Work, it’s something most of us do though it isn’t always enjoyable. Whether it’s long hours, gruelling tasks or just the repetitive nature of a day-to-day routine, work can sometimes be something we have to endure rather than something we enjoy. But given that work takes more of your life time than any other activity, besides sleeping, it makes sense to try and enjoy it if you can. So what can you do to be happier at work and reduce stress?
Latest research from the New Economics Foundation, identified several things that can reduce stress and enhance wellbeing and happiness – all of which can be applied to the workplace. So what helps?
- Be Active: Exercise and other physical activities won’t make your problems or stress disappear, but they will reduce their emotional intensity and give you mental space to sort out problems – as well as keep you physically fit. Research shows time and time again the positive benefits of exercise, so why not work exercise into your working day.
- Connect with people: If you examine most of the happiness scales, relationships with others come near the top of these lists. If the last couple of years have thought us anything is that people crave the human side of work. Indeed, a good support network of friends and family can minimise your work troubles and help you see things differently. It’s also worth getting to know your colleagues. The more you invest in your relationships at work, the more enjoyable you may find your day. Helping work colleagues and others in your life, can also enhance your self-esteem and give you a sense of purpose, which is essential to your wellbeing and contentment.
- Learn new skills: Keeping “cognitively active” is critical to your psychological and mental wellbeing and can provide you with new opportunities in terms of your career development. So try to keep learning – take a course, develop some new skills or learn a new hobby, it all adds up. Having things going on in your life outside of work is also important for your emotional and mental wellbeing. In Ireland and the UK we work some of the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don’t spend enough time doing the things we really enjoy. Don’t work excessive hours. And ensure you make time for socialising, exercise, along with activities you find fun.
- Stay present: This is something I find difficult. It’s all about “being in the moment” rather than in the past or looking too far forward. Enjoy the present and you will appreciate it more. This is not about sitting down for hours meditating either. Being in the moment is more about bringing your brain back to the now. A more mindful approach to life is something you can practice at any time of the day, it’s just about being aware, recognising the positives, noticing your surroundings – the sights, sounds, smells. You can do this while you’re walking, in a meeting or just enjoying a nice cup of coffee.
- Avoid unhealthy habits: Given what we know about their long-term consequences, using excessive alcohol, social media or smoking as a coping strategy for work stress is ultimately likely to have a negative impact on your happiness, even if they seem to provide a quick pick-me-up. The unhealthy habit cycle is understandable, because the brain doesn’t make changes easily. But breaking an unhealthy habit can be done. It takes intent, a little white-knuckling, and some effective behaviour modification techniques. But even before that, it helps to understand what’s happening in our brains, with our motivations, and with our self-talk.
At GoChallenge our mission is to increase employee happiness and engagement through the power of movement, social connection and technology. Our solution espouses all five tips listed above. If you would like to learn more please contact us.