Work Life Balance

How to Stay Sane When Work Is Insane

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Lets face it:  sometimes work can be downright insane!  Whether it is crazy long hours, working night shift, or getting stuck with a bunch of coworkers who don't get along, it can really stress our nerves.  We all know the negative effects of stress on our mental and physical health.  It is up to us to manage the stress, and not let the insane workplace drive us insane!

I believe maintaining positivity is a key element to leading a happy, healthy life, and managing workplace stress.  Being positive is a state of mind.  It goes hand in hand with having gratitude for all that we have.  Having a positive mind-set doesn't happen automatically.  It is something we all have to work at!  

This means retraining our minds to note the happy moments in the day-to-day instead of the downsides, to a point that it becomes natural for us to be upbeat and stop sweating the small stuff.  It takes practice.  Even when we get to a point that we feel our mental game is strong, there are always outside forces testing that.  Keep in mind that things only affect you how you allow them to affect you.

Lets say you have 86,400 dollars. Someone comes in and rips up 600 dollars of that; understanding how angry you might be, would you be so angry to say the rest of that money is ruined, and throw it out? Absolutely not.

Apply that same logic to your day, which has 86,400 seconds in it.  Why on earth would you allow the entirety of your day be affected by ten minutes of someone else's negativity and bad attitude? That doesn't make any sense at all.  Leave them to their negativity, and go about your day. 


Maintaining this in our personal lives is one thing, but for me, maintaining this in the workplace is something else.  It can be extra challenging at times, although the same strategies apply.  The difference lies entirely in control of the external environment.  In our personal lives we create our environment, choosing everything from our living space to the people we surround ourselves with.  In a work setting that is obviously not the case.  Just because we don't control the external environment does NOT mean we can't control our reactions to it.  

There are lots of situations where we are tested and tried at work.  We may feel a supervisor has made a bad decision.  We may get stuck with someone who does not appear to pull their weight.  We may have to work a job, or an assignment, that we really don't enjoy.  All of those things can really bring our attitude down, but only if we allow them to.  

I have found some rules for keeping my positive attitude at work, and staying sane, that really work.  By the way, they are not really my rules.  They are really principles backed by years of research and numerous experts, some who are referenced at the bottom of the article.  I apply these principles in my work life, and they really do make a difference. They will help you as well, if you apply them.

Principle # 1, and my #1 rule:  DO NOT COMPLAIN.

Believe me, I understand the temptation, especially when some messed up stuff is going on around you.  Sometimes it feels good to complain.  Just don't do it!  It will only aid in keeping you in a negative state of mind.  Complaining  keeps whatever it is that is annoying you, on your mind.  Every time you complain about something you perceive as a problem, you keep your attention focused on the bad aspects, and keep yourself feeling upset, you keep stirring it up, over and over again.  If you are complaining to other people, then you are pulling them into a negative state of mind as well.  Complaining will make your day a big cesspool of negative feelings!

Principle #2:  Avoid the negativity, and redirect.

Avoiding negativity is obvious: just don't partake! It is the flip-side of principle #1.  When you come across people complaining, don't stop to join in. Don't ask them whats wrong, just straight up avoid it. More often than not however, the negativity will be brought right to your front steps: for example, when the workplace gossip comes to tell you "what they heard someone said about you," or someone comes to furiously complain "how stupid that decision corporate made is."  This is when I hit them with a solid "I don't care" and walk away. Misery loves company: people wallowing in it want you to wallow too.  Don't get sucked in!

However, walking away isn't always an option.  That is when redirecting comes in.   When I am stuck next to someone complaining, I let them finish, while not actually absorbing what is being said. I give a little quip like, "yea that sucks," or "mmm I'm sorry."   Then I use that small gap to quickly change the subject to something that I know makes them happy: "Hey, how are your kids?"... "Hey man I heard you went on vacation! How was it"... "Man you have got to try taco king, you will love their nachos"... You know at least a little something about most people in your workplace, even if all you know is that they have kids. That alone is enough to have them exuding positivity in a matter of seconds.  The often completely forgetting what they were complaining about and are smiling from ear to ear, talking about what their kids did that week.

 Rule # 3:  Nothing is personal, so don't take it that way.

When bad decisions are made, or something wrong happens, 99% of the time, it has nothing to do with you.  You are the only one who is thinking about you all the time!  When the supervisor tells you to do something you don't like, there could be several reasons why.  You could be the first person they saw.  You could be the fastest person for that job.  You could be the junior person.  It could just be that your name was in their head for some silly reason, like you told them a joke that made them laugh that day.  The odds are though, that they didn't think "hey, I am going to put Joe there because I  know he hates it."  Don't let it ruin your whole work day by thinking they are out to get you.  

Also, everyone is dealing with their own stuff, all the time.  When a co-worker looks angry, or isn't friendly, more than likely, it is because of their stuff, and has nothing to do with you.  It could be anything.  Maybe they are not feeling well.  Maybe their child is at home not feeling well.  Maybe they had a bad dream that upset them.  Maybe they had an argument with someone.  Maybe it is a date that brings up bad memories for them.  There are a million things other people have piled up in their stuff that influences how they behave throughout the day.  Don't walk around wondering what you did wrong, feeling negative, because you probably didn't do anything.


Principle # 4:  Recognize the little things.

One of the biggest things for me is making it a point to recognize the little things.  It can be anything from how beautiful the sunshine was coming into work, to the funny things someone said.  It could be a positive quote on the back of a shirt you happened to notice, or a kind word from a complete stranger that made your soul smile. Notice it all.  Breathe it in. Hold onto it throughout your day, and recall those thoughts when your being presented with negativity. And if you can't find the beauty, find the humor in everything.  If one co-worker complains about another, and their actions, or calls them stupid, I'm just like 'hey that's them' and find a way to laugh about it.

Principle # 5:  Spread your positive attitude

Like negativity, positivity can be contagious!  Spreading positivity to others is not always easy, and not everyone will buy in.  But when I can do it, it truly helps to keep me in the same state of mind. I often walk into work pumping myself up the whole time, saying "today is gonna be awesome!"..."get in here, make this money, and go home!!" Giving that speech to coworkers, or an over enthusiastic "Hello!" can really start the positive attitude spreading.   Getting a few friends to walk around shouting "HAPPY MONDAY!" (or whatever day of the week) to one another, or to tell each other we are about to knock this out, and that today is gonna be a good day, puts a smile on all of our faces.  Smiles are infectious, and sometimes that's all you need. 


Unexpected motivation at work. Courtesy of my coworker Mendy
Principle # 6:  Always remember, this is your job, not your life!  

Your job is your means to lead the life you choose.  Sometimes, for me, it is something as simple as reminding myself how grateful I am for that; that I have a means to live my life in the manner that I choose.   Not everyone has that, and it is definitely a reason to be positive! 

With that said, keep your outside life as enriching as possible. This is what Gypsy With a Day Job, and my personal Facebook page, Be elevated, are all about!  Learn, grow, do the things you love; doing this makes managing work insanity all the easier, and gives your life balance. For us, travel is a driving force.  For you, it might be gardening, or painting, writing, music;  there are a million options.  Doing the things you love outside of work relieves the stress of work, and allows you to see the value in your job, even when you are not passionate about the job in itself. The things you enjoy doing with your life are really why you work, and that should serve as a great motivator!

In Conclusion

Just six practices can change your how you cope with the environment at work, even when it seems insane.  You can't control the environment, but you can control your reaction to it!

Don't complain

Avoid and Redirect

Nothing is Personal

Recognize Little Joys

Spread Positive Attitude

Remember, its Your Job, Not Your Life

The six practices rules above have really worked for me.  I am a better person because of them.  I manage work stress better, and that I maintain a much more balanced life.  I hope that you can utilize what I have outlined here, and I hope that it helps you to find peace in your day-to-day.  

There are many people I follow as mentors for thing such as life, business, and positivity.  If you want more insight, or details for putting these practices in action in your life, check out their websites.  

A couple great people for positivity are Bob Proctor:

and Tony Robbins: .



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