You’re having a crappy day at work. Nothing particularly bad has happened: you can’t manage to raise yourself up and get back in the swing of things.
If there’s a root, underlying cause to your disgruntled mood, then you need to deal with it. But sometimes there isn’t; it’s just that everything sucks and you’re just not in the right frame of mind to get creative.
So what can you do? In this post, we outline some practical strategies for boosting your mood and getting yourself back on track.
1. Force a smile
For the sake of convenience, we usually refer to body and mind as being separate entities. But in truth, they’re indelibly entwined and affect each other in powerful ways. For example, the sheer physical act of smiling releases chemicals called endorphins that act as natural antidepressants – even if you're purposely faking it. It may seem silly but try it: it does work.
Note, however, that a genuine smile (known as a Duchenne smile) uses a different set of muscles than a fake smile, and is, therefore, more effective in creating mood-enhancing chemicals. So if there’s a chance that a funny video or The Daily Mash will force you to crack a real grin, that’s an even better option.
2. Desk yoga
The powerful effects your body can have on your mind are not limited to smiling: the link between exercise and positive mental health is well documented. And while few of us have an actual gym at work to help bend and stretch our troubles away, there is a halfway house in the form of desk yoga.
You’ll find seven yoga poses you can do in the office in this post. And while again, you might feel a little silly, the benefits will be immediate and stress-relieving.
3. Stand up
Have you ever noticed how lazy you feel during long, boring meetings held in bland, airless and featureless offices? Why not suggest that you spend the whole meeting standing up?
It might sound strange, but it’s a tried-and-tested way of ensuring that people taking part in meetings are more energised and reach decisions more quickly. If you don’t believe us, read what Richard Branson has to say on the subject.
4. Show appreciation for others
When was the last time a manager said "Well done" and paid you a compliment about some work you’d done? Sadly this rarely happens in an office environment, and it’s easy to feel under-appreciated and hard done by as a result.
But ask yourself this: are you guilt-free on this subject yourself? Is there a co-worker or subordinate in your workplace you should show your appreciation for? Because slapping someone on the back and congratulating them on a job well done will improve your mood as well.
5. Crank out some music
If you’re allowed to play music through headphones at your office, then this can be a great way to blow away the cobwebs and put yourself in a better mood (as well as drowning background chatter and helping you focus on your work).
But of course, it has to be the right music; a doomy murder ballad by Nick Cave, however brilliant, is unlikely to do the trick. So cast away any thoughts of street cred, and dig out those cheesy ‘guilty pleasure’ tracks that can’t help put a smile on your face and get your toes tapping.
You know the ones we mean. And if you invest in some decent headphones, with minimal sound leakage, no one ever needs to know.
6. Buy some plants
However much we think we’ve evolved since the hunter-gather days, our bodies and minds still work in the same way, and a splash of lush green plant life is an easy way to boost our mood. Our brains can't help but respond positively to a healthy-looking, natural environment; they've been programmed by millions of years' evolution to do so.
What’s more, the task of tending and caring for it gives us a sense of fulfilment that no spreadsheet can ever provide, as well as giving us another legitimate reason to take a regular break from the screen and de-stress a little.
7. Reorganise your workspace
If you have a messy workspace, there can be no better therapy than to tidy it up and reorganise it to work better. After all, your work as a designer is all about making things aesthetically pleasing and functionally streamlined. If you don’t apply those same skills to your workspace, you’re a fool.
Also, the very process of doing so can help to lighten your mood. As the saying goes, ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’. Which is another way of saying that being proactive and reordering things that are directly under your control helps you deal mentally with the stress of things that aren't?