“A happy employee is a productive employee”. We’ve all heard this quote numerous times, but is there any truth to it? It turns out, there is. A recent study done by the University of Warwick showed the productivity of a happy employee increased 12 percent when placed in a positive and happy environment. So, how do we create this happy environment for ourselves?
In with the Good, Out with the Bad
Negativity has a scientific term when associated with the biological systems of the body. The emotion of negativity is directly related to the hormone cortisol. Cortisol’s primary function is to trigger a stress reaction in the human body. It is our body’s natural built-in system to create the feeling of stress. In today’s world, the concept sounds foolish. However, if you were a caveman crossing paths with a saber-toothed tiger, you may want a built-in system that lets you know you are in a dangerous situation.
Have you ever heard stories of police officers or military talking about the hair on the back of their neck standing up? That’s cortisol letting the brain know it is in a hazardous environment. In these hazardous environments, cortisol being dumped into the system in large quantities over a short period of time is a very effective system. However, in a workplace setting, cortisol being pumped into your system in much smaller and much more consistent doses is something we want to work positively to avoid. This steady stream of the stress hormone has been linked to depression, weight gain, weakened immune system, and a shortened lifespan. The power of positivity on your health can be measured in loads.
Get Moving Towards a Brighter Day
Endorphins, also known as the activity hormone, are a cortisol suppressing hormone. These are released in almost any physical activity, from running a marathon to spending some quality time with your partner in the bedroom. To release this hormone at work, start scheduling some activity into your workday. See if there is a lunchtime workout class close to your office or a nice running trail. If not, set an alarm on your phone or utilize an app for a predetermined set of time. When the alarm goes off, get active! Calisthenics, yoga, or walking lap around your building will do the trick.
Have Your Cake and Eat it too
You know that feeling of euphoria when you bite into a decadent piece of chocolate cake? How about that wave of comfort or relaxation after finishing spring cleaning or organizing your desk. That’s dopamine, the “mission accomplished” hormone. How do you release this hormone? You guessed it, accomplish missions! Start every day by writing down a “to do” list. As you accomplish the tasks, deliberately scratch the items off the list. Consider doing it while listening to feel good music that has been found to have positive effects on the emotional areas of your brain. With each cross off, you’ll get a healthy dose of dopamine. By the end of the day, you’ll wonder how you were ever feeling down, to begin with.
Serotonin is quite similar to dopamine; it too is a “mission accomplished” hormone. However, this hormone is socially engaged. It is very hard to trigger a serotonin release on your own. The emotion most often associated with serotonin is pride — not pride in yourself, but when you feel how proud the people in your life are of your accomplishments. Feeling proud of someone else’s accomplishments can create a rush of serotonin as well. Try fostering a mentor/mentee relationship where you commit to using only positive language with one another. Regardless of what side of the relationship you are on; as soon as one of you has a great accomplishment, the serotonin will soon follow.
Servitude and High Fives
Oxytocin, the most powerful cortisol suppressant, has been proven to help aid with depression, substance abuse, and can even increase your lifespan. Like serotonin, this hormone is difficult to release all by yourself. There are two effective ways to release oxytocin in a social setting: physical contact and acts of service. A hug or even a high five time can help to lighten another person’s day, as well as your own. Committing acts of service, such as organizing an office blood drive, park clean up, or soup kitchen staffing will help create a positive working space for yourself and your colleagues.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.
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