It has been a tough 18 months. Well, that is an understatement if I have ever heard one. 2020 was brutal! The pandemic knocked us to the ground, rolled us over, and gave us a spanking. I won't go over all the challenges because I highly doubt there was even one of you who didn't immediately nod their head in agreement when you read this article's title. We all have a story to tell, some more heartbreaking than others. However, it's a new year, and things are beginning to look up; summer is here, and the vaccine has rolled out worldwide. In Canada, provinces are lifting restrictions, and companies are re-grouping as the world tries to get back to some form of ordinary. One positive thing of note is that there is still a considerable emphasis on our mental health in the workplace.
I can't help but think about the relationship between our self-talk and our mental well-being, especially at work. Let's clarify what I mean by self-talk. Psychology Today Canada states that "self-talk, combining conscious thoughts and unconscious beliefs and biases, provides a way for the brain to interpret and process daily experiences." Another way to look at it, it's the stuff we tell ourselves automatically and often before we can stop ourselves. Sometimes we may not even be aware of what it is we are saying to ourselves. Does anyone else see a problem with that? With the inherent stresses found in the workplace today, does your self-talk support you or work against you? If you think negative self-talk has the upper hand, then here are a few simple ways to combat that when you find it happening:
Take a few calming breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Next, isolate the thought.
Change the thought to something positive.
I know this sounds too easy to make a difference. However, positive self-talk has proven benefits for overall health and happiness. You may not notice a difference overnight, but it is worth the effort, and over time can affect real change for you, especially at work.
Here are a couple of examples to which you may relate:
No one cares about my opinion, so why bother to give it?
I have an idea, and my voice matters.
I haven't a clue what's going on, as usual.
I need clarity on this, and that's ok. Asking questions shows I care.
This exercise may feel cumbersome at first, but it is one way to start managing your work well-being and change your negative self-talk.
If you are curious about how much your self-talk affects your work well-being, take this short poll. It's a quick way to get to know yourself a little more and determine your work well-being.
On a scale of 1-10, one is hardly ever, and ten being all the time.
- How often do you find yourself feeling anxious or stressed in the workplace?
- When feeling anxious or stressed at work, do you typically feel better by the end of the workday?
- When feeling anxious or stressed at work, do you take time to understand why?
- Does your understanding of why you are feeling anxious or stressed include looking at self-talk?
- How often have you tried to change your self-talk?
The bottom line is that our self-talk matters, and so you do. If you don't like what you are saying, change it, especially if you find it affecting your work.