Work stress is pervasive.
Recent research indicates that job stress is far and away the leading source of stress for Americans. What’s more, these stress levels have escalated over the course of the past few decades with no signs of reversing course.
Unfortunately, chronic stress is also really harmful. It can have significant negative effects on your body and your behavior. However, when the culture normalizes stress, it becomes easier to ignore it and just keep pushing. Eventually, the pace and the accompanying stress can begin to take a toll on your overall happiness and your job satisfaction.
The importance of pausing to celebrate.
Selk’s advice boils down to this: reward yourself for your accomplishments. Doing so can encourage you feel excited to go to work again, no matter how hectic the pace.
At Forbes, Selk wrote:
"There is an old saying: “Anything unrewarded eventually exits your life.” …If you are going to work hard, you must reward yourself to avoid burnout and unhappiness. I wrote in my first book, 10-Minute Toughness, unless individuals learn to recognize when they have done something well, discouragement is inevitable. Life insures that setbacks and failures will come our way, no matter how hard we work to avoid them. In addition, humans have a natural bias toward focusing on and ruminating on the negative or our shortcomings. Unless we make a conscious effort to reward ourselves for what we are doing well, this will not happen naturally. As a result, we are primed for discouragement, burnout, and even unhappiness.
He proposed a two-point plan:
1. Decide what you're going to reward.
Choose one daily task that’s most important for you to accomplish, and then reward yourself for crossing it off your to-do list. Decide which tasks are the most essential for you today, this week, or this month. You might also consider selecting tasks for each of these time frames.
2. Decide when and how often to reward yourself.
Next, decide on how often you’ll reward yourself for each accomplishment. For instance, you might reward yourself with a cup of coffee or a walk at lunch if you can finish your morning’s work. If you finish a big project, you might decide to take a couple of hours off on a Friday or go out for a special meal with your friends or partner.
The key is to use this structure to pause, acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments. Sure, your job pays you for your efforts, but that doesn’t go quite far enough. Building these little mood-boosting stops into your agenda can make a world of difference.
“Do not reward yourself unless you complete the work; however, if you do the work, take the reward, even if you feel that other aspects of your life or productivity are falling short,” Selk advised. “The best way to make improvements is to promote what is going well. Doing so will be a small but important way of keeping passion and energy high.”
This story originally appeared in PayScale.