Office and Admin Watercooler

Improve Your Workplace Mood with 10 Basic Tips

Written by Miranda Pennington

“Cheer up” isn’t feedback most of us typically get in our annual reviews, but studies show bringing a positive attitude into the office with you can improve relationships and productivity and make-up for the less exciting aspects of the daily grind.

Try these 10 simple steps from The Undercover Recruiter to boost your mood and help you bring your A game every day!

1. Eat Healthier

I’ve never met a vending machine I didn’t like, but I know that empty calories and sugary snacks during that 2 p.m. lull are not my friends! I started outsmarting temptation by bringing small baggies of almonds, trail mix, or granola bars to cut down on snacking, and using what I saved in the break room to treat myself to salads or fresh food options at lunchtime.

2. Get Some Exercise

Some companies are able to offer discounted gym memberships or other workplace incentives to employees who take the time to workout and enjoy those exercise endorphins. Whether it’s a walk at lunch, a shift at a standing desk, or an early morning spin class, give your mind and body the energy they need by getting whatever exercise you can!

3. Get More Sleep

I have to trick myself into this one by hiding my phone out of reach when I go to bed; otherwise I keep refreshing social media or checking my email despite the fact that literally nothing is going to happen that will need my attention before the morning. Make your bedroom a quiet, welcoming, dark space, and reserve sleeping hours for sleep.

4. Give Feedback

If you’re dissatisfied with something at work, the best way to get some changes made is to speak up about it—productively, of course, so you’re not just complaining. Talk to your boss or your colleagues if you have suggestions to improve your work environment; you might be surprised what a difference you can make by communicating what you need.

5. Show Gratitude

Whether you’re higher up in the food chain or anchoring the entry-level spot, take a minute each day to express gratitude to someone who makes your job easier, someone whose contribution you appreciate, or someone who often goes unrecognized. Keeping a journal at home or on your phone can help you document moments that made it all worthwhile, so you have something to look back at on a bad day.

6. Reflect

Another task that journal is great for is looking back over the day or week you’ve just had. Where were you successful? Where do you have room to improve? When you take the time to review your performance thoughtfully, you’ll move through the workday with more awareness, which can lead to increased satisfaction and better work overall.

7. Meditate

Whether you take a little time to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths every hour or actually devote 20 minutes of your lunch hour to a more formal practice, meditation is proven to increase calm, focus, and empathy levels. Don’t get caught up in a stressful day—step back and recenter yourself.

8. Get to Know Your Colleagues

If you’re an introvert like me, this might sound dreadful. At the end of a long day, often the last thing I want to do is troop down to happy hour with the people I’ve already spent all day with. But whether you strike up a conversation at Patrick’s birthday party (a.k.a. awkward cake in the conference room hour) or invite your counterpart from another department to eat lunch outside with you, find interpersonal connections at work to help you look forward to each day in the office.

9. Help Others

Spending even 10-15 minutes helping someone else out can reliably make you feel better about yourself and your job. Just as beneficial, it may make them more willing to help you out in return someday; you’re building social capital and improving your day at the same time.

10. Take a Mental Health Day

We live in a work culture that values constant accessibility, putting in extra hours, and pushing ourselves forward incessantly. If you’re lucky enough to have paid sick leave, treat yourself to a day where you don’t think about work at all. It will all be waiting for you the next morning; after a day away to refresh yourself, you’ll already be happier on the job.

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.