It’s Monday! Are you dreading the upcoming work week? If so, chances are that it’s not the tasks at hand that are bothering you. It’s not the upcoming meetings and conference calls, and it’s not your coworkers either. It’s the office itself. You might need to a bit more joy at work.
Even if you are a generally happy person, you may feel a bit downhearted from time to time. If catching the blues happens anywhere, its bound to happen at the office.
Designer by trade and author of Joyful, Ingrid Fetell Lee, suggests that bleak, colorless settings can act as energy drainers.
Through her research on joy, Fetell discovered the powerful connection between surroundings and emotions.
Fetell defines multiple ways we can increase the frequency of feeling joy. One way we can do so is by changing our environment and using it as a source of glee. With simple environmental changes as small as redecorating your own desk, you can brighten up your space. In turn, you’ll brighten your mood, your outlook, and your productivity.
According to the UK Warwick University’s recent study, happiness has made people around 12% more productive, so making yourself happier at work is not just good for you, it’s good for your company.
While happiness is defined as an overall feeling of contentment overtime, joy is a momentary experience that is much easier to feel, define, and achieve. In other words, happiness is complicated. In contrast, joy is simple and momentary – you smile, you laugh, you crack jokes, you get the elating feeling of wanting to jump up and down.
As you make your own world a better, more joyful place, there is an added bonus – those around you will get to enjoy it too. Joy is contagious! So, what can make us feel more joyful, more energetic, more alive at work? Here are some easy ways you can bring new energy to your workspace:
Paint Your World Rainbow – Joy is Colorful.
“Color is energy made visible,” Fetell says, “It activates an ancient circuit that lights up with pleasure at the idea of finding something sweet to eat.”
Even if you don’t plan on eating your desk decor, bright colors will tell your brain that your environment is rich and sustainable. Color will energize you. It will lift your spirits, improve your mood, and will serve as an instant source of joy.
It might take some effort to initially overcome chromophobia, the fear of being bold with your color choices. Just go with it. Pick the brightest, purest pigments and add color to your surroundings. Interior designers recommend easy ways to add color to your space – from accent furniture to desk accessories. Whatever way you choose, your inner child will thank you and reward you with a smile on your face, and so will your coworkers.
Bring in Light – Joy is Bright.
Even without bright colors, you can instantly light up your space with natural light. We all know it’s easier to wake up on a sunny morning instead of on a gloomy one. “The joy we find in a sunlit room is matched by tangible measures of well-being,” Fetell writes. “Research consistently shows that increasing exposure to daylight reduces blood pressure and improves mood, alertness, and productivity.” Sunlight is best, she says, but when it isn’t available broad-spectrum light can provide similar benefits.
Embrace Nature – Joy is Peaceful
Don’t have access to a window in your cubicle? Make it a point to step outside and enjoy some fresh air sometime during the day (even if just for a few minutes). Studies show that exposure to natural environment boosts productivity, improves body image, and brightens one’s mood.
Studies prove that even looking at pictures of nature has benefits for your emotional and even physical health, so put up a few frames with landscape photos, too.
“…Spending time in nature decreases blood flow to a part of the brain called the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is associated with the tendency to brood over problems,”Fetell says. “Natural settings literally make us more carefree.”
Adding live plants to your decor is another great way to bring in peaceful vibes. Adding sounds and scents will help, too. Use your favorite music app to play nature sounds, and get an oil diffuser to spread some pleasant natural aromas.
Add Transcendence – Joy is Light
“As mobile devices have come to permeate our lives, our attention is increasingly pulled downward, ” Fetell writes. “We spend so much time looking at our phones that we are beginning to suffer for serious neck strain; research shows that when we look down at our phones, we increase the stress on our necks by as much as 500 percent, making it as if our heads weighted sixty pounds!”
According to research, light, elevating experiences and images give us glimpses of transcendence. All of these are “vital in giving our lives meaning and purpose,” Fetell says.
While we do not have the luxury of climbing a tree house or stargazing in the middle of the workday, we can still bring transcendence to our workspaces. Accentuating open spaces with tall plants and vertical line designs is one way to do so. Gradient color schemes that mimic the sky, photographs, and paintings of open landscapes, and pictures of hot air balloons all have shown to bring joy to people in Fetell’s research.
We spend most of our day at work. Why not redesign your space to lift your spirits and make yourself more joyful? Bring color, air, light, and nature into your work environment and feel your spirits lift and your productivity levels spike.