5 Ways to Boost Your Happiness While Working from Anywhere

As a happiness researcher, I know there is no secret to happiness, but there is a science to it. Research has found that happiness can not only improve mental and physical health, it can also raise educational and business outcomes - from productivity to sales to creative thinking and improved memory!

A recent survey commissioned by Staples Canada among members of the Angus Reid Forum found that 69% of small business owners reported feeling stressed, with one quarter (26%) reporting they were extremely or very stressed. Add the challenges of working remotely, plus living in a global pandemic, and it can quickly add up to feelings of burnout, low energy, and lack of motivation. If you are feeling stressed, or are struggling to find motivation, try these 5 proven tips to help increase and sustain happiness while working from anywhere.

#1: Be an architect of your environment

Your surroundings influence your state of mind. Piles of disorganized and bursting file folders, scattered papers, and dust-collecting bookshelves are not a recipe for happiness, rather, they can lead to overwhelm and stress. Well-designed spaces, on the other hand, can be sources of inspiration, productivity, and motivation.

Research confirms that less mess equals less stress, so making your workspace easy to keep organized can help make your space a source of inspiration rather than frustration. Research has also found that an untidy space can reduce our ability to focus on a task, increase cortisol (a stress hormone), and can even make us more likely to reach for junk food! Choosing organizational tools such as desk organizers can help keep your workspace (wherever that may be) neat and tidy, and your mind productive and motivated.

#2: Create a routine

Surprisingly, creating and reinforcing a routine can ultimately lead to more freedom, motivation, and less stress because it can give you a sense of ownership in your life. Routines can also free up mental energy as you’ll spend less time thinking about what you’re doing. People who have regular routines are often generally happier, less anxious, more efficient, as numerous studies have shown.

When we don’t have routines, we can end up stumbling through our days, allowing life to happen to us. Instead, try taking inventory of your day and look for opportunities to create routines. Perhaps you try to wake up at the same time each day or use your planner to schedule your work hours or breaks. Breaks are essential to help reduce mental fatigue, and they can help improve focus, creativity, and job performance. Try creating a routine that includes scheduled breaks to help improve your mental sharpness, performance, and mood.

Tip #3: Practice gratitude

Gratitude helps us notice and appreciate the good in our lives. Intentionally focusing on what we are thankful for increases positive emotions, and also helps to sustain them over time. There is strong evidence that shows that people who regularly practice gratitude sleep better, experience better physical and mental health, have stronger immune systems, and feel more content. Research has also found that gratitude can decrease stress, negativity, and anxiety. Gratitude can also play an important role in our happiness. Research has found that people feel happier after expressing gratitude, and one study found that 90% of participants said that expressing gratitude helped them to feel extremely or somewhat happy. Thinking about things that you are grateful for is good (and you still benefit), but what is best is to write it down! A gratitude journal is a simple, effective tool, and it can also be a helpful visual reminder to practice gratitude as you develop the habit. Try taking a few minutes each day to write down things that you are thankful for or appreciate. I also like to make the practice even more fun by using colourful pens and highlighters!

Tip #4: Find a hobby

Hobbies are not only fun; they are good for us too! They can help us process the emotions we are feeling, lower stress and anxiety, enhance resilience, increase self-awareness, and contribute to a sense of playfulness and curiosity. And the benefits can extend beyond when you are engaging in your hobby: one study showed that people who engage in hobbies enjoy better moods and have less stress and lower heart rates - even hours after the recreation time. Another study found that those who regularly engaged in hobbies felt happier, more energetic, and enthusiastic the next day!

Hobbies can be anything you enjoy - from crafting or gardening, to doing a jigsaw puzzle, scrapbooking, or playing an instrument. Research has found that any healthy hobby that you enjoy can boost happiness, and we often get the most gratification from hobbies that both interest and fully absorb us.

Tip #5: Consider a coworking space

People who are more socially connected are happier, physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. Even in a post-pandemic world, the future of work sees many of us working from anywhere. Especially when working remotely, it can be challenging to find ways to connect, and it is common to feel lonely or disconnected. Joining a coworking space can be an effective solution that can help increase connection and community.

Having a different physical space to work can help to create separation between work and the rest of your life, and the autonomy and flexibility that coworking offers can also lead to increased productivity and happiness. Many people report thriving in coworking spaces like Staples Studio, and if you aren’t sure if a coworking space is right for you, give it a try and find out! Dr. Gillian Mandich has a PhD in Health Science from Western University. She a happiness researcher, the founder of The International Happiness Institute of Health Science Research; co-lead investigator of The Canadian Happiness At Work Study; and is a part of the Meant2Prevent research team at SickKids. Dr. Mandich is a media personality, two-time TEDx speaker, and top-rated virtual and in-person keynote speaker.

By Dr. Gillian Mandich

April 16, 2021