33 high-paying jobs for people who don’t like stress

biomedical engineer
Biomedical engineers are well-compensated while tending to work in low-stress environments.

  • There are many jobs that are both well-paid and offer a relaxing work environment.
  • We looked at jobs that pay at least $75,000 annually and that have a relatively low-stress work situation.
  • Here are those jobs ranked from most to least stressful, and by average annual wages in the case of a tie.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
33. Technical writers

mechanics reading manual

Importance of stress tolerance: 69

Average annual salary: $78,590

What they do, according to O*NET: Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work.

32. Environmental scientists and specialists

enviromental scientist

Importance of stress tolerance: 69

Average annual salary: $80,090

What they do, according to O*NET: Conduct research or perform investigations for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or the health of the population.

31. Financial examiners

financial planner

Importance of stress tolerance: 69

Average annual salary: $92,730

What they do, according to O*NET: Enforce or ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing financial and securities institutions and financial and real estate transactions.

30. Database architects

computer servers

Importance of stress tolerance: 69

Average annual salary: $101,090

What they do, according to O*NET: Design strategies for enterprise databases, data warehouse systems, and multidimensional networks.

29. Art directors

art director

Importance of stress tolerance: 69

Average annual salary: $114,490

What they do, according to O*NET: Formulate design concepts and presentation approaches for visual communications media, such as print, broadcasting, and advertising.

28. Ship engineers

marine engineer

Importance of stress tolerance: 68

Average annual salary: $81,110

What they do, according to O*NET: Supervise and coordinate activities of crew engaged in operating and maintaining engines, boilers, deck machinery, and electrical, sanitary, and refrigeration equipment aboard ships.

27. Postsecondary mathematical science teachers

professor

Importance of stress tolerance: 68

Average annual salary: $86,760

What they do, according to O*NET: Teach courses in math, statistics, and actuarial science.

26. Postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers

professor teaching

Importance of stress tolerance: 68

Average annual salary: $90,160

What they do, according to O*NET: Teach courses in philosophy, religion, and theology. 

25. Geoscientists

geologist

Importance of stress tolerance: 68

Average annual salary: $112,110

What they do, according to O*NET: Study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth.

24. Petroleum engineers

petrolum engineer

Importance of stress tolerance: 68

Average annual salary: $154,330

What they do, according to O*NET: Devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production and determine the need for new or modified tool designs.

23. Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes

sports agent

Importance of stress tolerance: 67

Average annual salary: $98,070

What they do, according to O*NET: Represent and promote artists, performers, and athletes in dealings with current or prospective employers.

22. Agricultural engineers

Agricultural engineer working in a greenhouse.

Importance of stress tolerance: 67

Average annual salary: $101,620

What they do, according to O*NET: Apply knowledge of engineering technology and biological science to agricultural problems.

21. Computer hardware engineers

Supercomputer Qualified IT specialist Danny Rotscher checks the operating system of the High Performance Computing and Storage Complex II (HRSK-II) during the official opening of the new data center of the Lehmann Center (LZR) of the Dresden University of Technology in Dresden, Germany, May 13, 2015.

Importance of stress tolerance: 67

Average annual salary: $126,140

What they do, according to O*NET: Research, design, develop, or test computer or computer-related equipment.

20. Orthodontists

dentist dental

Importance of stress tolerance: 67

Average annual salary: $237,990

What they do, according to O*NET: Examine, diagnose, and treat dental malocclusions and oral cavity anomalies.

19. Postsecondary education teachers

A professor teaching a class of students.

Importance of stress tolerance: 66

Average annual salary: $75,010

What they do, according to O*NET: Teach education courses.

18. Computer and information research scientists

computer programmer

Importance of stress tolerance: 66

Average annual salary: $130,890

What they do, according to O*NET: Conduct research into fundamental computer and information science as theorists, designers, or inventors. Develop solutions to problems in the field of computer hardware and software.

17. Postsecondary geography teachers

geography map

Importance of stress tolerance: 65

Average annual salary: $87,160

What they do, according to O*NET: Teach courses in geography.

16. Environmental engineers

environmental engineers

Importance of stress tolerance: 65

Average annual salary: $96,890

What they do, according to O*NET: Research, design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental hazards using various engineering disciplines.

15. Epidemiologists

epidemiologist

Importance of stress tolerance: 64

Average annual salary: $83,620

What they do, according to O*NET: Investigate and describe the determinants and distribution of disease, disability, or health outcomes.

14. Statisticians

data chart on tablet

Importance of stress tolerance: 64

Average annual salary: $97,170

What they do, according to O*NET: Develop or apply mathematical or statistical theory and methods to collect, organize, interpret, and summarize numerical data to provide usable information.

13. Economists

economist

Importance of stress tolerance: 64

Average annual salary: $120,880

What they do, according to O*NET: Conduct research, prepare reports, or formulate plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy.

12. Bioengineers and biomedical engineers

biomedical engineer
Biomedical engineers are well-compensated while tending to work in low-stress environments.

Importance of stress tolerance: 63

Average annual salary: $98,340

What they do, according to O*NET: Apply knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, and evaluation of biological and health systems and products.

11. Postsecondary economics teachers

Paul Krugman Business Insider

Importance of stress tolerance: 63

Average annual salary: $123,720

What they do, according to O*NET: Teach courses in economics.

10. Food scientists and technologists

food scientist studying basil

Importance of stress tolerance: 62

Average annual salary: $80,190

What they do, according to O*NET: Use chemistry, microbiology, engineering, and other sciences to study the principles underlying the processing and deterioration of foods; analyze food content to determine levels of vitamins, fat, sugar, and protein, among other research.

9. Hydrologists

hydrologist

Importance of stress tolerance: 62

Average annual salary: $90,150

What they do, according to O*NET: Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters.

8. Materials scientists

materials scientists

Importance of stress tolerance: 62

Average annual salary: $104,450

What they do, according to O*NET: Research and study the structures and chemical properties of various natural and synthetic or composite materials.

7. Physicists

Physicists

Importance of stress tolerance: 62

Average annual salary: $137,700

What they do, according to O*NET: Conduct research into physical phenomena, develop theories on the basis of observation and experiments, and devise methods to apply physical laws and theories.

6. Commercial and industrial designers

A car designer working on a car design.

Importance of stress tolerance: 61

Average annual salary: $76,290

What they do, according to O*NET: Design and develop manufactured products, such as cars.

5. Operations research analysts

analyzing data

Importance of stress tolerance: 61

Average annual salary: $92,280

What they do, according to O*NET: Formulate and apply mathematical modeling and other optimizing methods to develop and interpret information that assists management with decision making, policy formulation, or other managerial functions.

4. Chemical engineers

Chemical engineer

Importance of stress tolerance: 61

Average annual salary: $114,820

What they do, according to O*NET: Design chemical plant equipment and devise processes for manufacturing chemicals and products.

3. Political scientists

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) administers the oath of office to House members and delegates of the U.S. House of Representatives at the start of the 116th Congress inside the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2019.

Importance of stress tolerance: 61

Average annual salary: $124,100

What they do, according to O*NET: Study the origin, development, and operation of political systems.

2. Geographers

A geographer at work.

Importance of stress tolerance: 59

Average annual salary: $85,620

What they do, according to O*NET: Study the nature and use of areas of the Earth’s surface, relating and interpreting interactions of physical and cultural phenomena.

1. Mathematicians

mathmetician

Importance of stress tolerance: 57

Average annual salary: $112,530

What they do, according to O*NET: Conduct research in fundamental mathematics or in application of mathematical techniques to science, management, and other fields.

Method and data source

The Department of Labor’s O*NET Online occupational database includes survey-based measurements of how important various skills, activities, and personal traits are for a particular job.

One of the characteristics measured is stress tolerance, which O*NET describes as jobs requiring “accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.”

O*NET scores job characteristics like stress tolerance on a scale from 0 to 100, where a 0 means stress tolerance is not at all necessary for an occupation, and 100 suggests a job with a very high-stress environment.

We ranked occupational groups from most to least stressful using O*NET’s stress tolerance score, with lower scores indicating less stressful jobs. Since we are interested in high-paying jobs, we looked at occupations with average annual salaries of at least $75,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics data for May 2020, the most recently available release.

The above jobs were ranked from most to least stressful. In the case of a tied stress tolerance score, we ranked by average annual wages.

Several of the jobs fell in academia, with postsecondary teachers in various fields and researchers in economics, statistics, mathematics, and materials science dominating the top of the list.

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 reasons why prioritizing yourself is the key to a healthy work-life balance

woman upward dog yoga
Pay attention to your stress levels and take a break when you need it.

  • Self-prioritization in goal setting, work, and productivity is key to achieving work-life balance.
  • You must schedule time to work on hobbies, do fun things, and rest in order to avoid burnout.
  • Don’t tie your identity to your job, and remember you’ll be the most productive when you’re content.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

You’ve received the standard advice about setting boundaries with the hours you work if you’re now (or have always) worked from home. You’ve read that you should focus on tasks more intentionally by using software that blocks social media and email notifications. You may have even experienced work-life balance for a while.

However, what’s missing from the conversation about work-life balance is the need for self-prioritization in goal setting, work, productivity and the desire to optimize one’s life. Here are three reasons why making yourself a priority is the key and foundation to achieving work-life balance.

Read more: I went through a divorce and months of unhappiness in my role before I hit my breaking point. Here’s how I put my life back together.

1. Burnout stems from a lack of excitement for what you’re pursuing

Do you wake up, look at your to-do list, and verbally cringe? Chances are, most of what you do each day is the same, and the routine is draining you mentally, and by extension, physically.

When you spend day in and day out grinding with no time allotted for fun and all the personal goals you’d like to accomplish – it leads to frustration, bitterness, and burnout. You aren’t excited to work, which diminishes your energy and motivation. The resulting burnout decreases productivity and amplifies excuses.

Work-life balance has to be about balance. But more than figuring out a schedule that works for you, you’ll need to incorporate plenty of “you time.” Your schedule should include moments when you work on hobbies, do fun things, and focus on personal optimization.

If you’re feeling stressed and mentally exhausted when you think about work and your goals, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself when was the last time you did something just for you? You’ll be more productive and develop the ability to work more intentionally when your life doesn’t feel like a burden.

2. The ‘work’ part of work-life balance can’t overtake your identity

When you’re good at what you do, it can be easy to let that become part of your identity. It’s not uncommon for someone who’s been the “boss” at a job or business to have readjustment challenges to changes in their work situation – millions of Americans experienced just that over the past year.

If you tie your identity to your work, you’ll lose balance when life circumstances become unpredictable. Work-life balance starts with you being secure in your non-work priorities and unattachment to circumstances you can’t control.

There are so many experiences of life and moments to be lived beyond work. Work helps you build the financial freedom to experience life, but don’t let it overtake the balance and tie your beliefs about yourself to circumstances that don’t have to define you.

3. You’ll get more done when you work from a place of being complete

Whether you realize it or not, you are the most significant project you’ll ever pursue. When you make your optimization a priority, you’ll be more productive. When you’re excited about life and the opportunity to work, you’ll reduce stress and burnout.

Start with making yourself the priority. Family, friends, coworkers, clients, and anyone else that demands your time and energy should see and respect your boundaries.

Spend time each day with one task, goal or fun experience that’s just for you. If you can do that at the start of your day, you’ll train your mind to understand that you’re the main priority. Do this over time, and you’ll wake up excited for what the day will hold.

As you build the self-prioritization muscle and develop healthy self-care habits, you’ll achieve a work-life balance more sustainably.

Read the original article on Business Insider

JOIN US MAY 24: A consultant who’s worked with the US Army will explain how to prevent and recover from burnout

paula davis
Paula Davis is the founder and CEO of the Stress and Resilience Institute.

Paula Davis calls herself a “recovering people-pleasing perfectionist achieve-aholic.” As a commercial real estate lawyer, she tried to exceed expectations in her incredibly demanding job. One day she wound up in the hospital for stress-induced stomach aches.

Today Davis is the founder and CEO of the Stress & Resilience Institute, where she helps redesign work cultures at the likes of Walgreens and Coca-Cola. She studied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and joined the university’s team that taught resilience skills to the US Army.

Davis’ new book, “Beating Burnout at Work,” arrives amid reports of burnout across industries, from consulting and law to finance, with a recent Microsoft survey finding that over half of workers worldwide said they felt overworked.

Join us Monday, May 24, at 11 a.m. EST/8 a.m. PST as Insider correspondent Shana Lebowitz interviews Davis live about tackling burnout head-on – both as a manager and as an employee.

We’ll discuss how the pandemic has made employers more willing to address burnout, the perils of having your identity wrapped up in your job, and why preventing burnout is about structural overhauls as well as microchanges, or tweaks to your workday that make it more fulfilling.

You can sign up here for our free event.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The average American utters 80 to 90 curse words every day. Here’s why it’s good for you.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Americans are cursing more today than ever before. In fact, the average American utters 80 to 90 curse words every day. That’s about five curse words every waking hour. And it might not be in vain. Turns out, swearing may help make you live a happier, healthier life in the long-run.

When you stub your toe and holler your favorite dirty, four-letter word, You’re actually doing yourself a favor. Swearing has been known to raise your heart rate, which can help reduce the pain. For example, one study found that people who held their hand in icy water while cursing lasted 50% longer than the people who used neutral words – like “wooden” and “flat.”

And if you’re still not convinced that you should curse more, consider this: Swearing could be the key to improving your workouts. Researchers asked people to curse while riding a stationary bike and holding a device that measured handgrip strength. Wouldn’t you know it, participants pedaled faster and gripped stronger while spewing their favorite expletives. And swearing won’t just help you get more fit, it can also reduce stress and anxiety.

For instance, one study found that swearing helped drivers better cope with their frustration on the road whenever a pedestrian illegally crossed the street. And in fact, this type of emotional relief is so common, it has a name: Lalochezia. Scientists think that this relief is one reason why we’ve evolved to curse in the first place.Because it’s a way for us to express strong emotions – like anger and frustration – without having to throw a punch or act out.

And this method – of choosing words over violence – has other benefits, too. Studies show that people who curse are perceived as more genuine and sincere. And researchers have found that people who can list the most swear words also come across as more honest when they’re measured on a lie scale.

But there’s still one place where cursing is almost always out of the question: Work. But you might have a good excuse to swear there too. Researchers studied a team of workers at a soap factory in New Zealand, and looked at the use of a particular swear word, we’ll call it “the f-word.”

Turns out that using “the f-word” helped the workers express politeness, alleviate tension, and bond with each other. So, we’re not saying you should curse out your boss, but a little swearing here and there can’t hurt, and sh-t, it may even help.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2018.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why you need to be aware of your implicit biases to support your colleagues during stressful times

stress migraine
To support our colleagues through stressful times, we have to leave bias at the door.

  • Gender bias – the tendency to associate certain traits more so with one gender – can creep into work.
  • Everyone should be aware of their own biases to create a climate of trust for colleagues experiencing stress.
  • Be mindful of others, and don’t assume a colleague’s stress is due to being in a marginalized group.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Let’s say your colleague shows up for your Zoom meeting crying. When you ask what’s wrong, they share that they’re having a tough time balancing the demands of work with three young children at home, caregiving for aging parents, and dealing with a spouse who travels constantly for work.

So, what does this colleague look like? Did you picture a woman?

If so, you’re not alone. Like so many of us, you may have some implicit gender bias about things like who’s more likely to cry at work, who takes care of young children, or who is a caregiver for aging parents.

Gender bias is the tendency to associate certain traits with one gender over another. Sometimes, this means favoring one gender over the other. And gender bias is just one of many biases that we need to be aware of – and work on – to support our colleagues during stressful times.

But let me start with some good news if you’re struggling with the assumptions you made: If you have a brain, you have bias. We tend to think of bias as a bad thing, but it isn’t always.

Read more: I went through a divorce and months of unhappiness in my role before I hit my breaking point. Here’s how I put my life back together.

Bias is a natural byproduct of the way our brains work. Biases help us categorize objects so that we can quickly determine what’s safe and what isn’t. Biases help us make decisions more easily so that we don’t have to tap into our cognitive bandwidth every time we decide something. A bias toward eating more vegetables and less dessert is a healthy bias, for example.

For most of us, starting at a young age, we start to discriminate between those who are like us – the “in group” – and those who are not like us – the “out group.” Recognizing our in group can help us develop our sense of identity, belonging, security, and safety – but it can also lead to harmful prejudices.

As researcher Jennifer Eberhardt explains in her book, “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do,” “at its root, bias is not an affliction that can be cured or banished. It’s a human condition that we have to understand and deal with.”

So, let’s look at some biases we should all be aware of, especially when creating a climate of openness and trust for our colleagues who are experiencing stress.

Be aware of discrimination and its effects

Chances are, you’re working with colleagues who are part of marginalized populations, which are groups that may experience discrimination because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions. Here are just a few:

  • LGBTQIA+ professionals
  • Senior citizens
  • Racial/cultural minorities
  • Military combat veterans
  • People with physical disabilities
  • People with mental illness, including substance abuse and other addiction disorders
  • People on the autism spectrum

Of course, your colleague doesn’t have to identify with one of these categories to be subject to discrimination. Perceived discrimination consistently has been shown to be associated with diminished mental health, and even the anticipation of discrimination can lead to higher stress levels. Constantly feeling on edge or unsure about how you’ll be treated can trigger a long-standing stress response.

Whether it’s related to ethnicity, sexual orientation, or beliefs, feeling undervalued and uncertain about the future directly impacts mental health now and in the future.

Learn about stereotypes and microaggressions

So what can we do about discrimination issues? We need to be mindful of our own stereotypes and microaggressions. Stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about a particular type of person or a group of people.

So, if you’re speaking with a woman about her stress, make sure you don’t assume that she’s the primary caregiver at home. If you’re speaking with a colleague with a disability about his stress, don’t assume that his stress is related to his disability.

And what about microaggressions? According to Columbia University’s Derald Wing Sue, “microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

So, if you’re speaking with a non-native English speaker about stress, don’t “compliment them” for being able to speak so clearly or fluently. If you’re speaking with a non-binary colleague about their stress, don’t say, “I can’t keep up with your latest pronouns.”

Finally, we shouldn’t assume that the stress a colleague of ours is experiencing right now is about their marginalized group experience. And we also shouldn’t assume that it isn’t. There’s more about other people’s experiences, cultures, and backgrounds than we can ever truly understand. So be thoughtful, careful, compassionate, and open to feedback about how you’re speaking and showing up for everyone – equitably.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to spot signs of burnout as an entrepreneur

stress migraine
Stress headaches and constant tiredness are some physical signs of burnout.

  • Many entrepreneurs near a point of burnout eventually, so it’s important to recognize symptoms early.
  • Burnout occurs gradually and can manifest in changes in mood and personality or even physical symptoms like stress headaches.
  • Consistent tiredness, irritability, and reduced passion for work are also signs of oncoming burnout.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Entrepreneurship is challenging. Some days, it’s downright exhausting. For many entrepreneurs, there comes a “last straw” breaking point where the conditions are too stressful or too overwhelming to continue.

But for most others, the eventual loss of passion for entrepreneurship – better known as burnout – is something slower and more gradual. It’s a creeping feeling that grows from day to day and eventually begins to affect your work performance.

You won’t go from happy-go-lucky to ready to quit overnight. One day, you might be a little extra irritable. The next, you might wake up and dread the idea of going to work. Not long after, you might make worse decisions, rushing through projects, or you might seriously contemplate leaving.

It’s not a position any entrepreneur wants to find themselves in. The good news is, it’s mostly preventable.

Why it’s important to stop burnout

There’s nothing wrong with changing jobs, selling your business, or retiring. But burnout itself can be devastating. Not only will it force you to leave your business prematurely, it can also leave you feeling despair and exhaustion. Even more importantly, it can negatively affect you on a physical level; burnout is associated with higher stress, higher susceptibility to illness, and even a higher risk of heart disease.

These effects compound with time, so acknowledging and stopping burnout early can put you in a much more favorable position long-term.

The trouble is, burnout is difficult to catch, especially early on.

How to identify entrepreneurial burnout

We all feel stress. We all get nervous. We all experience anxiety or dread sometimes. So how do you know when this is just part of the job and when it’s an early sign of burnout?

  • You dread going to work consistently. One of the hallmark signs is dreading going to work. Everyone dreads going to work some of the time; there might be an awful client to deal with or negative consequences from a bad decision to manage. But if you dread going to work on a consistent basis, it’s a sign of developing burnout.
  • Your mood and personality have changed (according to others). It’s hard to notice the changes in your own personality since they often unfold gradually and beneath our notice. However, burnout often leads people to experience mood and personality changes. Talk to the people around you; do they notice that you’re more irritable, angrier, or less pleasant than you used to be? Chances are, something external is responsible for this.
  • You’re experiencing physical symptoms. As burnout develops, it tends to be associated with more and more physical symptoms. For example, you might feel more stress headaches. You might have trouble getting to sleep (or getting enough sleep). And you might even be more susceptible to contagious illnesses. Keep an eye out for these developments.
  • You always feel tired. No matter how much sleep you get, burnout will leave you feeling tired. You’ll be physically and mentally exhausted most of the time, even after a good night of sleep or a break away from work. It’s almost impossible to feel full of energy.

Solving the burnout problem

It’s tough to make a one-size-fits-all recommendation for how to get rid of burnout because there are many different types of professionals and many different types of burnout.

For example, your burnout might stem from your own over-investment, in which case, delegating more and reducing your workload could help. You might also be worn out from a specific type of stress, which might require you to change up your daily responsibilities. You might even feel under challenged due to excessive predictability and routine, in which case the solution is finding new ways to be stimulated, like learning a new skill.

In any case, one of the best steps to take to address your burnout is to take some time away. Use up a few vacation days or take an extended hiatus from your work; it’s a great opportunity to de-stress and get away from the burden of work. It’s also a chance to get some perspective. Once you’re away from the office, you’ll have a much keener sense of what’s actually stressing you out (and what you might be able to do about it).

You can also talk to the people around you for advice. They may have a better perspective on your work style than you do. Once you have a better understanding of your current position, you can invest time and energy into making an action plan. How can you change your environment and your approach to work in a way that relieves your stress?

The action plan will look different for everyone. But as long as you’re consistent and proactive, you’ll have a good chance of reversing the effects of entrepreneurial burnout in your career.

Read the original article on Business Insider

10 ways to manage stress and stay calm under pressure as a business leader

stress migraine
Overloading your mind with too many to-dos can lead to burnout and emotional outbursts.

  • Business leaders can use certain techniques to minimize stress and burnout at work.
  • Managing your daily workload, practicing delegation, and scheduling downtime can help reduce anxiety.
  • Building supportive professional relationships can also help leaders avoid being short-tempered and prone to outbursts.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

One of the most valuable attributes of a good business professional and leader is to be able to control emotional outbursts, to maximize your credibility and respect, and to maintain your own health.

The best of you train yourselves to show emotions sparingly and strategically, while the rest are convinced that emotions cannot be controlled, and are a function of culture and genetics.

Based on my own many years as a business executive and advisor, I have seen many professionals “mature” from hotheads to people who are cool and calm under pressure, becoming better leaders and decision makers in the process. 

With some coaching and mentoring from other leaders, I was able to do it myself. So I know you can do it too, by committing to the following strategies:

1. Train yourself to always look for positives, not negatives

Optimistic business leaders see value in every new business challenge, rather than stress and risk. You must recognize that change is the norm in business, so problems represent opportunities to learn something new, and improve your productivity and the competitiveness of the business.

2. Write down your top five core values and review them often

Pressure and emotion in business is often an indication of core value conflicts. Once you see and understand the conflict, it’s easier to make a decision, respond rationally, or simply remove yourself from the role. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t, or be everything to everyone.

3. Create a short to-do list at the beginning of each day

A mind overloaded with a large and growing list of critical items is not efficient, and will always be prone to burnout and emotional outbursts. I recommend a three-item high-priority list for focus. Then limit the external interruptions, so you can comfortably and effectively address each one, and more.

4. Practice delegation and decline unreasonable requests

Learn how to courteously turn back requests outside your realm of responsibility, and recommend others who may be more qualified. The most respected business leaders know their limitations, and are not afraid to admit them. Do the same for any commitments to the community and family.

5. Never schedule more than 80% of your time

Pressure and emotion become dominant when your schedule is overloaded, or too many predictable interruptions occur. Of course, most professionals are optimistic, so they tend to over-commit and underestimate work requirements. We all need a buffer to handle those special cases.

6. Put more focus on building the right relationships

Since business is generally not rocket science, relationships with peers, partners, and customers are often more important than skills. Find time in your work schedule for networking, working lunches, and business conferences, where you can test your ideas, learn, and generate support.

7. Define a clear break between work and private activities

Practice a ritual, such as a cup of coffee with a peer, to define your workday beginning, and maybe tea with your spouse to reset to family time. Then diligently don’t let these worlds intrude on each other, except in emergencies. Use the transition to reset stress pressures and emotions.

8. Never use emotion as a substitute for preparation

Effective business professionals always prepare for tough issues and key meetings by doing their own research and getting early counsel from experts and coaches. Not only do they do the homework, but they prepare mentally and physically to be at their best, rather than on the edge.

9. Take satisfaction from wins to balance against setbacks

No one in business wins every battle, so frustration on any issue needs to be offset by other wins and achieving incremental thresholds along the way. For most of us, this requires setting aside some contemplative time on a daily basis to measure key item progress and enjoy small wins.

10. Maintain at least one non-work passion for energy balance

Everyone needs a focus outside of work, such as a hobby, exercise regimen, or sports, to grant relief from work pressures and reset emotions. Emotional outbursts and losing one’s cool are often indicative of burnouts and pending meltdowns. Spread your energy to family as well as work.
 
Don’t let anyone tell you that what you can accomplish is limited by your culture or old habits. Everyone has the ability to control their own actions and emotions, which I find to be the keys to success in most business roles.

I encourage you to learn and practice the strategies outlined here, to minimize stress, and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

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Holiday music may be bad for your mental health, according to science

mariah carey santa holiday music
Santa and Mariah Carey.

  • Incessant repetition of holiday music can have a psychological impact.
  • At first, holiday music can be uplifting, but after a certain period of time, it can cause boredom — and even distress.
  • It can remind listeners of the other stressors of the holiday season, like finances and family.
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The sights and sounds of the holidays are here – and they’re completely inescapable. No matter where you go, it seems like the same classic songs are played on repeat. 

This perception is spot on: Spotify reports that listening spikes during the last two months of the year. Michael Bublé’s “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” top the list of most streamed tunes

But the incessant repetition can have a psychological impact. There’s a U-shaped relationship between how often we hear a song and how much we like it, what’s known as the mere exposure effect

At first, holiday music may spark nostalgia and get you in the holiday spirit. But hearing “Jingle Bells” for the millionth time can lead to annoyance, boredom, and even distress, researchers say.

That’s because the brain becomes oversaturated, triggering a negative response. If you’re already worried about moneywork, or seeing family during the holidays, the constant inundation of cheerful tunes may reinforce your stress instead of relieving it. 

It can also be downright distracting, affecting employee productivity and irritating consumers. In fact, a 2011 Consumer Reports survey found that 23% of Americans dread holiday music.

Clinical psychologist Linda Blair says Christmas music can be mentally draining:

“People working in the shops [have to tune out] Christmas music, because if they don’t, it really does stop you from being able to focus on anything else… You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”

How can you strike the right balance of good cheer that doesn’t drive you crazy?

Switch up your music so people’s brains don’t get bored. Playing the same Christmas songs all season long produces cognitive fatigue. Practice good sound management by varying your playlists and keeping the volume in check.

Studies also show that wintry scents like pine and cinnamon help conjure happy emotions, so recruit other senses when celebrating. 

If all else fails, a set of ear plugs makes a nice stocking stuffer.

This Inc story was originally published on Business Insider December 24, 2018.

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