Now that 2018 is just around the corner, perhaps you're a person who prescribes to a growth-mindset. You're looking for innovative ways to improve your well-being, get that productivity edge, and maybe achieve more balance and wisdom in life.  

If so, I want to recommend that you start smart and implement some (or all) of these techniques for a better, and happier life. But fair warning: Some of these strategies may positively stretch you, or your belief system.

1. Detach from your work.

Science has found that people who simply unplug and detach from work on their downtime recover from stress faster and increase their productivity. Some recommended activities in the recovery phase include exercise, walks in nature, and picking up a hobby not related to work.

According to research by Sabine Sonnentag and Adam Grant, another way to recharge and recover faster from work--and raise happiness levels--is to think and reflect on the positive things about your workday the previous day (or week) that benefited other people.

2. Work in a setting with natural light.

A study titled, "Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life," concluded that there is a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and office workers' sleep, activity and quality of life. It also showed that employees have greater interest in their work and represent more loyalty to their company..

If your workplace isn't infused with daylight and plenty of windows with views to the outside world, you may be taking on more stress than usual. Natural daylight can act as a buffer against the negative impact of job stress and positively impact general well-being.

Research from Human Spaces has shown that proximity to natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, was associated with a 15 percent increase in improved well-being and creativity, and 6 percent higher productivity.

According to HOK, a global design, architecture and engineering firm, better workplace lighting (both natural daylight and artificial light) was linked to a 15 percent reduction in absenteeism in office environments. 

3. Get regular naps.

In The Best Place to Work, psychologist Ron Friedman says 20-30 minute naps have been proven to boost productivity, increase alertness, quicken motor reflexes, raise accuracy, improve decision-making, enhance creativity, and bolster memory. 

2002 Harvard University study found that a thirty-minute nap boosted the performance of workers, returning their productivity to beginning-of-the-day levels.

Yahoo! and Time Warner outsource their napping to local spas that allow employees to recharge in private rooms, complete with aromatherapy and a selection of nature soundtracks. Zappos, Ben & Jerry's, and even Nike designate in-office "quiet rooms" for employees to sleep or meditate.

"It's really important for the company to have happy, healthy employees so we can all do our best," Ben & Jerry's spokesperson Liz Brenna told ABC News

4. Practice forgiveness.

We may forgive our spouses or kids after a wrongdoing, but lets be real. Forgiveness is rarely discussed or formally embedded into the DNA of corporate culture. But it should be.

New research has been published about the positive impact of forgiveness to potentially improve well-being and productivity in the workplace.

In one study involving more than 200 employees from both office and manufacturing jobs, forgiveness was "linked to increased productivity, decreased absenteeism (fewer days missing work), and fewer mental and physical health problems, such as sadness and headaches."

As Greater Good reports, this new research is important because it raises our awareness about potential outcomes when the people we work with hold on to negative feelings after a conflict. If they can't cope by forgiving, you can expect the likelihood of disengagement, a lack of collaboration, and aggressive behavior.

When we learn and master this virtuous practice as an organizational value, forgiveness can be an effective way to restore trust and set things right with colleagues and bosses alike so you're running on all cylinders again.

Forgiveness also extends outwardly to impact others not involved in the conflict. When colleagues observe others practicing forgiveness, research says it often "fosters positive emotions that can improve decision-making, cognitive functioning, and the quality of relationships."

5. Express gratitude.

Positive psychologist Shawn Achor, best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage, says that by simply expressing gratitude for two minutes a day for a period of 21 straight days, it's the fastest way to learn optimism. Two minutes!

This activity trains your brain to scan for positives instead of negatives. It will significantly improve your optimism even six months later, and raises your success rates significantly.

In fact, as a result of raising your optimism, Achor says your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, and your energy level rises -- giving you a clear, competitive advantage at work.

The clincher? Achor says the brain at this state can increase productivity by 31 percent. We're talking about a 2-minute gratitude exercise. If you want a more concise plan-of-action with a to-do list on these principles, I wrote this article specifically for you. Start applying it today.

6.  Choose the humble act of "surrender."

This will be the most counter-intuitive technique of all, especially for ambitious, driven, type-A's (I'm one of them, but it has worked for me). The act of surrender does not imply waving the white flag and admitting defeat or failure. Rather, it's being resilient enough to fall, bounce back, trust the process, and surrender to the outcome.

It's believing that something greater than you -- your Higher Power -- is in control even when you're not. It's having a fixed optimism to believe that things will work out according to your purpose, in due time.

The process of surrender is much easier when in the company of people you can trust in that process -- trusted advisers, colleagues, friends, and family who will support you in your journey.

Leadership thinker and author Mike Myatt brilliantly captured my thoughts about surrender in this article in Forbes, where he states:

"You'll rarely encounter the words leadership and surrender used together in complementary fashion. Society has labeled surrender as a sign of leadership weakness, when in fact, it can be among the greatest of leadership strengths. Let me be clear, I'm not encouraging giving in or giving up--I am suggesting you learn the ever so subtle art of letting go."

Published on: Dec 7, 2017
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