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Have a good day at work – every day

Blog post | 21 Jan 2019

Back at work? If so, the memory of the Christmas break is probably fading fast. Eating breakfast when you feel like it and staying at the beach till sundown might be, once again, confined to the weekend. 

But you can create a sense of joy and calm in your work life too by following any of these tips (try 1 or 2 at a time). Recommended by the Black Dog Institute, they might help make 2019 your best, most stress-free year yet.   

1. Set your priorities

Keep a list of achievable priorities and tick them off as you go. They don’t have to be all work-related — include your friends and family as priorities and make time for these relationships

2. Go easy on yourself

Try not to dwell on past mistakes and let guilt take over. It provides little to no benefit. Learn to forgive yourself and try to find techniques that will pull you out of the slump when you find yourself thinking regretful thoughts. 

3. Check your perception

Sometimes we can misinterpret things that are said to us and can be a bit oversensitive to what we imagine the person was implying. Try giving people the benefit of the doubt and ask a trusted friend or colleague for their take on what was said. 

4. Identify and use your strengths

Consider your personal strengths and how you might best use them. Are you a leader, playful, fair, curious or original? Do you love learning? Are you genuine? Are you good at teamwork? If you’re not sure, you can take an online questionnaire here

5. Go with the ‘flow’

‘Flow’ is the feeling you get when you’re so absorbed in an activity that it brings joy and time passes quickly. It sparks creativity and problems seem to disappear. To achieve a sense of flow at work, look for challenging, enjoyable tasks that require skill; research shows it makes people feel happier, more creative, satisfied and better able to concentrate 

6. Keep a gratitude journal

Dedicate just 5 minutes every day to writing down 3 things that went well and why. This helps increase mental wellbeing in a lasting way. 

7. Take your time

Where possible, don’t let people rush you — frenzied activity can lead to errors and stress. Ask for time to orientate yourself with the situation. At work, you can politely ask colleagues to wait until you’ve finished a task or thinking through something before you give them your attention. Arrive at appointments early, composed and calm, having made allowances for unexpected hold-ups. 

8. Cut down on coffee and wine

Some people think they need to start their day with stimulants (e.g. coffee) and end the day with alcohol or sedatives (e.g. sleeping pills), but they only offer temporary relief and don’t solve any problems. They can create more long-term physical and mental health problems. If this applies to you, find a healthier way to achieve the effect you’re looking for. 

9. Thank a mentor

Write a letter of thanks to someone who has influenced your life in a positive way, such as a teacher or grandparent. You could visit the person and read the letter to them. People who do this are measurably happier for more than a month. 

10. Just say ‘no’

Think carefully before you commit to something you’ve been asked to do. Often people take on tasks merely to feel accepted by others. Practise saying ‘no’ to requests that are unreasonable or are more than you can handle at the time, rather than dealing with any potential stress or regrets afterwards. Ask yourself if you rely on the approval of others and talk this over with someone you trust. 

Where to seek help 

  • To learn more about mental health, visit the Black Dog Institute.
  • If you need immediate support and advice, contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 to speak with a trained mental health professional.
  • Reachout.com is a great resource for young people wanting tools and tips to boost their mental wellbeing.
  • Whether you’re an employer or an employee, visit Heads Up for ways to make your workplace healthy and mentally safe.
  • If you’re not sure where to go for help with mental health, click here.

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