Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

Is work-life balance possible? At this time of year?

A 2018 study by the National Institute of Health suggests that even small daily stress factors can lead to health problems later in life.

And according to the American Psychological Association, this is compounded by the number one contributor to stress, JOB PRESSURE, caused by; tension with co-workers, bosses, and an overload of work.

Being number one isn’t always a good thing!

This predicament is further compounded by:

  • Longer working hours
  • Higher workloads
  • Shorter deadlines
  • Increased expectations

These have all been shown to contribute to the rise in workplace anxiety and pressure. Yet everyone responds differently to stress depending on his or her personality, social circumstances, and past experiences, which is why there are a variety of methods that each one of us can use, depending on the event and situation to alleviate stress.

Cultivate Awareness

Thinking about your own place of work:

  • What is your relationship with co-workers and senior managers?
  • When is your company’s busiest time of year?
  • How do you react to different stressors and do you know how to identify triggers?

Knowing what generates a negative feeling within yourself to work-related activities is the first step in changing your response. Donald Hebb, a Canadian neuropsychologist specializing in associative learning coined the phrase “neurons that fire together, wire together” in 1949. You can rewire your thought patterns and react differently to various stressors that would otherwise initiate a frenzy of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Awareness of your reactions is therefore key at creating a positive shift in how you think and then consciously act, instead of instinctively and emotionally reacting.

A New Path to Positivity

In the same way that a new path is forged in a forest when it is walked on repeatedly, new neural pathways are formed and “wire together” when you consciously decide that you are going to choose a specific way of thinking and acting. There are a few items that you can add to assist you on your path to positivity:

  1. When you sense that you are under pressure and feeling stressed, take a twenty-minute break. Remove yourself from a negative environment and go for a walk, talk to a friendly co-worker, or call a friend.
  2. Surround yourself with a core group of positive like-minded people (at work and in your personal life) where you can support each other by offering encouraging and optimistic support.
  3. Stay connected to your values and who you are as an individual. Show your optimistic attitude.

When you catch yourself in negative self-talk, remember your forest path and keep forging ahead.

Who Sustains You?

If you want to thrive, rather than survive, your thoughts and actions are only a part of the big picture. You are also defined by who you surround yourself with on a regular basis.

Take a look at your own life.

  • Who sustains you?
  • Who provides you with love, laughter, and support?
  • Who drains you and brings you down?
  • Who makes you feel glad because you are in their presence?

In Part Two, I’ll take a closer look at the key principles of stress management and offer evidence-based tips to apply from January onwards both at work and home to reduce stress and eliminate burnout.


  • Margaret Stockley

    Workplace Wellness Consultant and Trainer

    Margaret Stockley is the CEO of the online workplace wellness training company POWCERT and the Aspire2 Wellness Consulting Group. She is also the author of numerous books including “Transforming Workplace Wellness,” "Stress Management at Work," and the #1 new release "101 Workplace Wellness Ideas."