Wellbeing – Can we be happier in work?

By Sally Evans

Here are 5 tips to improve your wellbeing in work 

There is more than a growing recognition now of the importance of wellbeing (or the science of happiness), both in and out of work. Most of us know that we should be taking care of ourselves and others, but where to start?

Broadly speaking, ‘wellbeing’ relates to the way in which we perceive our lives, whether or not we feel good about ourselves and the choices we are making.

There is a lot of scientific evidence now which proves that higher wellbeing can lead to greater life satisfaction and that has an impact on our working life and our relationships too. So, any business that strives to support improvements in wellbeing should be encouraged, but really the changes are all within our own hands.

The science of wellbeing suggests that as well as benefitting from more positive emotion (good feelings), we should also seek out activities that are meaningful, engaging and which help us feel competent and allow for autonomy in our work roles. Importantly resilience also contributes to our wellbeing and this is an ability than can be developed with the right support. If we are finding things a little tough, be clear we weren’t born resilient; it’s a skill that can be learned.

Also, the inability to relax and enjoy life (particularly outside of work) can contribute to stress and this isn’t good for anyone. So, what can we do to improve our wellbeing?

Making small improvements to our wellbeing can reduce mental health problems such as depression and can really help us all flourish. If you spend the day at work, here are some practical tips for increasing our wellbeing whilst you are there –

Give: People who help others, consistently report higher feelings of positivity and wellbeing than those who do not. Small acts of kindness can also improve the wellbeing of the person you help and anyone who observes you being kind. So, do someone a favour; buy someone a snack; ask an anxious or stressed colleague what you can do to help; volunteer and encourage others to do so; get involved in fundraising; aim to do one kind thing each day. 

Keep learning:Learning something new in the workplace can improve your motivation and boost your self-esteem as well as adding to your skill set, so stay curious! You could ask to job shadow someone else or set up a new lunchtime language class or ask a colleague to share their outside interests at lunchtime – what can you learn; read a new book.

Be Active: Many of us sit down all day - did you know sitting is the new smoking! Go for a walk at lunchtime; always take the stairs; seek out likeminded colleagues for a lunchtime class; suggest a walking meeting (the fresh air makes us more creative!).

Take Notice: Sitting at the same desk space all day you may think it could limit your ability to be mindful, but it needn’t. Buy a plant and watch it change daily; notice how your colleagues are feeling or acting; notice your own moods and how they may be impacting on others; go somewhere new in your lunchbreak. Be mindful and notice the seasons. Relish this moment.

Connect: Slow down. Feeling valued and connected with others has significant positive effects on our wellbeing. Healthy relationships are beneficial to both our physical and mental health and isolation just aggravates existing conditions. In work we could take lunch with a colleague; really listen when you ask someone about their weekend; ask your colleagues about their outside interests and get to know them better.

These ideas for improving your subjective wellbeing (or happiness!), are scientifically proven to make a difference. How many of them do you subscribe to? Go on, work on your new 5 a day today!

Sally is the Founder of LifeBuddy. She is an Organisational Development consultant and is a Practitioner with the Association for Business Psychology.