Work Happy: 25 Ways to Improve Your Mood When People Around You Are Miserable

Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 2:02am by Site Administrator

Deadlines are looming, your clients aren’t happy, and there’s a nasty cold going around the office. It seems like everyone around you is in a completely miserable mood, and they have no problem taking it out on everyone else. You don’t have to let the ill temper of your office mates affect you and how you’re feeling, however. After all, going to work in a sour mood and concentrating on the stressful elements of your job can have an adverse affect on your health. So how can you keep the general unhappiness of your work environment from affecting you? Here are 25 things you can try to improve your mood and maybe even the mood of those around you.

  1. Choose to be happy. It might sound overly simplistic, but the easiest way to rise above the cloud of negativity at work is simply to not let it affect you. Other people may have an impact on your mood, but the only one in charge of it is you, so choose to ignore the crankiness and find your own personal happiness.
  2. Make friends. People are generally happier at work when they have a few coworkers that they can count on as genuine friends. Get together for lunch or take a quick coffee break. You’ll be surprised how much talking to a friend can help elevate your mood and make your outlook more positive.
  3. Do things you love. If there are particular elements of your job that you love doing more than others, focus on these for at least a good portion of your day. Or, if you need to, use your lunch break to get away from the office for a massage, shop for a new pair of shoes, or spend it playing games at your desk so that the negativity of work won’t totally weigh you down.
  4. Avoid particularly negative coworkers. Everyone has that one coworker that always seems to be in a bad mood, even when things are good. Whether the people around you are perpetually negative or are just having a bad week, try to avoid interactions with them that could make everyone more unhappy.
  5. Meditate. Sometimes the key to being happier is to simply just spend more time relaxing. Meditation can be a great way to focus your thoughts and shake off all the unhappiness of the grumpy people around you.
  6. Take a walk. Few things can help lift your mood like a little bit of exercise. Whether you walk around the building or around the block, getting up and moving around can help you clear your head and improve how your body feels.
  7. Clean and organize your desk. A messy desk can sometimes make you feel overwhelmed and overburdened, even when you’re not. Set aside a few minutes to clean up your work area in the morning or before you leave at night. You’ll get to feel a sense of accomplishment that you got it done and get to enjoy having a desk that isn’t swimming with papers.
  8. Listen to music. One way to avoid cranky coworkers is to tune them out with music. Put on your headphones and crank up your favorite tunes. You’ll likely get more done, and you won’t have to listen to the grumpy chatter around you.
  9. Personalize your desktop. Working in the same boring gray cube day after day can take its toll. While you don’t have to go overboard, a few personal touches on your desk like photos of friends, family, or pets can make a big difference in your mental outlook plus you’ll have something to motivate you to get through the day.
  10. Eat better. Studies have shown that foods can have a huge impact on not only our physical well-being but our moods as well. Try incorporating foods like milk, chocolate, whole grains, blueberries and fish in your diet, as they have been shown to have a marked effect on anxiety and stress levels.
  11. Smile. Even if your smiles are only met with frowns, smiling can actually have an impact on your mood. If you think about it, it’s really hard to stay angry or upset when you’ve got a smile on your face, so even if you’re faking, it can help improve your day.
  12. Concentrate on working towards a goal. Even if you’re bogged down with loads of work you can still maintain your happy mood by just concentrating on one thing at a time. Set a goal for yourself, say finishing a certain amount of work each day, and concentrate on working towards it.
  13. Make someone’s day. Sometimes the best path to making you feel good is by making those around you feel good. Give a coworker a compliment or bring someone a coffee as a treat. Your kindness could be infectious and improve the mood of the whole office.
  14. Count your blessings. Even if work is a complete nightmare at the moment, it’s unlikely that there isn’t anything in your life that makes you happy or that you enjoy. Try concentrating on these things instead of the negative things at work.
  15. Find the humor in it. A good laugh can do wonders for your mood. Even the worst situations have a lighter side, so try to find it even if your coworkers can’t.
  16. Use aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is an age old practice based on the idea that smells can impact your mood. Whether it’s true for you or not it doesn’t hurt to try. Try bringing in potpourri, air fresheners or even some fresh flowers. Any smell that reminds you of home or happy things will work.
  17. Treat yourself. Whether your secret indulgence is a chocolate donut or an extra large order from your local Chinese restaurant, letting yourself indulge a little bit will make work seem less awful and put you in a better mood overall.
  18. Change your lighting. While not everyone has the luxury of an office with a window, if you do, arrange your office so that you can see out or pull the blinds up to let natural light in. If you don’t have a window, try bringing in a softer and more personalized light to offset the glare of the fluorescent lights in your office. Either will help your work area to seem less harsh and much more pleasant to be in.
  19. Shake it off. If people around you truly are miserable, chances are good that at some point they’re going to take it out on you. Learn to simply shake it off and not take things too personally, otherwise your coworkers will quickly bring you down to their level of unhappiness.
  20. Help out coworkers. If it’s possible that your coworkers are unhappy because they are overworked and you happen to have a little extra time on your hands, offer to help out. You’ll foster a sense of teamwork and hopefully make others feel less stressed and upset.
  21. Try to relate. While you shouldn’t let others’ bad moods affect your own, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to empathize with why your coworkers are so cranky in the first place. Try talking to them. Sometimes all people need to feel better is to get what’s bothering them off their chest.
  22. Look your best. Want to improve how you feel about yourself when you go to work? Try spending some extra time getting ready. Wear your favorite clothes or spend a little more time styling your hair. Whatever makes you feel like you look good will undoubtedly improve your outlook on the day.
  23. Get plenty of rest. It’s pretty easy to be cranky and short tempered when you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep, so make sure to set aside a solid block of time where you can sleep uninterrupted and wake up feeling rested.
  24. Take your vitamins. Studies have shown that vitamin D can help boost your mood. Vitamin D boosts your brain’s level of serotonin, your body’s natural feel-good hormone, thereby improving your mental and emotional outlook.
  25. Get out of the office. If nothing else works to boost your mood around your angry and unhappy coworkers, then just try to spend as little time as possible at the office. Leave on your lunch break and try to be more efficient with your work so that you can leave on time at night. If neither of those are possible, sometimes a quick walk outside can be just as helpful.


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6 Comments »

  1. All great tips. I especially agree with personalizing your workspace. Nothing is more depressing than an empty cubicle! Even a nice plant will help cleanse your body and give you much-needed vitamins!

    Comment by Dara — December 22, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  2. There’s nothing in this article that’s new or different from your usual “common sense” ideas, but these time-tested ideas are helpful if you don’t already know them. The best way to deal with a bad mood is to realize that bad moods don’t usually last….and practice some of the suggestions above.

    Comment by alison — December 24, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  3. This article is simply fantastic. In fact I am gonna start to practice some if not all suggestions above.

    Comment by Budhi — December 27, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  4. good list and practical as well….

    Comment by Linda — January 13, 2008 @ 5:21 am

  5. Definitely these are all great little tips to keep you from following others into the downward spiral of co-workers. Yet, I do think you would really have something if you wrote an article with tips on how to get yourself out of the negative spiral.

    Any plans ?

    Comment by Busy Man — January 14, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

  6. Aaah yes,I feel better already. These tips are fantastic. Smiling is definatley contagious…. I tried it this Monday morning…. I smiled at three co-workers and then low and behold…. the fourth one smiled back – YAY!!!Sod the other three!

    Comment by Angela — January 21, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

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