Picture this: Your office is actually a place you look forward to going to every day.
It would be beneficial to feel this way. Hating your workplace can be incredibly draining and can even contribute to a host of health problems, from gaining weight and losing sleep to interfering with your personal relationships.
Of course, it can be easy to feel excited about heading to work each day if you’re pursuing a vocation you truly love. But most of us will face mixed feelings about our jobs from time to time. When that happens, there are a few things you can do to get a bit more out of your workplace, according to research.
Below are a few hacks that will help you improve your day-to-day work life and make your office a happier place for you:
1. Make friends at work.
You might head to work just to get your job done and go home, but research shows that lingering a bit longer to chit-chat with coworkers and clients can have a huge payoff.
Research shows people who create meaningful connections at work display an increase in passion and productivity. They are also less likely to quit their jobs and there is research to support that people with stronger social ties are not only happier, but may have stronger immune systems.
Even if you are struggling to connect with the folks on your team, you can still find your friends in other departments, suggests Vince Passarelli, a clinical psychologist in New York City.
“Find and keep the people that you trust around you,” Passarelli told The Huffington Post. But, as with any friendship, be sure to maintain healthy boundaries, he advised.
Bottom line: Take your conversation off chat and email to find some common ground with your coworkers. You might find you have a fellow Westworld fan theorist just a few seats away.
2. Build a desk for success.
“Just like you decorate your apartment or home, create a desk space that feels like home to you,” Rachel Brown, co-founder of The Wellness Project NYC, told HuffPost.
Brown suggests bringing in pictures of loved ones and trinkets so it feels like a personal space. You can also take it a step further and arrange your desk so it is primed for productivity and your health. At the very least, try buying a live plant or two. A strong body of research shows that greenery can make employees more attentive and reduce stress.
3. Schedule a walking meeting.
If a particular problem has you stumped, consider asking a colleague to walk and talk it out. Walking can boost creative thinking, according to researchers at Stanford University. You might come up with an out-of-the-box solution and reap a few other perks in the process.
“A walking break also helps you get vitamin D and sunlight which helps your circadian rhythm. You’ll sleep better,” Brown said. And studies show that a walk can lift your mood, even when you think it won’t.
4. Have an empathetic mindset.
One of the best tools to foster a positive work environment is to cultivate compassion for each person you interact with while at work, according to Brown.
“I know it sounds a little kumbaya, but especially when you are feeling down about your job, it’s one of the best ways you can change your perspective,” she advised.
This works in situations where you might have a really difficult client. Brown suggests pondering questions like, “What is their boss asking of them?” By thinking about their needs and how you can meet them, you can shift from a reactive to an empowered mindset at your job.
5. Pack a lunch you enjoy.
Chowing down on a sad desk salad by your computer screen really is quite, well, sad if you don’t actually want to eat it.
“Bringing a lunch you look forward to … also helps if you are really, really busy at work,” Brown said. “If you don’t have time to pick something up, you’re going to start eating what’s lying around at the office.” That could be the vending machine, scraps from a meeting… you know how it goes.
Set aside time each evening to pack a meal you’re thrilled about, such as last night’s leftovers or these delicious stuffed pita pockets. And, if you can, try to steal some time for a true lunch break. There is no shortage to the health benefits of actually stepping away from your monitor for a bit. (For example, when you stop what you’re doing to eat, you may actually consume less food.)
6. Take good care of yourself.
Above all else, make sure to prioritize yourself and your needs.
“The big thing to remember is that we’re the same people inside of work as we are outside of work,” Brown said. People have a tendency to be one person inside the workplace, only to feel like themselves again in their personal lives, which can take a toll, she stressed.
“In actuality you are just one person,” she said. “Take breaks. Eat healthy food. What would generally make you feel better? Those are the things you need to do.”
Deeper friendships, an actual lunch break and a walk around the block? Bring on the weekday.