Let’s face it—these times can feel bleak. I'm sure you know but the total transformation of the job market, inflation, and an ongoing pandemic has made it difficult to find ways to be positive or grateful right now. And it’s not just these outside forces that cause all this stress and negativity!
Why do we struggle with being thankful?
Ask any therapist—humans are hardwired to bend to the negative (what’s called negativity bias) and it creates a downward spiral of consistent expectation of negative events, negative self-talk, and confirmation when all that negativity seems to come true IRL. Meanwhile, so many other great things might be happening to you and your loved ones, but you aren’t able to see it. It’s not just your problem—it’s everyone’s problem! We constantly compare ourselves to others and put more pressure on ourselves to do better and do more, endlessly reaching toward goals that, frankly, might not even be things we wanted in the first place.
No, we’re not saying walk through the world with toxic positivity glasses on (because that’s also harmful). We’re also not saying that any of this advice is a substitute for therapy. But it’s possible to find a balance between acknowledging the negative aspects and, when we’re ready, moving toward gratitude, even for the littlest things. It’s not easy and will require baby steps, but we’ve got some daily tips for ya.
- Take stock in your network
Think about how far you’ve come and the people you’ve met along the way—especially the people who’ve been there for you, sent jobs your way, recommended you for jobs, or listened to you vent and work out workplace issues. These are your people! Be grateful you’ve found them and, if you’re feeling it, reach out and reconnect. Even if you’re working remotely, there are ways to show appreciation in a straightforward and meaningful way. The cool thing about gratitude is that it will always come back to you, and, if you’re expressing it to multiple people, you’ll feel it come back tenfold...and probably when you need it most!
- Take a step back more often
Do you find yourself getting annoyed at even the littlest things? Are you too much in your head, especially from working remotely? Same. So how can we cultivate more patience and compassion toward our fellow workers or employers? Developing an ongoing practice of meditation is one method that many have found useful. Taking time to go inward and examine the stories you tell yourself about what’s going on can help you discern what truly matters and what doesn’t. Another way to find gratitude is through taking a gratitude walk. Corny as it may sound, a regular walk around the block to literally stop and smell (and appreciate) the flowers will help you refocus. You might find, after taking a breather, you’re able to recognize and empathize more with what your coworkers are going through and have more patience in the workplace.
- Cultivate mindfulness in your work
We know, we know, everyone is t-shirt gunning this phrase around these days while not explaining what it means. Here’s our take: Along with taking breaks, mindfulness at work is equally important to productivity and creative satisfaction. If you’re overworked or experiencing burnout, it’s going to be extra hard to enjoy and find gratitude in your work. In order to cultivate mindfulness, first, figure out how you work best. Do you need great music or complete silence? Do you need sunlight or a change of place, like a coffee shop or remote office? Find your ideal setting and make it a reality. Next, set time limits for work (we recommend 20-30 minute sprints). Finally, if you find yourself getting distracted in those sprints, take a breather and notice what’s happening. If you have to step away, step away. If you have to take a minute to journal, do it! Thinking about your thinking, just like meditation, can help you bring your attention back to the aspects of your job that you truly love.
When all else fails...
When you’re having the worst day and can’t immediately see anything to be happy about or grateful for, tune into your inner gratitoad and get silly. Dance to your favorite tracks. Sing your thoughts. Do some doodling. You might just discover something about yourself that makes you glow with gratitude.
Need more tips for self-care in the workplace? We got you:
- How to Prioritize Self-Care as a Freelancer
- 2021 Burnout: What is it and How can you prevent it?
- How to Avoid Becoming a Remote Work Zombie
- 6 Stress Relief Tips for Freelancers (or Anyone)
Psst, if you’re looking for a new gig, we have a lot of openings.