Do you find yourself unable to focus at work sometimes? Do you feel lethargic even though you’ve had plenty of rest? Most of us will spend a large part of our adult lives working, so taking care of yourself both mentally and physically whilst at work, can have a huge impact on your overall health and wellbeing. There are many simple and effective ways that you can improve your wellbeing at work, with the added bonus that improving your wellbeing can also improve your performance at work. Stay positive and follow these steps for a happier work life and an improved state of mental wellbeing.
Sometimes it's what you do outside of work that affects how you feel and how you perform, when at work. Adopting a regular exercise regime is imperative to your mental and physical wellbeing. Visit the gym, take a walk, do a quick workout in the park at lunch or even book a session with a personal trainer – all these activities have been proven to improve your health, lift your mental performancea and even make you happier and/or more resilient work. But why does exercise have such a big impact on our overall wellness? Often it can be because exercise is goal orientated and humans derive both motivation and satsifaction from goal orientated behaviour. You could say it is because even subsconsiously we all want to do things purpose and meaning, and working towards a physical goal through exercise not only can help keep you focused and on track but also satisfies our desire for goal orientated behaviour.
A personal trainer can help with this by setting a goal for you and devising steps for you to reach it. The regular monitoring provided by a personal trainer also keeps you on track. If you don’t have the time or money for a personal trainer, don’t stress. Download some example workouts from the internet or build your own program to work out to in your own time. Having a structured set of exercises makes it easier to keep your eyes on the prize and maintain your focus while working out, thus making it more likely you will actually complete them.
Everyone has great intentions when it comes to exercising, but we often fail in the execution. Having a program to follow, whether from an app, a personal trainer, or one of your own design will make it much more likely that you will follow through with your intentions.
Keep in mind that exercise also releases endorphins and lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Endorphins make you happy! So if you have a bad day, you can exercise the bad mood into a good one and hopefully navigate the rest of the workday with a both a clearer mind, healthier body and happier outlook.
Eat well to live well
Nutrition affects your every thought and function. Take a moment to analyse what you’re eating. Are you spacing your meals out? Are you eating enough? Are you skipping breakfast? As they say, you are what you eat. We spend so much of our lives at work but we often neglect our eating habits once we step into the workplace. Adopting (mainly) healthy eating habits at work, can not only have a huge impact on your health and appearances, but also goes a long way to helping you focus and concentrate better when at work. For example, snacking on sugary foods throughout the day provide temporary energy bursts (and insulin spikes) that are inevitably followed by crashes as the energy is expended quickly. If you're looking for snacks whilst at work, consider consider swapping unhealthy options for nutritious snacks like fruit, berries, nuts, and seeds that have a slower energy release.
The right choice of carbohydrates can also have an impact on cognitive functioning. Swapping white potatoes, which are a fast burning carb, to a nutrient-dense, slow-burning carb such as sweet potatoes will better nourish your body and help you feel full longer. Other slow digesting carbs you can choose are brown rice, oats, whole grains, and whole-wheat spaghetti. For breakfast, ditch the toast and jam and opt for oats and a perhaps a dollop of honey! A protein-packed, healthy breakfast, keeps your brain happy and your energy levels up, so you are ready to launch into the day ahead.
Try a Mindfulness App
You may think mindfulness isn’t your “thing”, but before you’re too quick to judge, try one out, as not only can they make you feel more calm, focused and relaxed, they can also help you stress a little less and enjoy the present moment a little more.
There are some excellent mindfulness apps currently available! The Happier app is inspired by scientific research that shows how gratitude, mindfulness, and staying connected to people you care about all help to create the foundation for a happier and healthier life. It tries to encourage you to enjoy sharing small moments of gratitude and to inspire you to make your own wellbeing a priority.
Enso is another great app for those who might already know what they are doing when it comes to mindfulness and meditation but need a bit of help with timers and bells to guide their practice. It is easy to customise so you can create a structure and a program based around your own experience and preferences. It doesn't have guided exercises but is a simple and enjoyable tool for those who know what they are doing.
Whilst not a traditional mindfulness app per se, the MindRazr App is more of a complete health, wellbeing and music app that allows you to create customised wellbeing “sessions” that can combine either guided mindfulness or fitness exercises with your favourite music (meaning you can do mindfulness to Mozart or Metallica if that’s what floats your boat).
If you’ve found it difficult to “get into” mindfulness and/or build a habit, MindRazr uses your music listening habits to make it easier to incorporate the exercises into your normal daily routine. For the mindfulness based exercises it uses your favourite music as the focus of the exercise, which has the added benefit of training you to really immerse yourself in your favourite music, just like you used to before the world got in the way. MindRazr is like a personal trainer and DJ, for your for both your mind and body, and has a wide range of exercises spanning stress management, relaxation, fitness workouts, changing eating habits and even sleeping better.
Be Mindful at Work
If your days are busy and chaotic, and plugging in to a mindfulness app at work won’t go down well with the boss, you can even try using these two simple exercises to help clear your mind and find some much-needed calm amidst the chaos of a hectic workday.
Select an object in your immediate environment and focus on it for a minute or two. This can be anything you want, from a desk plant/flower to a beautiful image or photo displaying a nature image or setting. Focus on it fully and analyse the object almost like you are a scientist, and completely immerse yourself in the details of the object that you wouldn’t normally notice.
Doing this for a few minutes can go a long way to calming the mind down and bring yourself into a settled but focused, state of mind. Training your skills of focus and attention can not only help with your performance at work, but it can also help to stop you mind wandering, a deeply ingrained and subconscious habit which is one of the main precursors to stress. Finding joy in the details of the mundane through increased awarness and equanimity, can help you to build a greater appreciation for the present moment.
There are so many ways you can enjoy mindful listening at work. The idea behind it is to fully immerse yourself and train your focus on the sound of your choice, be it the wind blowing, the sound of birds in the distance, or even a favourite song, or a relaxation track. The aim is to simply listen to it like it like your life depended on it, without judgement, just trying to notice all the details and nuances you can hear and losing yourself in the sound.
Be positive. be grateful .
Happiness is a state of mind. No matter where you are or who you’re with, your mindset can have a huge impact on your wellbeing and overall happiness. At work, we often think the grass is greener on the other side, but the power of gratitude goes a long way. Try being grateful for your job and the money it provides so you can live. When you become more aware of the good things that happen and the things you are grateful for, take a moment to really recognise and savour that feeling of happiness or gratitude. Taking a few seconds to acknolwedge that feeling of happiness or gratitude is like hitting "save" on your computer. It helps embed the memory and feeling in your brain and goes a long way to building a more positive outlook, which in turn is one of the main precursors of...feeling happy.
“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are, it solely relies on what you think.” – Buddha
Try to surround yourself with positive things in all areas of your life. Photos of your family, your best friends, or your pet are good examples. Change your computer wallpaper to a positive affirmation you can read or an inspiring location. Little reminders of all that is great and good in the world will help keep you positively focused and happy, again contributing to your wellbeing at work.
Optimising your wellbeing at work will not only improve your performance at work but can help improve your overall wellbeing and happiness. By investing a little extra time in yourself and in your personal growth, you can use your workday to help you appreciate the many good things in your life and help give you the focus, resilience and motivation to try change those things that perhaps aren't so good for you. There is never a bad time to start investing in your mental and physical wellbeing, and it can only take relatively minor changes to your daily habits, and outlook, to help you become just that little bit healtier and happier.