We all want a job that feels positive and engaging. Who doesn’t dream of waking up on a Monday morning excited to go to work? Applying positive psychology at work can help you to feel happier and more fulfilled in your workplace.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of how and why people thrive, focusing on both individual and societal wellbeing. It brings together the virtues of science – replication, controlled studies, and peer review (to name a few) – with the aim of learning how to improve quality of life.

Positive Psychology explores the science behind positive emotions, which are linked with the benefits of improved health, wellbeing, longevity, and a greater quality of life. Practising Positive Psychology at work can help to improve productivity, performance and engagement.

Your choices and attitudes have a significant impact on your happiness. So, how do you cultivate and maintain a state of positivity and wellbeing in the workplace? These five tips can help you apply Positive Psychology at work.

1. Practice gratitude

People who practice gratitude regularly experience more positive emotions, feel more alive and sleep better. Practising gratitude regularly also helps lift your spirits while you’re at work, which not only gives you a more positive outlook, but also goes a long way in improving your productivity and performance. Plus, you’ll beat those Monday blues! 

Keeping a gratitude journal is one way to do this, but you can also show more gratitude in your day-to-day life by talking about the best parts of your day at the dinner table each night, complimenting your colleagues, or by calling a friend to let them know you’re thinking of them. 

2. Smile more

This one may seem a little too obvious. But really, the simple act of smiling can go a long way in shifting your mood from negative to positive. Even a big, cheesy fake smile can improve your mood instantly.  

Since smiling is contagious, you can also lift the moods of those around you just by smiling more. Smiling not only increases happiness and emotional wellbeing but it also reduces stress, makes you more likable, makes you appear more competent, and is associated with having more fulfilling relationships. 

So, next time you’re having a bad day at work, go to the bathroom, look in the mirror, and give yourself a big cheesy smile. It’ll feel silly, but that’s the point! Give it a go and see how it makes you feel. 

3. Move your body

Moving increases oxygen and blood circulation throughout the body, including in the brain. Improved blood circulation in the brain translates to elevated mood and increased cognitive function.

Simply getting up from your desk regularly to move around and have a stretch will help you improve your mood and get you thinking more clearly. If you’ve got the time, why not take a walk in your lunch break to really get those endorphins flowing?

4. Practice deep breathing

It’s common to face stress at work from time to time. Whether you’re dealing with tight deadlines, unhappy clients, difficult co-workers or any other day-to-day work stress, it can be helpful to practice deep breathing to help you feel calmer and more focused.

Deep breathing has a number of cognitive benefits and can also help to reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, and insomnia, and can even lower your blood pressure.

Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique! Close your lips and inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of eight. This completes one cycle. Repeat the cycle four to eight times, at least twice a day, and take note of how it makes you feel.

5. Label your emotions

Did you know that noticing and naming your emotions can help you reduce their intensity? According to Psychologist Dr David Rock, “when you experience significant internal tension and anxiety, you can reduce stress by up to 50% by simply noticing and naming your state.”

When difficult emotions arise, allow yourself to feel the emotion, but take a moment to stop and recognise exactly what it is that you’re feeling. The part of the brain that can label or name an emotion is the same part that ‘feels’ the emotion. Labelling is proven to reduce intensity. Just saying “I feel angry” actually makes you feel less angry.

Another thing to note is you should feel your emotions, rather than identify with them. So, rather than saying ‘I am stressed’, say ‘I feel stressed’.

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