How can I be happy? This is a question we ask ourselves constantly and many have looked at various options in their pursuit of happiness. I cannot offer you a one size fits all approach but what I can do is remind you how we can take control of our happiness at work just by following a few simple steps and letting biology do the rest. I hope you have had your caffeine hit as I want to get technical for a minute. 

I will never bore of reminding people of the power of our ‘Endogenous morphine’ or what is commonly termed, in its contracted form ‘Endorphins’. This is otherwise and more commonly known as the happy hormone and can be actively released to make us feel better. 

Now for the techy part…A flood of it from the central nervous system and our pituitary gland will hook the opiate receptors in the brain and signal the body to reduce transmissions of pain and discomfort. Simply put, we get a rush and we start to feel better. 

So how do we release these “endorphins” at work? Two easy ways are laughter and/or exercise. 

If you are perhaps stressed at work as have a deadline looming; If you are tired, lethargic due to lack of sleep, allow yourself time to find moments that will induce laughter. Search for them, seek to find a story, situation or memory that will get you laughing, and even better share that with someone else.

An old Yiddish proverb says, “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” … A good laugh can be compared to a mild workout, as it exercises the muscles, gets the blood flowing, decreases blood pressure and stress hormones, improves sleep patterns and boosts the immune system.

When you think about it, the simple act of laughing can create a varied sense of feelings, of being fulfilled, being connected and having rapport with those around us. When we share in a laugh it helps to create a feeling of unity and makes us part of a team. This is sometimes needed more than we realise in the office/work environment. The simple laugh can really be the key to our happiness at work.

If you are ‘not the laughing kind’ (Really? Never?) or you are in a position where you really cannot find anything to laugh about right now then turn to the other alternative – exercise. Yes, I know this sounds very simple and I can imagine some of you are saying ‘but we already know this’ but ask yourself how often you do this and how many times you put it off… be honest… 

We are all guilty of putting other aspects of our professional life in front of our own personal wellbeing, even when we know the benefits of it are second to none. It is proven that the surge of blood we get from exercising goes straight to our brain and is not only beneficial but can directly affect performance in work, from enabling a clearer more focused mind, a better more positive outlook, or offering a way to de- stress. Looking through the biology lens, we see it also physically has many benefits:

·        It strengthens the heart. The heart is a muscle. …

·        It helps keep arteries and veins clear. …

·        It strengthens the lungs. …

·        It reduces blood sugar levels. …

·        It controls weight. …

·        It strengthens bones. …

·        It helps prevent cancer. …

·        It regulates blood pressure.

The list of benefits to our health goes on….

If you struggle to stay motivated and find yourself not finding the energy, motivation, or even passion to get exercising then try to use ‘conditioning’ a little more. 

To help you understand what I mean let me tell you a story. On the day they do PE my daughters class change into their PE kit from the start of the school day. My daughter tells me she’s loves it, she feels happier on these days. Well of course …. I imagine the teachers do it for practical reasons (30 children all getting changed in a classroom is somewhat chaotic and uses up valuable lesson time). But, I wonder if they know they’re benefitting from a secondary brain device – that of conditioning (thanks Pavlov) … just by wearing the kit what do you think may be happening in the brain? It is being conditioned into relating the gym kit as being related to exercise and thus creates a link to the feelings associated with this…. sending signals seeking out the endorphins, making you feel better … there it is! Clever really! 

Try it. I do. The days I exercise, clients permitting, you’ll find me in my exercise gear way before my work out. Why? It signals to the brain that exercise/endorphins are coming and not only am I more likely to exercise that day, but I then get double whammy the pre-conditioning + endogenous morphine itself. 

So, to end, my top tips for exercising… Get exercising. Tips for exercise. Really? You’re bright, you’re resourceful, you don’t need me to tell you what exercise to do, take a walk, run, head to the gym, go swimming, cycle to work, do it in whatever way works for you, just do it!

This stuff works. Please use it, share it, play with it. 

#AppliedNeuroscience