Five tips to improve your emotional health
You've heard the saying, "you are a product of your environment." But, W. Clement Stone's well-known quote didn't end there. The rest is rarely remembered, but also rings true. Stone continued: "So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success – or are they holding you back?"
The settings in which we live impact our mental health, which affects our physical health as well as our productivity.
Organizational psychologists believe that simple changes in the workplace environment can positively affect an individual's ability, motivation and opportunity to be productive. The design of the workplace can affect employees to the degree that researchers have identified the exact temperature that yields optimum productivity: 70.88 degrees. While you may not have that much control over your office thermostat, there are minor changes you can make to improve your emotional health at work. Try these ideas to de-clutter your mind and decrease stress.
Organize. Physical clutter = mental clutter. Your eyes (and subconscious) can't escape a messy workspace. According to the Delphi Group, 30 percent of all employees' time is spent searching for documents and about 3 hours per week are wasted unnecessarily by recreating work. To cut down on lost time, schedule 10 minutes at the beginning and end of every week to tidy your surroundings. Develop a consistent file naming system for the computer and use literature sorters to keep hard copies organized. It might also be a good idea to create an unprocessed paper bin, in which you can collect papers to be filed later.
Swap Workspaces. The American Cancer Society reported that men sitting for more than six hours per day during leisure time had a death rate 20 percent higher than those who sat for three hours or fewer.
Women under the same circumstances had a death rate 40 percent higher. Consider a sit-to-stand desk to cut down the time you spend seated. If a standing workplace is not an option, at least invest in adjustable furniture and keyboard trays.
An estimated 82 percent of employees experience pain in the neck, back or shoulders as a result of poor work conditions.
Breathe. Be conscious of your rising belly. Short, shallow breaths tell the brain you're anxious. Deep, long breaths induce relaxation. Determine if you are breathing properly by putting your right hand on your chest and your left hand and your abdomen. Take a deep breath. If your right hand moved first, you're not breathing with your diaphragm, which delivers more oxygen to your body per minute. Practice proper breathing by focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose for three seconds and out through your mouth for three seconds. Repeat!
Sleep. While you sleep, your brain prepares for the next day. Lack of sleep can cause anxiety and depression and hinder your ability to concentrate. Experts say there is no magic number, but seven to eight hours a night contributes to good health and moods. Unfortunately, skimping on your sleep every once in a while actually accumulates a sleep debt that can't be repaid in just a single night of optimum sleep. However, some research suggests that carving out extra hours for shuteye can balance your sleep debt. If you are getting between seven and eight hours of sleep consistently and still experiencing sleepiness during the day, track your sleep habits over the course of two weeks and bring them to your doctor.
Unplug. Technology (especially social media) drains productivity. Log out of your email for an hour. Turn your phone off when spending time with family. One study conducted by International Data Corporation found that we now check Facebook more than we send text messages, and 79 percent of smartphone users reach for their devices within 15 minutes of waking up.
If you can't seem to ditch the gadgets daily, try booking an unplugged vacation for a technology detox. According to one report, 77 percent of travelers believe that time spent without gadgets would liberate them. The TravelChannel put together a list of destinations aimed at helping you break your technology addiction. Find clarity and disconnect.
Be thankful. Start a gratitude journal. Every morning, write down one thing you're thankful for. When you face a stressful situation sometime that day, focus on your gratitude. Robert Emmons, a leading expert on the science of gratitude, suggests making the conscious decision to be happier while creating lists that focus on the details of one happy event versus a long, superficial list. Emmons also suggests reflecting on what your life would be like without certain blessings. After a while, you'll start to develop a mindset of appreciation ... and smile!