Cerith Gardiner – published on 04/13/23
It’s incredible to think that the average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. And that substantial amount of time will feel even longer if we’re unhappy in our jobs.
Thankfully, a leading British work psychologist, Professor Cary Cooper has shared some tips with The Conversation on how to make our work place happier, based on a research project for the British government and his extensive years in the field.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck behind a desk all day, and not getting any time to get out and about. Cooper maintains the importance of keeping physically active as it can help diminish “emotional intensity” and free up some head room to think about anything that’s on your mind.
The physical effects can be rewarding, too. Trying to stay active can have a positive impact on your heart rate and boost oxygen to the brain. In return, this can help with any mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.
While squeezing in an exercise class at lunchtime isn’t possible for everyone, walking to and from work is useful for breaking up the working day. If the commute by public transport is too long, Cooper suggests hopping off a stop early and walking the rest of the way to work.
Build work relationships
Connecting with your co-workers is another great way to feel happy at work. Cooper believes that “the more you invest in your relationships at work, the more enjoyable you may find your day.”
This doesn’t mean you all have to be great friends, but if you take the time to know and understand your colleagues, you’ll find your working day a lot more enjoyable. And on those tricky days when work is getting you down, you may be able to lean on your co-workers for support.
Increase your skills
According to research, learning a new skill is another brain booster. Cooper explains that remaining “cognitively active” is beneficial to our general mental health.
While hobbies such as learning to draw or sew can be very useful, skills such as learning a new piece of software can help both our brains and our careers.
Stay in the now
Part of our working life often involves planning for the future. In fact we can be so focused on those long-term decisions that we move away from what is important in our present lives.
Cooper believes that taking the time to enjoy the now will help you to appreciate what’s actually going on in your life. While he claims meditating can be a useful tool for achieving this gratitude, Catholics can turn to prayer and praising God as a useful way of being truly in the present.
Spot the positives
We can often focus on all the negatives in our lives. However, Cooper states that if we try to bring a little more positivity to our mindset, life at work will be happier.
This doesn’t mean you suddenly to have to become a positive person. It’s more a question of recognizing the things that are good in your life. “Accept there are things at work or in life you can’t change and concentrate on the things you have control over,” suggests Cooper.
Resist bad habits
This may be easier said than done for some people, but Cooper says we need to be mindful of falling into unhealthy habits when dealing with stress.
While that extra cup of coffee might be irresistible, or reaching for a cigarette may seem like the perfect solution, these temptations won’t help stress levels in the long run. Remember that suggestion to get active? Try going for a walk around the office block if you need to de-stress, or take time to pray for a little heavenly intervention.
Watch those hours
This is much easier said than done, but it’s important to know when it’s time to switch off from work. While this may mean setting realistic deadlines, trying to work more efficiently, or sometimes saying “no” to your boss, by finding time to enjoy life outside of work, you’ll be happier when the work day comes around.