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Happiness at Work, Cleaning up and Stepping it up: What We’re Reading This Week

Jan. 13, 2023
Some health and well-being news to help you start the year off right.

I am finally getting used to 2023. It always takes me a few weeks to make sure I say or write the correct year.

Every time the calendar changes, I think “Has it really been that long since x happened? Geez, the years are going so fast!” This January, I’m making a conscious effort to pause and settle in this January. It helps that a friend gifted me a five-year journal that affords me the opportunity to carve out a little space and reflect on each day.

I’ve accepted the gloomy grey skies, made more bearable with daily use of my happy light each morning.  I’ve made peace with the cold temperatures by making my favorite soups to warm up from the inside out.

It’s in this mindset that I read the news this week, so perhaps not surprisingly I was attracted to news about health and well-being. I hope you find them enlightening as well.

Also, as a reminder, OSHA’s annual adjustments to civil penalty amounts take effect Jan. 17. OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $14,502 per violation to $15,625 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $145,027 per violation to $156,259 per violation. Perhaps it’s a good time to remind your company that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Stop Pursuing Happiness

We spend a lot of time focused on being happy, which is why this article entitled “Why You Should Stop Trying to be Happy at Work” is so intriguing.

Author Susan Peppercorn explains that happiness, like other emotions, are fleeting. If you want to be happy, you’re going to constantly be chasing it. You’re also likely disappointed when you aren’t experiencing that emotional state.

Perhaps what we should be chasing instead is meaning. Peppercorn writes that research has found that making work meaningful is an effective, though underused, way to increase productivity, engagement and performance. In fact, a recent study found that a majority of people would be willing to take a pay cut for more meaningful work. (To be clear, we’re not advocating for pay cuts. A dozen of eggs are far too expensive these days!)

But it is interesting to take a deep dive into these emotions and their differences. They reflect a shift in mindset from how we consider our emotions, such as our feelings in the present moment versus more long term. Finding meaning is deep work. As such, it takes time.

Peppercorn offers ways to help find more meaning in your work. Now, with a fresh calendar and set of goals for the year, is a perfect time to sit and reflect. We hope you find more meaning in 2023—and that it alters your trajectory for the better.

Read the full article here.

Decluttering Your Space—and Your Mind

I enjoy watching ASMR videos of people on social media organizing the pantry and cleaning the kitchen. They’re soothing and oddly satisfying, even if my own stack of dishes in the kitchen sink is overflowing.

I know some people who are so focused or absorbed in their world that they don’t notice clutter. I am not one of them.

I had let papers accumulate for far too long at my desk. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until after I said “Enough.” I had a busy day, but I carved out 30 minutes to tackle my clutter. When I was done, I felt like I had just woken up from sleep; I had so much more energy and my mood completely changed.  

This article suggests I’m not alone, and that research shows that the state of your physical surroundings can influence or be influenced by your mental state. It’s a cyclical problem and can be tough to break through, especially for people who are neurodivergent.

KC Davis, a licensed professional counselor and author of the book “How to Keep House While Drowning,” says one way to get started is by shifting your mindset and setting more realistic expectations.

“I came away from this idea that it had to be all or nothing and just started thinking about function” when it came to cleaning, she told The New York Times. “When I think about ‘What do I need in the morning?’ all of the sudden I can get specific.” She makes sure she has enough clean dishes and counter space so that she can make breakfast, empties the trash and sweeps up any crumbs. “What feels like this big, unending task is actually just 20 minutes of my day,” she said.

The article feels like a balm. It helped me contextualize and understand why sorting through papers can be as exhausting and draining as physical exercise.

One thing I must keep reminding myself of is that my house is a home, a dwelling for me and my loved ones—both two and four-legged ones. That inherently comes with clutter. The trick is to keep it manageable, so it doesn’t affect your health. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Still, it’s good to remember that lots of fun can happen in messes, too.

Read the article here.

Get on Your Feet!

Going to the gym and using weightlifting equipment can be intimidating. But walking? Walking is easy. And, as it turns out, getting up and walking around is even more important to our health than we previously understood.

Five minutes of light walking every half hour can help alleviate some of the health risks associated with sitting for long stretches of the day, according to a study published Thursday in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. Prolonged sitting can increase the risk of chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease; it can also increase the risk of certain cancers.

Scientists don’t fully know why sitting is so bad for our health. The working theory is that muscles help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, so when we sit for too long, our muscles can’t operate optimally, said lead study author Keith Diaz to CNN.

Their research observed benefits of walking even at a speed of 1.9 miles per hour, slower than most people walk—meaning that the body can see reap benefits with nearly every step. In fact, Diaz and his colleagues found that just one minute of walking every hour was found to reduce blood pressure in study participants by a “sizable amount.”

Given that study participants were generally health adults, people with chronic conditions could reap even more health benefits of walking.

Or, to put it another way, “Sitting is an occupational hazard,” Diaz said.

If you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to take a walk. When you get back from your own walk, you can read the article here.  

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