G3.1: Positive stress has a sense of purpose – “eustress.”

Positive stress or “Eustress” can be less of a negative for health and happiness and instead be the challenge that keeps someone going and gets them out of bed in the morning excited to greet each new day.

  • See the article What is Positive Stress? for more information and a link to a business related article with more information about making a business environment support an employee’s sense of purpose and ownership of their work. Having “autonomy” over some aspect of your job can help provide a sense of purpose and value even when the work is repetitious or boring. (12.21)

Self-reported mindfulness was found to be associated with more self-esteem and an orientation for autonomy – feeling the ability to be self-directed. The research authors suggest mindfulness can be innate but which is also a skill that can be developed over time and improved with practice. Having an autonomy orientation has also been associated with more prosocial behavior – helping others, volunteering or other positive activities – and more to the point for a guide about writing policy for guiding behavior – autonomy support was associated with lower volunteer turnover. (12.23)

A sense of autonomy refers to feeling that you are in control over your actions instead of having your every action be micromanaged with excessively controlling policies. For “Autonomy support,” try investing in the workers with training and career planning resources. Effective managers and leaders aren’t born, they are trained and mentored, and opportunities for resume building projects may have been handed to them through networking.

Whatever Happened to Assertiveness Training?” asks a psychiatrist in an article focused on the need for assertiveness training for physicians. (G7.6David M. Allen shares his concern that the changes in the health insurance coverage and managed care industry have left physicians more stressed and rushed than is healthy for them or their patients – potentially.

The solution that has been offered is mindfulness training, to help cope with stress. He makes the point that it is not a solution that would help protect patients or the physician’s time and stress caused as a direct result of having ineffective conversations with managed care or insurance company representatives. Who in turn can be rude or abrupt, or just a human but one who is having to enforce annoying, unrealistic policies that may even be life threatening. And oh, yes, the physician might be pressed for time as well. Mr Allen recommends assertiveness training for the physicians to help them directly reduce stress by giving them better tools for managing the real underlying cause of some of the stress – having to perform a job that has unrealistic demands on their time, and their patience and professional need to prevent harm to their patients. (G7.6)

While everyone needs a livable wage, younger workers today may value a sense of purpose and autonomy more than a pay raise or monetary bonus. They are more likely to switch jobs many times in comparison to workers of previous generations.

  • Read more: Forget work perks, millennial employees value engagement. (12.26)

Leaders and managers can be the role models for purposeful behavior and smooth the way for employees to seek out a purpose they find stimulating. Guiding the selection of projects and helping the team collaborate can also give younger workers a chance at leadership roles which can add experience to their work record and resume.

Recent research suggests workers are more engaged when their manager or business leadership shows a sense of purpose. The team of researchers suggest that organizations can promote purposeful and ethical leadership in their management staff with several key strategies: adopting relevant policies; providing leadership role-modeling; having a core vision for the business; providing training and development for staff; and providing an organizational culture.

  • See Why Leaders With A Moral Purpose Have More Engaged Workers: (11.70)

An organizational culture that would be more supportive of purposeful leadership would promote positive interpersonal relationships and support the staff who are demonstrating the values of the core vision of the business.     

A purposeful leader incorporates the values of a moral self, with vision and commitment to stakeholders according to a report by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, CIPD, and a purposeful organisation would have the attributes of societal responsibility, values, and ethics. The full report is available for download: Purposeful leadership: What is it, what causes it, and does it matter?, CIPD.co.uk: (12.31)

Advocacy for causes that support society in general or at a local level or even for the employee who needs a new car to get to work are all serving a “moral purpose.” Advocacy can be very challenging and trying to help can sometimes end up being harmful instead. Guidance is available, a free ebook, “The Complete Guide to Advocacy,” might help make speaking up for the environment and for human rights less stressful and more likely to result in providing effective help: (12.32.thecampaignworkshop.com)

References:

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes. 

  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert)

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