Add Happiness to Your Work Day

Feeling down at work?

If you’re like most people, the answer is yes. At least from time to time.

It’s okay to have bad days once in a while, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn them around.

If you’re having a rough day, here are some ways to get through it and add a little happiness to your day:

1. Give Yourself a Pep Talk

Every morning, stand in front of the mirror and say something like “(Your name), you are awesome. Don’t you ever forget it.” It might sound like a silly thing to do, but science suggests it’s effective for helping you deal with anxieties. It also works mid-day in the bathroom mirror at work, if needed.

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You might’ve heard that meditation helps you relax. But did you know it has loads of other benefits? Even if you do it for only a couple of minutes, meditation boosts your gray matter (the stuff in your brain that leads to happiness, focus and emotional stability), makes you more compassionate and gets your creative juices flowing.


Even if you have to fake it, a smile can still work wonders. Not only will it make you look more approachable, it can ease stress and lift your mood. Just remember to brush your teeth beforehand to keep that smile of yours shining!

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Water doesn’t just replenish your bodily fluids: It also keeps your brain from shrinking due to dehydration and is an instant bad-mood buster. (Hey, hunger isn’t the only thing that makes you cranky, after all.)

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Believe it or not, what you wear can also affect your mood. For example, when you wear a bright color like yellow, your mood brightens too. Don’t worry about whether yellow is “your” color or not — if you’re jumping in joy because of it, you’ll look great anyways!

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You don’t have to pepper your desk with knickknacks. If it’s neat, comfortable and doesn’t require you to dig through layers and layers of papers just to find what you’re looking for, that’s enough to keep the stress away. But don’t make it too neat either — a little clutter here and there can stimulate creativity.

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Unless you (or your coworkers) are allergic to pollen, you’ll want to include flowers in your “Things to Add to Desk” list. Aside from being nice to look at, flowers have been proven to lift your spirits and energy levels when you look at them first thing in the morning. The fresher, the better, but plants like succulents work great, too!

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It’s easy to see only the negative aspects of work, since human brains are wired to think that way. But when you take time to think of the positives instead, and thank whatever higher power you believe in for them, you’ll not only feel better, but also enjoy better health overall.

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If complete silence unnerves you, you can’t go wrong with a pair of headphones and a cool playlist. Aside from being fun to listen to, music also stimulates the production of dopamine, or the “feel good” chemical. Just make sure you pick the right kind of songs for each task!

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It’s a cliché, but it’s true: Laughter is the best medicine. When you watch a funny YouTube video, read an article from The Onion or listen to a good joke, you’re improving your ability to deal with stress, strengthening your immune system and relieving pain. So the next time you feel yourself getting frustrated, turn to YouTube for some funny videos!

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Need something to do? Look around and see if you can help a coworker. They may or may not appreciate the gesture, but either way, doing good for others makes you feel good, too.

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There’s a reason “aromatherapy” is a thing. If you put a few drops of cinnamon, jasmine, lavender, lemon, peppermint or rosemary into a cotton ball and smell it, your mood and productivity get a much-needed boost. You can also share it with coworkers by putting a few drops into a bowl of hot water and placing it nearby in case you guys need to brainstorm.

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Fruits, vegetables, fish and chocolate are some of the foods proven to keep the blues away. On the flip side, anything with alcohol, caffeine and saturated fat is guaranteed to throw your mood off-balance so try to stay away from those as much as possible! If you can’t see cutting coffee from your life entirely, try subbing out one cup for a green tea instead.

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You don’t have to feel guilty about it. In fact, breaks do you more good than harm! When you take even a few minutes to do nothing, you give time for your brain to recover and your boredom to melt away. Try taking a walk or doing something active (instead of checking social media) to get the full benefit!

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If there’s still time left over your lunch break, use it to take a 20-30 minute nap. It won’t make up for your sleep debt, but it can benefit your brain the same way breaks do. As long as you set an alarm clock to help you wake up, dozing off for the rest of the day won’t be a problem.

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…within limits, of course. If your company doesn’t have a rule against them, you can bring adult coloring books, clay dough, Lego blocks and other things that exercise your creativity. You can also play some of 50 online games that are safe for work, but still fun.

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This may sound counterintuitive, since work is probably your source of frustration in the first place. When you try to power through work anyway, it can actually make you happier in the long run. After all, finishing more work today means fewer tasks tomorrow.

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If you can’t follow that last tip, don’t beat yourself up for it. Telling yourself things like “I’m so lazy” or “What’s wrong with me?” may seem like a good way to motivate yourself, but they usually end up having the opposite effect. It’s one thing to acknowledge your shortcomings, and another to allow them to paralyze you into inaction.

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We get by with a little help from our friends…

You may not be on a game show, but your friends can still help! If you’re feeling particularly frustrated or upset, take a few minutes to call a close friend. Try to avoid talking about work. though. Instead, take the time to catch up or make plans to see each other soon. Just talking to someone close will help you feel happier and less stressed.

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If you still feel bad even after doing all the above, there’s probably an underlying reason. What is it that made you really upset? Is it the work itself, the salary or the people around you?

Dig deep, or tell someone else about it. It might give you a perspective you’ve never considered before.

If your problem persists, no matter what you try, you may want to consider different options.

Jobs are like relationships. Sometimes, no matter what you do, things just won’t go the way you need them to. If you’re sure the job is the problem, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better, ask yourself: “Is this job worth everything I’ve been through so far?” Depending on how you view the answer, a change may be necessary.


What cheers you up on a bad day? We want to hear! Share your tips for turning your bad day around in the comments!

And be sure to subscribe to the Punched Clocks newsletter for more happiness tips!

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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