We’ve all read advice on how to be more efficient and harder working in the office. Productivity tends to be the name of the game when it comes to professional improvement. But ultimately, our mental health is just as important as the documents we draft and the spreadsheets we email out. So, how do we effectively walk the line between being professionally productive and personally happy?
Check out these 10 ways to be happier at the office—from things you can do right now to things you should implement in the next year for long-term well-being. (You—and your boss—can thank us later.)
– Walk Around the Block (Especially if it’s Sunny Out)
Sometimes all it takes to boost your mood at work is a quick walk around the block. Doctors at Mayo Clinic explain that walking is not only great for you physically, but it also lifts your mood. Grab that co-worker you’ve been meaning to talk to, and have an active outdoor meeting.
– Just Smile
Smiling makes you feel happier. Simple as that. Research has discovered that smiling, whether it’s natural or forced, causes your brain to interpret that physical reaction as positive and will then recognize whatever activity you’re doing as being enjoyable. So, put on a cheesy grin while you’re typing up that report, and you might just find yourself feeling a little bit better about it.
– Set Aside 20 Minutes a Day for Personal Tasks
We all have personal responsibilities to attend to. But sometimes, those pressing thoughts gnaw away at your brain, and anxiety soon follows. So, consider taking just 20 minutes per day to accomplish a couple of pressing personal tasks. Whether you’re arranging your child’s after-school pickup schedule for the week or making that dinner reservation for your best friend’s birthday, setting aside personal time can help you feel more at ease and way happier in the office.
– Remember Your Value
Former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and career expert Kate White suggests: “When you’re burnt out, it’s hard to remember why you’re doing what you do. Take some time to step back and think about past projects and achievements you’re proud of and how they’ve changed the company in a positive way. Then, map out a plan to take those accomplishments to the next level by developing a new set of goals you can get excited about. You should always have a goal (or three) to keep you motivated about how you can bring more value to your employer—and your resume.”
– Switch Up Your Routine
Sometimes it’s just the fact that your days seem to pass by similarly that has you feeling stuck in a rut. So, find a way to switch it up! Walk or bike to work instead of your usual commute to give your mornings a fresh perspective. Ask a friend to lunch instead of grabbing a quite bite at your usual deli. See if you can spend a few hours in the afternoon working from a coffee shop instead of your cubicle.
– Get Enough Sleep
It’s that simple. Being well-rested allows you to focus and think better, meaning you spend less time zoned out and more time engaged. Grumpiness is less of an issue when you’ve had those solid eight hours of sleep. The American Psychological Association found that Americans who got more sleep on average tend to be healthier, happier, and even safer. And as a bonus: You’ll finally get rid of those dark bags under your eyes.
– Make Your Mornings Count
Set aside 15 minutes each morning to gather your thoughts and create your daily goals. You don’t need to get too complicated with this new morning ritual—one or two things are all you should be focusing on. Taking time for yourself will help center and focus you, meaning it’ll be easier to recognize what makes you happy and plot the steps to get there.
– Make Sure to Communicate
Communication is an invaluable skill, yet we often forget to utilize it. Whether you start sending more reminder emails or take an extra minute to check in with your manager about the day’s events, communicating will inevitably aid in feeling less stressed out.
– Take Those Vacation Days
Seriously, they exist for a reason. Not only does taking that vacation help improve your happiness, it’s also good for your career. Nearly 57% of Americans don’t take advantage of their vacation days, which means they’re missing out on deeper sleep, higher work productivity, and feeling more positive about their jobs. Start dreaming of where you want to go today, and then snatch up those plane tickets!
– Start a Side Project
Side projects give you the opportunity to explore a new interest that you don’t have time for while at work. They can make all the difference when it comes to feeling happy and productive—or bored and disinterested. Brainstorm the side project you want to take up this weekend—and get going!