ere at Happy, we are truly a happy bunch! We are super proud of our working environment, our fellow Happies and the opportunities we get to work with a huge variety of fantastic clients that enable us to create and grow every day.
However, we are aware that when working, things can eat into your happiness. A curt email, an overload of last minute jobs, a bad night’s sleep that creeps up on you mid-afternoon; they can all turn a rather fine day into one that makes you want to get home, run a bath and forget about it all.
This year, for #mentalhealthawarenessweek, the Mental Health Foundation are focusing on the subject of “Stress – how are we coping?”. The charity explains that,
Stress is not a mental health problem itself. The stress response is a survival strategy to keep us safe. It was a vital adaption when looking to survive being eaten on the savannah.
Humans won the evolutionary game of thrones because when we sensed threat or danger, our amygdala (the part of our brain controlling emotions like fear and anxiety) switched on like a light. When that happens, the brain shuts down any unnecessary functions and hormones like cortisol flood the blood with glucose, giving a power surge to the body’s muscles to respond in two ways; flight or fight.
The social scientist Michael Marmot describes stress as what happens when we can't control what is happening to us. And today our brain cannot distinguish between a lion’s menacing presence and the affront of a rude person who pushes past you in the queue. The physiological response is the same. Many of us are triggering our stress response repeatedly every day – day in, day out.
It leads to what the experts call the allostatic overload. Instead of out-witting the lion and then retreating to a nearby cave, repeated stressful events is like being chased all day by a lion on repeat. Sound like one of your days? It turns out that this is very bad for us. It makes us sick.
Source Mental Health Foundation
Stress is good for us all in small doses. It helps us get those projects complete that are close to deadline and can pull out all sorts of creativeness when asked to do time-sensitive reactive work. But those positive bursts of stress can spiral into something that starts to affect our focus, enjoyment and mental wellbeing when it becomes too regular or for prolonged periods of time.
Here at Happy we have a culture of trust and know that we can speak up about things, that may be taking away from our happiness, if we need to.
Here are our little top tips for keeping ‘happy’ at work,
• Use your breath. If something irritates you or winds you up, simply take time to take some deep breaths, ideally stepping away from your desk and making a cuppa or some time out. Even just taking 30 seconds to stare out of the window and breathe deeply can help.
• Talk to colleagues. Most of us are lucky to have at least one person at work that we can discuss work things that are bugging us, openly and honestly (this is definitely true at Happy HQ and it really helps knowing we can chat things through with members of the team.) It may be your next door neighbour, or your work wife you can grab lunch with. It is just good to get it off your chest to someone who understands what you do/ the structure of the organisation/ the sector you work in and can offer advice, empathy or even just a sounding board.
• Put everything into perspective. We may spend more awake time in the office than our homes some weeks, but try and strive every day to get the clichéd but true, work-life balance. Make sure you fill the hours outside of work with things that make you happy so you will be more resilient when things don’t go as planned when at your desk. Our weekly Happy High 5's ensure that we celebrate our wins; motivating and acknowledging each other.
• Take a real break. It is easy to mask eating lunch at your desk as a break. Here at Happy we go on regular brisk walks at lunch time (and encourage each other to do so - accountability!) to make sure we get a proper break from our screens and the office. All that fresh air, casual chat and getting the heart rate increasing really does wonders for happiness and afternoon production levels!
If you find you would like more information on managing stress, here are some fantastic resources for you to explore;
We spend around 1/3 of our waking hours at work so we need to ensure that we are happy there. At Happy, it helps that we hold each other accountable for things like lunchtime walks, celebrating our successes and chatting about things that may be playing on our minds
It is so important to be in an environment where you can be authentic, true to yourself and thrive; we are very proud that we have created that at Happy.