Originally published on deliveringhappiness.com, where I blog about company culture and personal happiness.
Fall is my absolute favorite season, but along with the gorgeous foliage and pumpkin spice lattes, it also seems to always bring an uptick in my work load. Deadlines become both more pressing and more voluminous, and my stress level rises in response. Weeks seem to get longer as the days grow shorter, and I find myself really stretching to maintain my generally positive demeanor… usually by about 3pm on Thursday.
Over the years, in an attempt to preserve my happiness, I developed a few simple tricks for those super-tough weeks at work:
If you know you’re going to have a rough week in the office, plan ahead and bring in a snack on Wednesday or Thursday. You don’t even have to bake anything, unless you want to! I’ve never seen a group of adults act so childlike and exuberant as when I dumped a bag of individually packaged Nerds, Gobstoppers, and Laffy Taffy out onto our conference table. That candy lasted the rest of the week, and was a bright, happy spark amid stress and exhaustion.
Oftentimes I come home from work drained and exhausted, even if I only worked until 5pm. A 15 minute power nap before diving into the demands of family, dinner, chores, and all of the other things that fill your after work hours can give you just the boost you need to actually enjoy the rest of your day. Kids can diminish your nap-taking potential but try trading off with your spouse, or if your kids are old enough, this is one time I’d take advantage of the distractive power of sugary snacks and television. Set an alarm so you don’t sleep too long, and enjoy your peace and quiet. You’ve earned it!
Wash your Face
OK, stop laughing, I’m serious about this one. The ladies out there will back me up that nothing feels better at the end of a long day (or late night) than to come home and wash off that day’s makeup. I want you men to give it a try too! Now, you don’t have to wear the makeup for this to work… over the course of any day we touch our faces half a million times, we sweat, we accumulate varying degrees of dirt and grime. So come home, and wash your face, and tell me if you don’t feel re-energized and happier!
Break your Patterns
Do you each lunch in the office at the same time every day? Do you have the same salad, or hit up the same down-the-street diner? Lots of stuff happens during the workday that we can’t control the timing of, but I challenge you to change up the things you can control. Eat lunch an hour earlier, or later, or bring in a small meal for early on in the day, and a tasty dessert for the afternoon. Do you regularly hit up your office’s gym, or do a post lunch walk around the parking lot? Try using that activity to break up you afternoon, or jump start your morning instead. Think creatively for out-of-the-box things you can do to change up your workday routine. (Without getting in trouble with your boss!)
Set Aside Time for your Non-Work Hobbies
Even after taking that revitalizing nap, you might not feel like diving back into that quilt you’re making, DIY project, automotive upgrade, or sporting event. Do it anyway. You consider these activities hobbies because you ENJOY doing them, but it’s so easy after a long work day to think of them as just more work. Make a deal with yourself: Work on whatever hobby project you have going on for just ten minutes, and then give yourself the option of going back to the couch. Chances are that once you get started you’ll keep going, and you’ll enjoy your evening more than you would have otherwise.