Most of us have experienced at least one bout of burnout while working through a global pandemic, and when you look into the research surrounding stress and isolation, it’s no surprise that we’re not feeling as fulfilled at work these days. Research has shown that social isolation can contribute to cognitive decline, impacting our work performance, while balancing online school for kids with hours in the home office takes away from our focus and drive.
Fortunately, psychologists have found that finding joy isn’t necessarily about the absence of suffering, but rather taking time to cultivate and celebrate little victories as well as remaining courageous, authentic, grateful, and connected. Today we share four strategies from Harvard Business Review author Rebecca Newton on how to rediscover joy at work.
Build strengths into your day
Strengths can be anything that bring more energy or motivation into your day. This can be a quick check in with an inspiring coworker, an opportunity to think critically, or exercising your creative brain. Make a list of work situations which make you feel more empowered and energized and strive to make more room for them in your daily schedule.
Focus on growth
After a year of what felt like hanging on for dear life, many of us are giving ourselves some breathing room for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Setting goals and working hard to achieve them is a huge component of professional fulfillment, so take some time to set out new milestones for yourself.
Confide in a colleague
Identify a coworker or two that you trust and respect and set aside a time to meet and chat with them about your feelings and struggles. Discuss your experience over the past year and invite them to do the same. This experience of sharing not only offers the psychological benefits of authenticity, but also provides the time for to collectively reflect and brainstorm potential solutions.
Joy can be what psychologists call “affiliative,” meaning that positive experiences are magnified by sharing them with the people around us. To cultivate stronger relationships as you head back to the office, consider engaging in walking meetings or volunteering to mentor a younger coworker. These experiences build trust and will help you find deeper meaning in your work day.
Just like with our home lives, family ties, and hobbies, our relationship with work fluctuates over time. Many people have experienced a professional lull during the pandemic, but as Newton puts it, “simple practices like these may help us prepare for and pursue joy in the season ahead — whatever it may hold.”