Pine Rest Guest Blog: Boosting Productivity with Fun and Self-Care at Work
Work and fun, we often think of them as opposites. However, having fun at work is linked to job satisfaction, performance, productivity, reduced stress and healthy co-worker relationships. By working on increasing self-care and fun at work, we can improve our mental health and overall satisfaction in life.
With our focus on deadlines, outcomes and productivity, we can often find ourselves thinking of work as “the rat race”. Developing a culture of fun in the work environment helps balance the pressures of work and look forward to work rather than just tolerate it.
It’s wonderful if fun comes from a top down approach, but here are some ideas for creating a culture of fun where ever you are on the organization chart:
- Create something fun to look forward to.Often people receive as much pleasure from anticipating an enjoyable event as they do participating in it, whether the activity is a holiday party, monthly potluck, after work outing or team retreat.
- Celebrate each other’s life events and organization milestones.There’s much to celebrate individually (birthdays, work anniversaries, weddings, etc.) and in our organizations (meeting sales goals, opening a new location, completing an audit, etc.).
- Stage a friendly competition. These can be related to work, team building, health goals or just amusement. Some popular competitions recently have been step challenges, chili cook-offs, and ugly sweater contests. In the past year, my office has had a salsa making contest and an appetizer contest. Be sensitive to allowing others to participate as desired and not creating any pressure. We never know what battles others may be fighting, such as an eating disorder.
- Coordinate a group of coworkers who have a common interest. Some ideas include walking, running or playing a card game like cribbage or euchre during lunch breaks.
- Reward yourself and others. Working in a land of negative feedback can be discouraging. Identify ways you can give yourself positive reinforcement and rewards for accomplishing goals or tasks. If you are a manager, identify ways you can motivate your staff with positive reinforcement and rewards rather than punishment. My teammates and I have used this method in our mental health treatment groups with teens. For example, when one teen group was struggling to complete homework assignments for their treatment program, group leaders challenged the teens to sustain six weeks of 100% participation in homework for the chance to throw a pie in the face of one of the group leaders. Although this was used to create positive change in our group, it also was enjoyable for my team and added to our fun work environment.
We live in a fast-paced and outcome-based society, and often we sacrifice our self-care in the workplace. Here are some ideas of how to increase your self-care as well as that of your staff.
Take care of your basic needs.
Drink water consistently, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, and listen to your body when you need to use the restroom. These factors seem obvious but it is amazing how many people forget or feel pressure to not care for these basics.
Check your breathing throughout the day.
That’s right, your breathing. Are you breathing shallow or holding your breath without realizing it? Both are common when we are under stress. If you are, take a few deep breaths.
Get away from your work station periodically.
For lunches and/or breaks, make an effort to socialize, have some quiet time or go for a walk. Most importantly, don’t work through lunch. By allowing yourself break and down time you are investing in and valuing yourself.
Create a relaxation station.
Depending on your workplace culture, create for yourself – or for the whole work team – a “relaxation station”. This could be in an unused cubical, office or even a box under your desk. Fill it with relaxation tools such as: lotions, music, beautiful rocks, fidget toys, acupressure tools, candy and healthy snacks.
My relaxation station contains my favorite essential oil roller, an acupressure ring for hand massages, scented lip balm, candy, rocks, coloring books, extreme dot-to-dot books, family photos and magnets with inspirational quotes.
Set aside a few minutes throughout the day to practice mindfulness.
Many smartphone apps are available for mindfulness practice and can help us build accountability and consistency. A few popular ones are Headspace, Pause and Mindfulness Coach.
Lastly, work to balance socializing and productivity at work. The workplace of closed doors, email communication and quiet hallways can feel very isolating. By taking the time to say hello, checking in face-to-face with a teammate, or engaging in the typical “water cooler” conversation, we are investing in each other and therefore working on team relationships and our own joy at work.
Work and fun do not need to be separate concepts! Employees, managers and organizations benefit when work and fun come together.
If you’d like to read more about self-care and/or managing stress, visit the Pine Rest Website for free resources. Or, if you would like assistance in these areas, call 866-852-4001 to make your first appointment with a therapist.
About the Author. Kathy DeVries, LMSW, CAAC, is a Licensed Master Social Worker and Certified Advanced Addictions Counselor with over 10 years of experience in human services. She is the Program Coordinator for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services’ Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Program treatment team.