Stop the Stress! 9 Tips for Increasing Work Happiness
Everyone deserves to love what they do and be happy at work. After all, we spend nearly half of our waking hours there! But life has a habit of stressing us out, and then work piles even more obligations onto our teetering pile of To-Dos, Must-Dos, and (eek!) Past-Dues. Sometimes it’s just difficult to feel alert and excited when we arrive at the office each morning.
Unless you already dance into your practice each day, prioritizing and finding small ways to improve your outlook while at work is the most important place to start. Here are some simple tips for conquering stress and increasing your workplace happiness without feeling stressed and miserable about it.
9 Tips to Stop Stressing and Be Happier at Work
Reset your brain. Before you get to work, instead of focusing on everything you have to do today, think about what you like best about your job. Maybe there are particular tasks you enjoy, maybe your team is great to work with or you love interacting with patients, or maybe you’re just thankful your vacation is coming up soon! Finding positive aspects of work life to focus on helps you charge up to face the day.
Look at your own big picture. Daily grind aside, how is your current position contributing to your overall career development? Are you still learning interesting new things and applying them? Are you getting everything you need? Or do you need better resources or more training, whether to stay abreast of new technology, become a stronger manager, build your skills, or reach toward your goals?
Clean up your workspace. I know, I know… there’s no time, but sneak it in anyway. If you’ve got a swamp of papers scattered around so you don’t forget things, make a list of what’s “on” your desk so you can tackle them one by one, then put everything away. Most of us instantly start feeling better and less stressed in a clean environment, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. And while “creative clutter” may have its place in life, teetering piles of paperwork rarely count.
Next, clean out your brain. Jot down everything swimming around in there: what you’re way behind on, what calls need to be made, which employees need to be coached, what you’re worried about. Once you’ve made a mess, use it as the basis for a new list. This time, prioritize. Sure, everything on there is important, but which items can wait another day, and which cannot?
Give yourself the gift of focus. When your project pile could be scaled by mountaineers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – especially in a world that claims multitasking is always a virtue. But switching off the noise and picking one bite-sized, achievable goal to focus on first can make work feel manageable again. If your most pressing task is huge, cut off a manageable chunk and start there. If you need to, write it down on a post-it to-do list all by itself, and cross it out with great enthusiasm when you finish. Then rinse and repeat!
Don’t let problems fester. Got an issue that’s making you miserable, even when you’re not thinking about it? Maybe there’s an annoying phone call you need to make, or a worrisome employee issue you’ve been putting off addressing (give CEDR a call! We can help you figure out how). As Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” Get your worst nightmare over with early, and you’ll feel better afterward.
Make tiny good habits. Sometimes huge projects feel downright unapproachable – an endless set of patient files that need straightening out, for example, or a backlog of past-due accounts that need re-billing. Instead of thinking of your largest project as a Herculean task that you need to (but can’t) spend a week on, resolve to work on it for 10 minutes and only 10 minutes when you first get to work every morning, or right before you leave. With constant effort but without the pressure, you’ll feel more virtuous, get more done, and sometimes you’ll even keep working a bit longer when you find you’re on a roll.
Take a breather. Getting a handle on your workload may make you feel happier in the “now,” but we also know that proper rest and exercise is just as, if not more, important for increasing health and happiness, and reducing stress. During desk work, make a point of simply standing up more often, or looking beyond your computer screen. And all day long, from taking a moment to breathe more deeply, to getting a brief walk in during breaks, remember that every physical effort you can make is good for your body and your mental health. It’s a chemical fact!
Practice positivity. More and more evidence keeps indicating that how we perceive the world impacts how we feel about it. People who describe themselves as optimists or think of themselves as “lucky” see opportunities that others miss. Plus, happy people are more productive. Challenge yourself to recast obstacles as opportunities, even if it doesn’t come naturally. And pay attention to what motivates you, at work and outside the office, so you can work more of that into your daily routines.
And yes – it’s OK to focus on your own happiness first! Even if you’re in charge of a team, it’s no good preaching positivity and rainbows until you banish the little grey raincloud hovering over your own head.
Ready to get started? Excellent! Go forth and conquer the world. And, while you’re at it…have a great day.