Feeling Workplace Burnout? 5 Ways to Increase Happiness While You Work

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February 28, 2021 — 17:04 PM

On a scale of 1-10, how happy do you feel while working? I am not talking about job satisfaction; I mean how many pleasant emotions are you feeling each day? (Emotions such as excitement, calm, amusement, and joy.) It’s not realistic to feel pleasant emotions all day every day, but the goal is to feel more pleasant than unpleasant—and certainly more pleasant that painful emotions. (At work, “painful emotions” can include anger, fear, chronic stress, and so on.) My goal is to give you five powerful, proven tools to increase and sustain happiness while working.

The lines between home and work life have never been more blurred and a lot of the “work perks” are on pause at the moment. Not to mention, human connection is the number one predictor of happiness and we are missing the spontaneous water cooler chats, lunches, and even walks or happy hours after work.

So what can you do to combat work burnout and stress—especially during these trying times? Here, some solutions.

Create something in your organization that helps others.

Harvard’s Annie McKee, PhD, wrote the book, How to Be Happy at Work: The Power Of Purpose, Hope And Friendship, and in it she states, “Keep your eyes open for opportunities to join a group that is trying to solve a problem.”

In every organization there are challenges and frustrations that people face. You can look for ideas that will help your boss, your colleagues, another team, or your customers. When you create a new process, product, or system that is helpful, you will feel pride and gratitude and grow your relationships.

Use your top three strengths at work daily.

Do you know your top three strengths? It’s important to take a thoughtful look at yourself and your work habits, so you can identify the things that set you apart—and bring you joy. These are your strengths. (You can take the free strengths finder survey here.)

Once you know your strengths, brainstorm with your boss, colleagues, and friends on how you can truly use them on a regular basis. This could mean taking on a new responsibility or joining a committee that truly aligns with who you are. Using your strengths at work will make you happier, more engaged, and more productive!

Put Mother Nature in your daily calendar.

It is much easier to stay inside all day while you are working from home. There are great home workouts and technology conveniences that allow us to go from sleep, to eating, to work, to relaxation, and then back to sleep. But there are numerous benefits of prioritizing time outside during your workday to both your psychological well-being and emotional well-being. One study proved that nature walks, and other outdoor activities build attention and focus.

I suggest blocking time off in your calendar to make sure this happens. Ideas include a morning run or bike ride before you start your day, having a walking meetings (especially useful if the meeting is a call!), a gardening break, lunch hike, or stretching or reading outside before dinner.

Nature helps in emotional regulation, improves memory, reduces stress, and can make us more creative! A moment of insight may come when you step away from your electronics and step outside. 

Create a personal vision for your career—a guiding light to inspire you.

Visioning can be extremely powerful when you connect to your future goals and visualize the challenges and successes that you will have along the way. When you create a personal career vision that is meaningful to you, you will be connected to the journey and motivated to keep taking actions daily.

Your vision is a “picture” of what you aspire to, and what inspires you, in your work life. They key to staying motivated toward your vision is breaking down your big, long-term goals into small steps and putting those in your calendar. According to the neuroscience of motivation, each time you complete a small step, you will get a shot of dopamine in the brain, and that motivates to keep working towards your personal vision.

Connect with friends and colleagues daily to laugh, share, and grow together.

Gallup’s research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job. Friendships at work really matter! Set up time on your morning or lunch breaks to chat, joke, and catch up with the people that you are close to in your organization. Share what is going on in your personal life, practice whole-being listening for them, and make friendship a priority while you are working. You can set up interactive zoom games, share humorous stories, and help each other achieve both professional and personal goals. 

Remember that you can feel really happy while working! Just like everything in life, it takes effort, and consistent reflection. I hope these five tips were helpful for you. Share them with a friend or colleague who could use some more joy while working.


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