Published on April 25th, 2017 | by Nancy F. Clark0
How To Use Media At Work To Rewire Your Happiness
By Sophie H. Janicke—
The times where people meet by the water cooler for chit-chat or pop into each other’s offices for a quick conversations have long been replaced by emails and instant messaging. Technology has become an integral part of our lives and for better or worse, completely changed the way we work. Whereas many might argue that this change has come at a large cost to our productivity and well-being, technology can also provide us with many opportunities to increase productivity and happiness at work—if used right.
Based on the science of positive media psychology, here are 3 simple ways you can use your technology at work to rewire your happiness.
1 Use Technology To Unplug
Working in a demanding job constantly stresses our cognitive energy, with little opportunities for us to recharge. The pressure to perform under tight deadlines, while trying to fulfill our own standards, makes us skip lunch breaks and sometimes even postpone going to the restroom. However, research clearly shows that taking breaks throughout our workday helps us better focus thereby increasing our productivity, reduces muscle tension within our body, and enhances our creativity and problem solving capabilities.
In short: Taking breaks (from technology) is crucial for a successful work-day. While we seem to be really good at scheduling work meetings into our online calendars, we seem to be really bad in scheduling times to recharge for ourselves. But, they are just as crucial as the meetings themselves.
So try this: Block out 15 minutes each day in your calendar like any other appointment to unplug and recharge. Or, set a recurring “Real Break” alarm to remind you to leave your workstation, go for a walk, chat with a colleague, meditate or stretch. Go back to a time where breaks were “real”: No social media browsing while eating, or answering emails while waiting in line at the coffee shop. While it is somewhat ironic to use technology to unplug, it is a simple and effective way to positively rewire your stress into happiness.
2 Watch Online Videos To Reduce Stress At Work
Unplugging is not the only solution to recover from exhaustion. Recent research shows that generally watching short online videos or playing an online video game leads to psychological recovery, increased vitality and cognitive performance.
In the work context, recent research shows that watching any type of online video for just 4 minutes can lead to reduced feelings of stress. Specifically watching a particular uplifting video, such as videos posted by Upworthy, can lead to increased energy levels and help employees derive more meaning from their work. Funny cat videos on the other hand, made employees feel more satisfied with their work.
Being constantly interrupted by notifications from social media is problematic for our productivity and happiness. But, consciously choosing to watch a short online video at work to relax is actually a good thing. So, next time you feel like you need to slack off social media, choose to watch an inspiring video instead of reading the news and you will rewire your stress into happiness.
3 Find And Express Gratitude
Even when we love our jobs and are passionate about what we do, there are days when we simply don’t feel like working. We feel a little blue and can’t really get into the flow of things.
A well-known strategy to uplift our mood and see the bigger picture in the things we do is the experience of gratitude. Research has shown that people who are more grateful in life, are overall happier, feel more connected to others, sleep better and visit the doctor less often.
An easy and very powerful way to instantly feel grateful is to express gratitude to someone you care about. When you feel down at work, take a breath, and step away from your computer. Then, take your phone, choose a person you care about and text them how much you appreciate them. Be specific. Be personal. Tell them why you are so grateful for them. It may feel “awkward” at first but once you send it, all you will want to do is share your appreciation for all your family and friends.
This exercise will not only get you out of your head and into your heart, it will also make your friends’ day. If you want to step up your gratitude game even more, pick a co-worker, write down why you are grateful for them, go into their office, and read your gratitude letter out loud. Within 5 minutes, you will feel uplifted and ready to work again.
While technology is a powerful tool that impacts our lives at and away from work, it lies in our hands, literally, to use it in a way it rewires us toward happiness.
Sophie H. Janicke, Ph.D. is a positive media psychologist at Chapman University working on building sustainable happiness in the digital age as a researcher, teacher, speaker, and blogger at Rewire Happiness.