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Health & Fitness

7 tips for staying positive in a changing workplace

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Today's workplace is changing, and most employers expect employees to change right along with the fast-moving marketplace.

Everywhere you look in today's tight economy, it seems budget cuts are impacting personnel in the workforce.  As a result, employees may have to adjust to a new boss, downsizing, shifting expectations or a new way of doing things – all of which can generate stress and lead to poor performance.  But all is not lost.

Positive thinking, approaching the unpleasantness in a more productive way and believing the best will happen can help reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your thoughts are mostly negative, your outlook will likely be gloomy as well. So, here are seven tips to keep you thinking positive and help you manage stress in the face of change:

1. Know your philosophy. Have a belief system -- something greater than you that helps guide your path -- and reference it before and after work to be your best every day.

2. Give thanks often. Be grateful for having the strength to adapt to unpredictable circumstances. Resistance to change is one of the biggest challenges to successful job performance. Give yourself a pat on the back for making adjustments.

3. Embrace change. Remind yourself that change is inevitable and the sooner you adapt, the more productive you will be. Flexibility is a key to success in today's marketplace.

4. Use positive self-talk. Repeat your own personal mantra -- such as "Go with the flow" or "I am taking it to another level!" -- to sustain high spirits, instead of replaying the negative thoughts in your mind.

5. Build a support network and use it. Find a few acquaintances or friends to talk with who can lift your spirits when you're feeling down. Establishing a support network (maybe several different people in various areas of your workplace) can help reinforce that people care about you. Listening and offering support to others has a way of eliciting positive feelings in you, as well as in those you encourage.

6. Remember the big picture. Recall the strengths that got you to your current position. Despite uncertainty in the work environment, stay focused on accomplishing your ultimate goals. Look past distractions and disruptions, no matter how policies and personnel change.

7. Be approachable. Expect that things will change and remain open-minded whatever the circumstances, even to those bosses or co-workers who frustrate you. You may not know what difficulties others are experiencing to make them cranky or rude, so don't take it personally. Taking challenges in stride and empathizing with others can go a long way toward helping them, and yourself, feel better.

Thinking positive is an active and ongoing process. Surround yourself with positive messages (e.g. framed positive signs or pictures in your office), engage everyone and compliment others.

Practice some or all of these tips daily and a more enjoyable work experience is just around the corner – or rather the two corners of your smile.


Brenda Curtwright, PhD, is an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

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