It's truly beautiful the ways people are nurturing one another right now. Also, contemplate the good people, experiences, and resources you have in your life, as well as personal accomplishments (small ones included, like finally folding your laundry!). Focus on feeling grateful for what you have, as its easy to allow ourselves to look more heavily on what we don’t have right now.
4. Use Your Unique Gifts to Do Good: We all have strengths and skills to offer others right now. What are yours? How do you want to support others through this time of challenge? Offer your gifts to help any way you can. There are people who need the things that you can offer.
5. Demonstrate Compassion & Forgiveness: Yes, some folks bought out the toilet paper. I can't get my hands on any new rolls of toilet paper either. But ya know what, we all react differently to fear and fear sure doesn't make us our best selves. None of us are without flaws or imperfect choices. We gotta try to understand that fear can make us do less rational things. Most importantly, we really gotta just love each other and come together the best we can right now.
6. Be Self-Compassionate: Maybe you can't figure out how the heck to submit your kids' schoolwork online, or you just yelled at them about how they don't know how to submit their schoolwork, or maybe you just feel overwhelmed and under-prepared to be managing all the changes you are facing right now. It's okay. None of us know how to do this. We are flying by the seat of our pants every minute. Be kind to yourself. You're trying, that's what matters.
7. Ask for Help: If you need something, information you don't have, if you are in an unsafe situation, if you are without resources you need to get by, ask for support. Sometimes asking for help is tough. We can be proud, uncomfortable, or afraid of rejection. Do it anyway. Even if you don't find what you need on the first try. There's lots of good humans and other resources out there to help us get through this. We need social solidarity right now.
8. Redefine Productivity: There's still plenty of things we have to do--work projects, school projects, applying for jobs, making phone calls, cleaning, etc. Create time in your day to address these tasks. But, make time for relaxing and fun activities. They are productive too because they recharge us. And, make time for planning, creating, and passion projects you can do from home that maybe you didn't have time for before. We need positive things to look forward to and concentrate our energy on.
9. Laugh, Sing, Dance, Be Silly, & Be in Nature: Laughter lets us lighten up the tension of a serious situation and let off some stress. Singing, dancing, and silliness lets us have joy amidst struggle. We need it right now. We deserve it. And, we are allowed to go outside, thank God. So, enjoy the breeze, sunshine, birds, and other animals. They heal. Savor them.
10. Affirm Your Ability to Handle the Unknown: When we don't know the outcome, we often conjure an awful outcome. Choose instead to embrace that unknown doesn't equal awful. And you're way more capable than you may sometimes give yourself credit for to handle a challenging situation. You've likely come through difficult situations before. You'll do it again. Tell yourself why you rock, are gonna make the best of this crazy situation, and how you so got this! We just gotta roll with the changes and challenges and not attempt to control that which we do not.
And, of course, wash your hands and stay home ;-)
Sending you love. We’re in this together <3
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