Everyone dreads Monday mornings, but researchers say that the most stressful day of the week for many office workers is actually Tuesday.
More precisely, Tuesday at 10 AM—just when assignments and projects are picking up steam, deadlines are looming, and you really have to get down to business for the week. (Apparently, people say they make it through Monday by catching up on the previous night's episode of Downton Abbey and organizing for the week ahead.)
Luckily, there's an abundance of research from the science of happiness that can help you sail through a stressful Tuesday morning—and make it through the end of the week in one piece.
1. Do One Thing That Brightens Your Day Before You Get to the Office
There's a reason people having a bad day often grumble, "I woke up on the wrong side of the bed:" How you start the day can affect your mood for the rest of the day. A 2011 study published in the Academy of Management examined the moods of workers in a call center and found that people who started the day in a bad mood tended to feel bad after taking calls, and they were less productive. On the other hand, employees who arrived at work in a good mood reported feeling more positive after their calls—plus, they performed better while on the job.
To help put you in the right frame of mind to tackle all those assignments waiting for you, do one thing that brightens your mood at the start of each Tuesday—whether it's a going on a refreshing run, indulging in your favorite blueberry muffin on your coffee break, or sharing some quality time with your pet before you head to the office.
2. Think About the Positive Impact of Your Work
In Happify's Get Energized About Your Job track, management coach Denise Clegg suggests writing a short list of reasons why your work is meaningful—and using it to keep you motivated on Tuesday mornings (or any time you're feeling frazzled or burnt out). As a bonus, a 2012 study of nurses' job performance found that those who reflected on the importance of a project and wrote down their thoughts did better than their colleagues in terms of the time they put in, their productivity and efficiency, and their accuracy and attention to a given task.
Take a few moments to answer these questions: How is your work benefiting others, whether it's your clients, customers, other colleagues, or the company? How are you putting out something positive into the world? The next time you're feeling stressed about your workload, look at your list for a quick happiness boost.
3. Grab a Coffee Break With Brenda From Accounting
You've heard of “fight or flight” as a natural response to stress. But have you heard of "tend and befriend?" Research by Shelley Taylor of UCLA has found that this is another instinctual behavior humans have to stressful situations—apparently, when we're in the company of friends, challenges seem less daunting. In fact, the most successful people “tend and befriend” when they feel burnt out—meaning they reach out to friends, family, and colleagues who can provide encouragement, support, and advice.
At the office, you can minimize stress by forming bonds with your colleagues. You don't have to be best buds with all of your co-workers, of course, but even having one trusted colleague to whom you can vent during a coffee break could make a huge difference in your ability to handle day-to-day work stress.
4. Visualize Your Best Day Ever
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and an expert on applying lessons from happiness research to fuel your career, has a strategy for conquering any stressful situation at work: Close your eyes and think of the happiest day of your life—your graduation day, the time you rode an elephant in Thailand, you get the idea. Recall how you felt: Elated? Proud? Totally at peace?
In one study, students who were told to think about the happiest day of their lives before taking a standardized math test outperformed their peers. And in other study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, doctors who were primed to be happy were able to make a correct diagnosis nearly twice as fast as their counterparts. Thinking of yourself at your happiest puts you in the right frame of mind to perform at your best—no matter what time of day it is.