Work – that’s what most of us do even though it’s not always enjoyable. Whether it’s long hours, heavy tasks, or just the repetitive nature of our daily routine, work can sometimes be more of what we have to do than what we want to do.
But given that the average person will spend 90 000 hours working in their lifetime, you should try and enjoy it if you can. So what can you do to be happier at work and reduce stress?
I’m the lead scientist on a government project that looks at how our emotional health and resilience can change over a lifetime.
As part of this project, the team, with help from the New Economy Fund think tank, has identified a number of things that can reduce stress and enhance well-being and happiness – all applicable in the workplace. So what helps?
1. Be active
Exercise and other physical activities won’t make your problems or stress go away, but they will reduce emotional intensity and give you mental space to work through problems – and keep you physically healthy.
Research has shown time and time again the positive benefits of exercise, so why not end your workday with some physical activity.
Walking to and from work is a great way to create some separation from the workday. If you can’t, you can get off the bus early, make time for an active lunch, or maybe find a fitness class to do before you start work for the day.
2. Connect with people
If you examine most happiness scales, relationships with other people will be near the top of this list.
During the pandemic, many people find their health affected by a lack of social interaction. Indeed, a good support network from friends and family can reduce your work troubles and help you see things differently.
You should also get to know your colleagues. The more you invest in relationships at work, the more enjoyable your day will be.
Helping coworkers and others in your life can also boost your self-esteem and give you a sense of purpose, which is essential to your happiness and fulfillment.
3. Learn new skills Staying “perceived positive” is vital to your mental and emotional health and can present you with new opportunities for career growth. So try to keep learning – take a course, develop some new skill or learn a new hobby, all of which complement each other.
Having things going on in your life outside of work is also important for your mental and emotional health. In the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don’t spend enough time doing the things we really love. Don’t work too many hours. And make sure you make time for socializing, exercise, and activities that you find enjoyable.
4. Always present
This is all about being “in the moment” and not in the past or looking too far ahead. Enjoy the present and you will appreciate it more. Indeed, there is a lot of research on the positive aspects of mindfulness and how it can help mental health.
You also don’t have to sit for hours to meditate. Being in the moment is more than bringing your brain back to the present. A more mindful approach to living is something you can practice at any time of the day, which is just being aware, paying attention to your surroundings – sights, sounds, smells. You can do this while walking, in a meeting or making a cup of tea.
5. Realize the positives
Being present also helps you see the positives in your life – allowing you to become a cup half full, not someone with half a cup left.
Accept that there are things at work or in life that you cannot change and focus on the things you have control over. Remind yourself to feel grateful for the positive things in your life.
6. Avoid unhealthy habits
Based on what we know about their long-term consequences, excessive use of alcohol, coffee, or smoking as a coping strategy for work stress is likely to ultimately negatively impact happiness. your well-being, even if they seem to have an immediate effect. upward.
7. Work smarter, not longer
Prioritize your workload during work hours and you’ll have more free time to do the things you enjoy. Accept that your paper tray will always be full, so focus on what’s important first.
The more control you have over your work life and the balance you need, the more likely you are to be happier at work. Indeed, since in the UK stress-related illness accounts for almost 60% of all long-term illnesses, you must prioritize your health and try to reduce stress at work where possible.
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