When You’re Having a Bad Day at Work

We all have bad days sometimes:  Something in your personal life could be causing you stress; perhaps you’re unhappy with the way things are going in your job; or maybe you just didn’t get enough sleep.  The point is that you’re not feeling well and people had better stay out of your way!

Hold it!  You can get away (sometimes) with snapping at your friends and family, but at work it is unacceptable behaviour.  In the workplace, you need to rise above your bad mood and be professional at all times.  Here are some tips to help you snap out of your grumpiness and have a productive day.

Focus on a task that doesn’t involve people.  If it is possible within your job, try to start your day with a more solitary task.  Filing, cleaning, and organizing all allow you to work off frustration and give you a little space from your co-workers.  After you’re finished, you may feel a little better and you’ll be glad that you got the job done.      

Be kind to yourself.  Today is not the day to start a diet or to quit drinking coffee.  Be a little extra gentle with yourself today.  You could treat yourself to a hot chocolate or to lunch at a restaurant.  You could even promise yourself that you will watch the hockey game or take a bubble bath when you get home.  If you allow yourself these little treats, you may start to feel better. 

Tell a co-worker or a friend how you are feeling.  Sometimes it helps to tell somebody that you’re having a bad day.  If you have a friend at work or you are close to a co-worker, don’t be afraid to talk to them.  When you are open with your co-workers,  you start to develop a closer relationship with them.  Also, they may be able to offer you some support.  Tomorrow it might be your turn to listen when your co-worker is having a bad day.

Try to be optimistic.  Try to maintain a positive attitude even though you are having a bad day.  Be grateful that you have a job and know that your problem will not last forever.  When something is causing you stress, you need to either make a change or accept the situation.  Decide what you are going to do and be happy with that decision.

Put on a smile until 5pm.  If nothing is making you feel better, then you need to act like the professional that you are and put on a happy face.  You don’t have to sing love songs, but also don’t snap at people or walk around with a scowl.  If you try to project an image that you are happy, you may even start to feel better.

When you’re having a bad day, it can be difficult to get out of bed, let alone to go into work and be friendly to people.  However, it is important that you smile and act professionally even when you aren’t feeling great.  Think about it- would you want to be around someone who seems unhappy?  If you were a manager, would you promote someone whose moods are unpredictable?  So look happy and get to work!

(Written by:  Karen Bivand)

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How to Tell Your Manager that You’re Not Happy

You’ve got a problem at work, and it’s taking a toll.  Because of this problem, you no longer enjoy your job.  You’ve decided that you want to bring your concerns to your manager.  Here are some tips to help you prepare for that meeting:

Ask yourself if it’s worth it.  Is it possible that you are putting too much emphasis on this problem?  When we are in the middle of a situation, it can be easy to lose perspective.  What will you do if you can’t solve the problem?  Will you quit your job?  Once you escalate a problem to your manager, there is no turning back; make sure that it’s worth it.

Have a clear understanding of what’s bothering you.  When you approach your manager, you need to be able to clearly outline the problem.  Don’t be general or vague.  Prepare detailed examples that support your concerns.

Take steps to solve the problem.  What have you done to address the issue?  Your manager will want to see that you are a problem solver, and not just a complainer.  What is your ideal outcome?  Take ownership of the problem by having a solution in mind.

Be professional and factual.  When you are upset, it can be difficult to keep your emotions in check.  However, when you are discussing a problem with your manager, it is better if you communicate in a way that is professional and factual.  This will help you maintain your credibility and ensure that your manager takes your concerns seriously.

Take any steps that your manager suggests.  Your manager may offer you some suggestions to help solve your problem.  Make sure that you act on these suggestions.  Remember that your manager has lots of experience, and also has access to information that you don’t.  Also, by acting on your manager’s suggestions, you demonstrate that you are making a real effort to improve the situation.

It’s never easy to tell your manager that you aren’t happy.  There is always the fear that they will decide that you are too much trouble and let you go.  However, it is also not a good idea to let problems fester until they become unsolvable.  Remember that your job satisfaction is important, and as long as you are being reasonable and professional, most managers will listen to your concerns and try to solve the problem.

(Written by:  Karen Bivand)

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Why are You Stressed at Work?

Are you overwhelmed at work?  Do you feel anxious and irritable all of the time?  Is your workplace stress starting to impact your relationships?  If so, then it is time for you to address it.  The first step is to identify why you are stressed: 

Do you feel physically healthy?  Are you eating properly?  Are you getting enough sleep?  Is it possible that you have a health condition that is draining your energy?    When we don’t feel well physically, it makes it significantly more difficult for us to cope with the daily stresses of life.  Take care of your body and see a doctor if you have any health concerns. 

Is there something in your personal life that is causing your stress?  We are not machines.  When something is bothering us at home, it can be difficult to focus on work.  In addition, many of us struggle with finding a work/life balance. If balancing your work and home life is causing you stress, your employer may be able to offer you some support or flexibility.   

How long have you been feeling stressed?  Have you been feeling overwhelmed for just a few weeks or has it been dragging on for a while?  Is it possible that you are going through a stressful period and that things will soon settle down?  If this is the case, you may just need to hang on and wait for things to get back to normal.  However, if the stress has been overwhelming for more than a month, then there may be a problem that needs to be addressed.     

What triggers your stress?  When do you feel the most stressed?  Is it when you have a lot of tasks but not enough time to do them?  Is there a particular person who stresses you out?  If you can successfully identify your triggers, it will be much easier for you to address the problem. 

Look at your work environment.  How is the mood at work?  Are your co-workers stressed?  Is your workplace a busy and tense environment?  If so, stress may be a part of the job.  You need to either learn to live with it or find a new job.  Remember, the stressful environment could just be a part of the organizational culture.  If that’s the case, then you may be happier working somewhere else.   

Do you face conflicts at work?  Many of our jobs regularly put us in conflicts with others (co-workers, customers, suppliers, etc.)  If you are regularly encountering conflicts, this could explain your stress.  Is there any way that you can avoid or lessen the conflicts that you face in your job?  How can you change the way that you handle these conflicts to make them less stressful for you? 

Are the expectations for your job clear and reasonable?  Do you have a clear understanding of what you are expected to do at work?  Are you aware of how your performance will be evaluated?  Do you feel that the expectations of you are reasonable?  Unclear and unreasonable expectations are a common cause of workplace stress.  If this is an issue for you, it would be a good idea for you to communicate your concerns with your manager.  Very few managers want to set up their employees to fail.  

Do you enjoy your work?  Waking up each day to go to a job that you hate would make anyone tense.  If you spend your work day watching the clock and waiting for it to be over, then it may be time to consider a career change.  

Do you feel like your job is not secure?  Have there been layoffs at your workplace?  Do feel like if you don’t perform well, you could be next?  In today’s labour market, no job is secure.  However, instead of letting the stress consume you, get yourself prepared in case the worst does happen.  If you keep your skills current, maintain an active network, and have some savings on hand, you will always be ready to find a new job.

Now that you know why you are stressed, it is time to take action.  Address the problem immediately so that your situation improves.  Stress can be harmful to both your mental and your physical health, so it is important that you take it seriously.  The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety can provide you with more information on workplace stress and resources to help you cope with it:


(Written by:  Karen Bivand, Photo From: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

10 Signs that You are About to Reach Your Breaking Point

You’re stressed.  It’s nothing new; everyone is stressed these days.  However, how do you know when your stress has reached an unhealthy level?  When do you need to step back and make a change for the good of your own mental and physical health?  Here are ten warning signs that your stress may be causing you harm:

1.  You are snapping at people.  You are usually a patient person, but recently you’ve found yourself responding harshly when people annoy you.  Your family and your co-workers have mentioned that you seem to be a little ‘on edge’.

2.  Your sleep patterns are disrupted.  You are finding it difficult to get a restful night of sleep.  On the other hand, you may also be finding that you are sleeping more than you normally do.

3.  You find yourself withdrawing from others.  Socializing and talking to other people feels like a chore.  These days, you would prefer to be alone.

4.  Things that used to excite you now feel overwhelming and unmanageable.  You have noticed that you are a lot more pessimistic than you usually are.

5.  You are eating too much or too little, or you are binging on unhealthy food.  You forget to eat, or your decision to eat feels like an emotional one.

6. You find it difficult to concentrate, and you have been forgetting things.  You feel like you can’t trust your own judgement. 

7.  You are constantly worrying.  Your mind is an endless loop of the various stressors in your life.  You are finding it difficult to turn it off, even for a moment.

8.  You have been getting frequent headaches, stomachaches, or other aches and pains.  Stress often manifests itself in body pain.

9.  You have been neglecting your responsibilities.  You have been putting off important tasks, and you are not performing to your normal level.  Your co-workers are wondering what has gotten into you!

10.  You are turning to substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to help you relax.  Many people have a drink now and then, but if you need it to get you through the day, it is a problem. 

With all of our competing demands, many of us push ourselves too hard from time to time.  However, we need to realize that this is not a sustainable way to live.  We tend to take our mental health for granted, and that is a mistake.  It is important that you take care of yourself.  If you are exhibiting signs of stress, then slow down, and try to do what you can to lighten your load and relax.

(Written by Karen Bivand)