Although I’ve been a long-time practitioner of finding ways to brighten tough days with small, seemingly insignificant things (read: sweet things), I only recently gave it a name: happiness boost.
When I’m feeling kind of meh, whether it’s the weather affecting my mood or a challenging work assignment that I can’t quite figure out, I take myself to a bakery and order whatever looks good. I’m no stranger to the cupcake (vanilla on vanilla, please!), and I also appreciate a really good oatmeal raisin cookie or literally any item from an authentic French bakery. Something about the reward aspect of this aids in my productivity when I return to my desk.
I figured some of my colleagues also had ideas for boosting their happiness —be it a sugary treat midday or a walk around the block after a major meeting—and so I convinced them to share their own happiness boosts with me. They had so many good and often original ideas that it made me realize there's a whole world of little fixes I could be taking advantage of when I'm struggling to get through a long day at the office.
The next time you’re stressed—so much work! too many emails! you’re behind! you made a mistake!—or having a bad day, try one of these happiness boosts and see if you feel a little bit better.
When I’m having a bad day, I vent everything to my roommate. Whether it's a quick call or a text—just to get it off my chest and feel some relief. Then I write down what I want to accomplish by the end of the day, plug into my favorite playlist, and think about how far I’ve come and how lucky I am to be here.
I go for donuts. Specifically a toasted coconut donut from my favorite donut shop, Dough. Sweets can make any problem better, at least temporarily!
Whenever my day starts to run me, instead of me running my day, I pause and take a breather. A quick meditation or walk does wonders to get me back on track and clear my mind.
Endorphin boost! If it can wait till the end of the day, there’s nothing like sweating the stress away at the gym after work. If I know I’ve got a hectic day ahead, I’ll wake up a little early and hit the gym in the morning. If I’ve got some extra energy left when I get home, I like to cook a hearty meal afterwards. I find cooking to be super cathartic.
Pushups! Or I’ll sneak a wall sit or headstand when there’s not too many people around.
Eat anything sweet and delicious. If the day’s really bad, I won’t take it to go; I’ll sit at the shop for five minutes to relax and reflect.
When I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed or uninspired, I like to head out of the office for a quick meditation session. It really resets my energy and overall mind state, and gets me thinking a lot more clearly.
I bike to work almost every day, and that’s a super helpful way for me to clear my head. It gives me some time alone where I can just think and clear my head. Honestly after a long day (or at the beginning of what will be a long day), it makes it way easier to tackle things large or small.
In line with the adage, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ I like to listen to comedy podcasts to lift the mood and boost through afternoon tasks, even the mundane ones! Some favorites include Comedy Bang Bang, The Podcast, Nerdist, and All Things Comedy.
To put things in perspective, sometimes when I’m having a bad day I watch military homecoming surprises on YouTube. Always makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. Really, anytime I’m feeling stressed or having a bad day, a good YouTube video does the trick.
When I’m feeling stressed, I like to throw on my ‘Feelin’ Good’ Spotify playlist and take a walk around the block. It’s great to get my blood flowing and take my mind off anything that’s bothering me.
Whenever I need a quick work break, I love going to Harmon Face Values (like CVS on steroids) and taking 15 minutes to walk up and down the aisles of brightly lit, beautifully packaged toiletries. I actually have an addiction to buying toiletries; it really relaxes me. There’s nothing quite like deciding between two brands of shampoo.
I try to leave the office and either eat my lunch outside or grab a coffee in the afternoon, if the weather’s nice out. There’s always more work to be done in the office, but it’s great to step away for a few minutes either solo or with a friend to chat about some non work things and get the blood pumping.
When I’m having a bad day and start to feel overwhelmed, I have to take a walk. Just removing myself from the office and getting some fresh air definitely makes me feel better and I can come back to the office feeling better. That and venting to my boyfriend, best friend, or parents always helps, too.
Animals are a surefire way to achieve a happiness boost. When people bring their dogs to the office, I think my productivity drops fast, because dogs are the second greatest things on this planet—since nobody brings cats to the office!
I’m a huge tea drinker, but it’s more the act of brewing tea that calms me down than the drinking it. If I need a quick fix, I’ll grab a tea bag out of my drawer and brew myself a cup, using the time while I’m waiting for the water to boil to take a few deep breaths and clear my mind. On a really stressful day, I’ll take it an extra step by going to a nearby grocery store and browsing the tea aisle to pick a new brew—adding a few minutes out of the office and a short walk to my normal ritual helps calm me when things are really nuts.
I usually just move locations. If I’m feeling in a rut or there’s a certain mood I want to change, a change of scenery helps me: change to standing when I was sitting, go into a corner of the office where there is more sunlight, steal a conference room and snag a comfy chair for a little bit, or even go to work at a coffee shop or something!
I take a trip with my favorite co-worker to get a giant bag of Chex Mix (because she’s my snack partner-in-crime).
Photo of happy woman at office Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author