The average person works an eight hour day and sleeps an eight hour night. Including holidays and weekends that means that we are in our workplace for a quarter of our working lives and if you're working from 25 to 65 that's ten years worth of working hours in a job you either love hate or are indifferent to. That's a lot of time so it's important to ask ourselves are we really enjoying what we do.
A lot of factors can affect the enjoyment of our work and one of these is getting the appropriate work life balance. For most of us work provides a structure to our day, an opportunity to socialise and our accomplishments at work can provide a sense of achievement. For others work is just the necessary part of the juggling act between family, home, friends, hobbies and social life.
A certain amount of stress is good and is required for us all to perform well and everyone would admit to feeling stressed at work on occasions, but very few people perhaps are aware of just how stressed they are. The impact of stress can often be cloaked in other symptoms, for example, physical ailments. If you have trouble sleeping, feel run down, eat irregularly or have lost a lot of your enjoyment in recent times, the chances are that you could be suffering from work related stress.
Another factor is that with work comes work relationships and the potential for conflict which can in turn cause stress. How we communicate has a large part to play in conflict. A recent study showed that good communication depends just 7% on the words we use, 40% on our voice and 53% on our body language. That's quite sobering considering most preparation and thought goes into the words we use and very little if none at all into the voice we use or our body language.
So what can we do to make work life better? Try to be more aware of your work environment. The more we invest in anything the more we get out of it. Try to be more aware of how you are communicating with your work colleagues and the people you are dealing with. Focus more on tone of voice and body language. Recognise when work is getting too much and is affecting the other parts of your life and look for help. Many large companies today have HR departments with staff trained in dealing with work stress. More and more employers are recognising stress as a factor in the work life balance and have teamed up with EAPs (employee assistance programmes) to offer free counselling sessions to their employees. If your company doesn't provide either of these most private counsellors are trained in working with work related stress issues. Don't be afraid to reach out.