Be Happier and Healthier at Work: 10 Strategies to Try
More than half of Americans (52 percent) say they are dissatisfied with their jobs, according to the annual Conference Board job satisfaction survey. But it's not the work that makes us unhappy – it's how we deal with it while we're there.
Boredom, perfectionism, anxiety and impatience make us hate what we do, according to authors Brant Secunda (a healer within Shamanism, a spiritual practice) and world champion Ironman Mark Allen. In their new book, “Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You” (BenBella Books, 2010), Secunda and Allen (who were not involved in the study) offers tips on how to make work a little less stressful.
Stand up to your office chair
It's great that you have the newest ergonomic chair. But if you sit in it all day, you'll reduce the amount of fat-burning enzyme called lipoprotein lipase by a whopping 94 percent. To keep this enzyme active and burning fat requires only 30 minutes a day of standing up to read, to talk on the phone, or to consult with a co-worker.
Embrace the power of repetition
If you struggle with boredom from doing the same activities over and over at work, here's a trick that helps top athletes train every day for hours at a time. Embrace the repetition. Start to see chipping away at the same tasks day after day as powerful ways to reach your financial and professional goals. This is similar to the way our ancestors could plant an entire hillside with corn by hand — one kernel at a time — year after year.
Brush away impatience and frustration
When you're impatient with a task that's taking too long, or frustrated with a complication such as a technology glitch, here's a simple way to quickly reset your workplace mood. Think of whatever you are doing at that moment -- say, consulting the user's guide for your computer -- as your top priority instead of the means to an end.
Change your routine to prevent monotony
Like the idea of cross training for athletes, workers can stay mentally fit by mixing up the routine. If you work 9 to 5, try working 8 to 4. If you always check your e-mail first thing in the morning, do something else for the first hour. Rearrange your office. Try making calls instead of e-mailing.
Stop procrastinating for five minutes
Do you put off working on large projects or tasks as the deadline gets closer, and then eat yourself up with worry at night obsessing about them? Try this. Commit to working on it for just five minutes. That's it. Once you start, you might find it's not that bad. But even if it is, it will be easier to complete if you've been chipping away at it for five minutes a day.
Slow down to get faster
Fitness scientists know that working out at a comfortable level is more beneficial for your health than pushing through at top speed or effort. You can apply this principle to your workplace activity as well. If you consciously slow down, take time to think things through, finish one task completely before going to the next — perhaps even ignore incoming calls and e-mails temporarily — you'll find that your productivity will increase along with your happiness .
Take time to feed and water yourself
Don't skip breakfast. And eat small healthy snacks every couple of hours, such as fruit, yogurt, almonds, carrots, nut butter sandwiches, dark chocolate and soup. Keep a liter of water on your desk and sip it all day long. Watch how energized you feel -- especially mid-afternoon, the time you normally crave a sweet and some coffee.
Weight lift for your soul
"Weight lifting for the soul" is giving up negative thoughts that weigh you down. The next time a negative thought comes into your mind, force yourself to restate it to yourself in a positive way. So, "This is too hard" becomes "I have all it takes to make it through." Or, "this is a waste of time" becomes "What can I learn right now?"
Look at the now
Are you a perfectionist? Do you beat yourself up for not doing things as masterfully as you think you should? Try this: Ask yourself if you are doing the best you can right now with everything going on in your life. Instead of focusing on absolute perfection, make the goal to give the best you can in the moment, even if you know on another day it might be better.
Keep making deposits
View your physical, emotional and spiritual health as a bank account that should always be tended to. Being healthy goes hand in hand with being happy -- in and outside of work. Every day you are sedentary, eat bad food or indulge in negative thinking counts as a withdrawal. Every day you eat well, get enough sleep, stay hydrated, exercise and are optimistic counts as a deposit.
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