For many of us it’s a constant challenge to maintain a positive mood with growing to do lists, and continuous change and distractions at work. Many employees are unduly worried by things they can’t control, which can lead to excessive stress and lost productivity.
This is compounded if long hours also restrict the time that can be spent on rejuvenation strategies, which are essential to bouncing back from setbacks.
Leadership teams need to be acutely aware of the mental wellbeing of managers and employees as it is critical to business improvement.
Positive mood is directly linked to productivity and creativity, and our mood is determined by the actions (or inactions) we take each week.
What is negatively impacting employee mood? We recently asked 470 managers and employees what were their biggest mood vampires in the previous week.
Whilst there are clearly a lot of elements that impact our mood, it was interesting to see the most prevalent. Although these mood vampires were self-nominated, they are also validated by science. The top 6 are:
- Lack of quality sleep – 60%
Getting a good night’s sleep is like hitting the reset button. From a health, memory, and appearance standpoint we need somewhere between 7 and 8 hours sleep each night. Our busyness and distracted life combined with low levels of exercise can contribute to difficulty sleeping. Short duration sleepers are 35% more likely to experience substantial weight gain.
- Not enough exercise – 56%
Mayo clinic research shows that just a 30 minute brisk walk is enough to improve our mood for up to 12 hours compared to those who don’t exercise. All of us can make time for a walk before or after work or at lunch time.
- Financial stress – 41%
Material wealth is not the best predictor of financial wellbeing – it is financial security – knowing that you have enough to pay for your desired lifestyle and are prepared for unexpected events – this is 3 times more significant than income alone. According to a Harvard study, spending money on ourselves is not linked to wellbeing, but spending money on others is.
- Not enough “me time” – 40%
We all need alone time to focus on one thing that is really important to us. For some people that is a reading or a hobby, for some it is exercising, and for others it is time with loved ones. Ideally we can identify something that helps us recharge.
- Not enough quality time with family and friends – 40%
The longest longitudinal wellbeing study is the Harvard Grant study which has followed the same group of men for over 75 years. The one critical finding from this study is that the best predictor of health, happiness, long life, and financial wellbeing is “warm relationships”. It is imperative to make time for those who are good for us.
- Not counting my blessing enough – 39%
Gratitude is a proven way to enhance wellbeing. Writing 3 things down that we are grateful for before we go to bed for 7 days in a row has been shown to improve mood for up to 6 months (according to research by Martin Seligman).
If we know the things that are negatively impacting our mood, why don’t we do something about it? Often lots of little things stop us doing the important big things. We are better partners, better parents, better work colleagues, and better friends when we are in a positive mood.
If you would like to improve your mood, I would recommend choosing one thing to take action on over the next 90 days. How can we improve the likelihood of moving from intention to action?
Peter Gollwitzer, is a psychology professor from New York University who specializes in how to go from intention to action. He gave some undergraduate students a challenging assignment leading into the Christmas break. They had to write a one page essay about what they did on Christmas Eve, and had to submit the assignment by 6pm on December 26. He was not concerned about the quality of the assignment, but who did it or not. He divided the class into 2 groups.
One group was given one extra instruction and had a 300% higher success rate at submitting the assignment. The group who had the much higher execution rate were also asked to think about when and where they would do the assignment.
If you would like to increase the likelihood of doing something to improve your mood, decide when and where you are going to do something about it.
To lead a rewarding and fulfilling life, we need to have rituals that lead to the right actions each day.
If you are interested in creating the right rituals each day, you may be interested in a public workshop in Sydney on September 1 which is geared towards helping you to master your mood: LEADING THRIVING TRIBES: 5 rituals to increase your – and your tribe’s mental agility and resilience.