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How to be happier at work – Stylist Magazine

Brits are not feeling enthused about work right now. How can we change the way we feel about our jobs?   
How happy are you at work? Given stagnant wages, the blurring of the professional and the personal and rising levels of burnout, the answer might well be: “Not very.” According to research by PR agency Lem-uhn, searches for ‘how to be happy at work’ have increased 105% in the past three years.
And it’s not that surprising given that the UK workforce is one of the least enthusiastic and engaged with their jobs compared to the rest of Europe.  Just 9% of UK workers surveyed for consulting company Gallup’s ’State Of The Global Workforce’ report felt enthused by their work and workplace in 2022, well below the European average of 14%.
It’s no wonder we’re seeing a Great Resignation (read: great exhaustion), as people quit their jobs in droves in an attempt to take back control. But, let’s be honest, times are tough enough during a cost of living crisis, and most of us can’t afford to pack it all in and say goodbye to the drudgeries of work. 
But there are things we can do to mitigate the burden of a dull and uninspiring work life. We spoke to some wellbeing experts to find out how. 
Your peers are the people you probably see more than your family, so it’s worth investing your time in them, says business psychologist Danielle Haig. “By spending time talking, interacting and being friends with those around you, it will encourage a happier and more supportive environment. We know that positive social interaction also helps us manage our stress levels, so it’s an easy-win situation for everyone.”
This might involve an after-work activity, such as going for drinks or even organising some weekend fun. When the people you work with become friends, going or logging into work becomes a bit easier.
Haig adds that while we can’t completely overhaul work culture, we can change our personal attitudes to it. She says: “Make sure you keep strong boundaries around your time and emotions. With hybrid working looking like it’s here to stay, and overworking on the increase, we need to look after our mental health to improve happiness. 
“If you’re not commuting, have a commute anyway with a walk around outside before and after work. Set an automatic out of office on your email each night to help maintain your boundaries. Wearing ‘work clothes’ during the working day helps provide psychological boundaries too.”
Sometimes the reason for not engaging with work is that it feels tedious or meaningless. As humans, we’re hardwired for pleasure and satisfaction, which is hard to experience when you’re forced to do repetitive tasks that don’t challenge you. So if you can, go out of your comfort zone, says Nicola Hemmings, workplace scientist at Koa Health, a digital mental healthcare provider.
She says: “It helps to better understand happiness and the forms it takes in order to build these environments. Happiness researcher Martin Seligman talks of types of happiness we can create for ourselves.
“One of these is understanding our strengths (things that energise us) and our values (things that help guide us to make decisions that matter) and using them in our work.” 
Similar to point three, having some meaning in your work can reduce the disengagement you feel towards work sometimes. Ros Jones, from the Business Wellbeing Guide, says: “One tip I would give to achieve happiness at work would be making opportunities for continuous learning and goal achievement. 
“We need to have a sense of fulfilment and purpose in what we do, and having a goal or learning something new can give us that.”
While it might not be down to the individual to change their workplace culture, there may be small things you can do to shift how pleasant it is. If you don’t have this opportunity then there is also power in our collective demands. Your boss might be able to ignore one voice, but it’s hard to ignore a whole group. 
Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don’t miss out on the conversation.
Image credits: Getty
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