As a personal coach, I have helped a lot of people deal with work-related stress. Commuting 2+ hours a day, battling traffic, sitting on your butt staring at a computer for 8 to 10 hours and speed-eating your lunch at your desk -- it's no wonder we feel completely drained at the end of the week. Do you spend your last hours on Friday counting down before the weekend to feel alive again? If so, here are simple but effective steps to help you thrive throughout your workweek, not just survive.
Get up earlier.
Adding an extra 5 to 10 minutes to your morning will allow you to create a more relaxed and productive start to the day. Ever run out of the door last minute? Yeah, me too. It makes a very anxious way to begin the day. When I get up a little earlier and take my time adding a happiness habit into my morning (reading, more time with pets, watering plants, yoga, etc.) I start off the day feeling much more focused and relaxed.
Learn to love a good traffic jam.
Your "traffic jam" can be music, a podcast, a TED talk...whatever it is, have it ready and loaded for the morning. After slamming on the breaks for the fourth time on the freeway because people forgot how to merge (again), or dealing with subway delays, a good traffic jam can help you stay occupied and keep you calm. I find it really difficult to get upset when I'm listening to my favorite podcast or song mix. If you listen to the news, replace it with a comedian of your choice and see if there's a difference in your mood throughout the day. You've got nothing to lose!
Set a break timer.
Set your timer to go off every hour and move around for 1 to 3 minutes. Stand up, stretch from side to side, walk around the office, do arm, eye, or chair stretches -- do whatever works for you. Don't think you have time? If you take the full 24 minutes each day to move, you will decrease tendentious, risk of carpal tunnel, strain on the eyes, and back and neck pains, as well as increase blood flow. All of these are things that will make you even more productive and leave your body feeling more energized. Every hour, on the hour, I get up do yoga (if my outfit permits) or dance a little ditty (because, why not?).
No Lunch? No Problem.
If you're like me and can get ultra-focused on a project and forget to take a lunch break, then this simple alternative might work: try keeping healthy snacks near you and graze throughout the day. Studies show that clean eating every 2-3 hours actually boosts your metabolism and assists with digestion which also assists with weight loss. Who knew eating could help you lose weight? As I'm writing this, I am munching on strawberries and drinking green juice. Buy your favorite snacks in bulk so you always have them on hand.
Ditch the "water cooler talk."
I am a huge believer in the power of speaking positively. If you want to feel better at work, ditch the drama. If a coworker needs to blow off steam and rant, listen politely, smile and respect that as how they are feeling. Whatever you do, do not participate in bashing another person, project, or client. It might feel great in that moment, but soon after it wears off, you'll be feeling much more drained emotionally.
Give back to your coworkers.
Doing something small for your coworkers can lift everyone's spirits, and in turn, make you feel good. I love to bake, but I don't always love to eat all 12 cupcakes. Occasionally, I bring in baked goods that I have made into the office. It really seems to put an extra skip in everyone's step and I feel great for having done a kindness to the people I spend over 40 hours a week with.
Leave work at work.
At the end of each day I leave myself a to-do list that needs to be addressed as soon as I get into the office. Not only does this help me leave work at work but it also keeps me organized. No need to take up any mental space remembering what I need to do in the morning. I also made the brave decision to delete my work email off of my phone — not everyone can do this, but if you can, try it out for a few weeks and see how you feel. It took me several years, but now I realize there is no emergency that cannot wait until Monday morning at 9am, and as a result I am able to be fully present on the weekends with my family and be thoroughly rested and ready for the week.
What do you do to create a fun, healthy, happy work environment for yourself?