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Wellness: Little Things to Increase Happiness

HR Elements Content Provided by our Partner, United Benefit Advisors. 

Your alarm goes off and the day-to-day drudgery beings. Hurray. It’s often tough to get excited about the daily events, and some days are more challenging than others to get motivated, yet there are a few simple things everyone can do to inject a little happiness and higher productivity into their lives. Granted, these aren’t going to change your mood from total sadness to gladness, but they should give you a brighter outlook on the day.
The Forbes website had a story covering this topic, titled, “Daily Grind Getting You Down? Make Yourself Happier And More Productive At Work With These Simple Tips” and the tips were so simple it was like a lightbulb turned on. If you were to think about a few small things that could make you happier and more productive, what would they be? Certainly, more money is up there, but what are some things you can change immediately in your life to have an impact on how happy you feel and how productive you can be?
The very first thing in the article was to eat more fruits and vegetables. A good follow-up to that would be eating a healthier, more balanced diet. That candy bar in the middle of the day may bring a temporary sugar rush, but the energy crash afterward is terrible and definitely brings down a person’s mood and work output. Health benefits aside, there’s proof that fruits and vegetables are a mood-booster. A study done by the University of Warwick in Great Britain and the University of Queensland in Australia studied more than 12,000 people for two years. They discovered that the attitudes of people who ate at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day, versus people who only ate a few servings, had a spike in well-being that was equivalent to the feeling you get when landing a job after being unemployed.
If that’s not enough of an incentive, then you might consider exercising before you go to work. Now, we all know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that it’s difficult enough going to the gym after work, much less before. But research has shown that exercising before, or even during, the workday increases happiness and productivity. That’s not to say if you do this after work it won’t have any effect, but to gain the greatest benefit, you should make exercise one of the first things you do every day.
For those people who are averse to eating healthy and exercising, we’re only halfway through the simple tips, and the next two won’t involve any kind of physical activity or modification of your eating habits. That same study done by the University of Warwick in Great Britain found that people who watched a funny video, or had a snack during the day – even if that snack was chocolate – enhanced productivity by more than 10 percent. Who among us doesn’t enjoy and then share a humorous photo, story, or video? You shouldn’t devote a major chunk of time to doing this, but a short break from work is always a good idea.
Finally, and not surprisingly, the length of your commute plays a major role in your happiness. Even if you don’t get stuck in traffic, long commutes can easily and quickly drain your mood faster than you think. The Forbes article states that every ten minutes of commuting results in ten percent fewer social connections, which can lead to social isolation and unhappiness. And while you may not be able to move closer to your job, you may be able to take an alternate route to work that’s shorter or less stressful. Or, you could carpool or take mass transit, thereby reducing some stress. It’s amazing how people may not go somewhere because it will take too long, yet they routinely commute 15, 30, or even 60 minutes to work without a second thought. Those minutes add up and take away time for people to do other things.
So think about these tips and determine what you’re willing to do in order to increase your happiness and productivity. Start slow and make a concerted effort. You may just find that these little things make a big difference.