Posted on Apr 10th, 2006

The politics of any work environment can be a challenge from time to time. Most of it is due to stress in the workplace. The higher the stress, the higher the incidence of stress related behaviours or illnesses.

We work in environments where expectations and rules change at an alarming rate. Technology has apparently brought progress, but at what price? A financial institution in major city requires their employees to take distance ed courses at night, after a long day at work. Some of these employees having been with the company for decades, are now in their late 50’s, but are expected to add to their days work and to their stress level. They are required to take three or four of these courses in the next four years. If they don’t, they could lose their jobs.

Have you looked for work recently? Even for the lowest paying job the interview process can be quite silly. At a well known coffee chain they do two or even three interviews with one person.

For some bizarre reason resume formats keep changing and there are people with four year degrees, hired by the Government teaching the most basic skill of resume writing. We have taken something that should be straight forward and we have made it complicated.

Another phenomenon is occurring. People are so geared to working alone at their computers, that we are losing the ability to communicate effectively with one another. We are not only working in our own head space, but in our own physical space as well. I believe the term is cocooning.

There is a new phrase out there these days. It is called “self care”. In former times, we didn’t have to think about this. It just happened naturally as we came home from work. We would visit with our family, maybe play some physical games with the kids, walk the family dog, take a short nap or read a book. It was called relaxation and it was assumed we could all do this. Now, with computers and televisions we are not without this isolating technology in many rooms of our homes. So, we not only cocoon at work, we come home and continue to do so for the evening as well.

We don’t laugh as much now as we did in the 1950’s. We used to laugh for 20 minutes each day and now we are lucky to squeeze in 6 minutes of daily joy. In our quest for success and at the expense of our happiness, we have foolishly changed attitudes and become extremely serious in all aspects of our lives. Simply put, we have forgotten how to play and have fun. Despite this, our minds and our bodies are wise beyond our comprehension and this fact is now being proven on a scientific level. If we choose to laugh more and be more joyful, our bodies response is immediate as blood vessels open up, blood pressure drops, pain lessens and we feel happier. Amazingly and quite wonderfully, we are still in control of how we choose to work and to play. Help yourself and make smart choices for your life. If you need some suggestions about self care activities, visit my webpage and click on the tab that says “Laughter Facts” – then scroll to the right.

Laugh, smile at everyone you come in contact with and inject some play into every day. It will make a huge difference in your quality of life and will help to alleviate the effects of stress. That’s a promise.

Carole Fawcett is a Canadian Stress Management expert and a Laughter Therapist. Her joyful energy is contagious and she is passionate about what she does. She is also teaches therapeutic hospital clowns and is a published free lance writer. See her website at http://www.afunnybusiness.ca

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