Stressed at Work? Reflect on the Positive

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Feeling the pinch of work stress in the evening? Before heading home for the night, take a moment to savor the day’s wins.

Research from the Academy of Management Journal shows that workers reported lower stress levels in the evenings after spending a few minutes jotting down positive events at the end of the day, along with why those things made them feel good.

The study tracked a group of workers over 15 days, logging their blood pressure and reported stress symptoms, such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating and headaches. The researchers observed changes as the workers wrote down their accomplishments.

It’s no surprise that positive thinking can ease tension. But it might prove more practical than employers’ current approaches for fighting workplace stress, such as offering flexible work arrangements or creating a new organizational chart that doesn’t actually change daily life at the office, says Theresa Glomb, a work and organizations professor at University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and co-author of the report.

Listing the good things that happened during the day is valuable in its  own right, but Ms. Glomb says the real impact comes from writing down why those things led to good feelings. That act highlights the resources and support a person has in his or her work life — such as skills, a good sense of humor, an encouraging family, or a compassionate boss.

The reflections don’t have to be work-related, she adds, a tasty lunch brought from home can be a workday accomplishment. In the experiment, about 40% of the end-of-day reflections had nothing to do with work, and reflecting on them still made the subjects calmer later that evening.

Source: The Wall Street Journal