Whoever said “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life” has clearly never worked longer than a 24-hour period. As much as we may want to deny it, the truth is, sometimes work simply, well, sucks.
Maybe a journalist just chewed you out for calling them for the third time. Or maybe a coworker just drank the last sparkling water in the fridge (something that would never happen at Action Mary, thanks to our bubbly finance manager). Or maybe you are just having a no good, very bad day, where the creative juices have run dry.
Whatever the reason, ruts happen, even in the span of a 9-5 job. Fortunately, there is always a way to turn that frown upside down. Here are just a few practical ways the Marys of Action Mary get themselves out of a mental bind at work… and you can, too!
1. Go find a dog on the street, and pet it like it is your own. If you ever visit the Action Mary headquarters, chances are you will run into one of our four-legged friends. Beyond being totally adorable, it turns out having pets in the office is good for the body. Research shows that the simple act of petting an animal can lower your blood pressure, helps your body release relaxation hormones, and can even reduce stress. Never underestimate the power of a furry friend!
2. Physically write out your to-do list and feel the sweet relief of crossing things off. While it may be tempting to keep your daily list of tasks on your phone, there is actually good reason to embrace your inner caveman and write it out. That is because when we experience any kind of success – such as crossing things off a to-do list – our brains release dopamine, which is connected to feelings of pleasure, learning and motivation.i
3. Watch a movie trailer – or read a film script. Action Mary Account Director, Jordan Curtis, swears by the magic of cinema to get him out of a rut. “I like to take a break and watch movie trailers on Apple Trailers,” he says. “I find that it helps reset my brain and reminds me that telling compelling stories is really what PR people and marketers should always try to do first.” Action Mary’s resident wordsmith (and Partner), Roger van Oosten, has a different take, opting to focus on the beauty of written words instead. “Whenever I get writer’s block, or need inspiration for a writing assignment or a pitch deck,” he says, “I go back and read the script to the 1937 movie, The Awful Truth, starring Cary Grant as Jerry Warriner and Irene Dunne as Lucy Warriner.” Whatever route you go, both are reel great ways to get out of that mid-day slump.
4. Host a mini brainstorm session. Sometimes, laughter isn’t the best medicine. It’s holding a mini brainstorm session, according to our Account Coordinator, Angel Ferrer. Taking 15 minutes to think as a team is a great, easy way to generate new ideas, take a break from what’s bothering you, think of new story angles, bond as a team and (hopefully) share a few laughs along the way.
5. Focus on the small stuff first, preferably with a coffee in hand. According to the greatest scholar of our time, Miley Cyrus, “There’s always gonna be another mountain” or so she says in her hit song, “The Climb.” That’s why it is more helpful for some to focus on the smaller tasks on your to-do list. Says Action Mary’s Shawn Shirey, “forcing myself to get motivated by conquering smaller tasks will sometimes get me out of the ‘I cant’s.’” If that doesn’t work, Shawn recommends getting yourself some of that liquid gold. “I’ll go get a latte, get jacked up on java, and usually, something good will come out of it,” he says. Cheers to that!
6. Get physical. While this may be the most controversial tip – because why be active when being lazy is so fun?! – Tracy Squillace, Action Mary Partner, will often opt to “sweat like a heathen in church” through exercise when she is feeling stuck. Luckily, just because you are at work does not mean you can’t get some good exercise. Take a break and walk around the block a few times. If you can plan ahead, bring a change of clothes and jog around the neighborhood on your lunch break, and then eat after. Which brings us to our next tip…
7. Eat something. “Carbs and coffee are easily my two dysfunctional coping mechanisms when I am in a rut,” says our Finance Manager, Maria Robinson. “It doesn’t need to be food, just something to put me in a good mood really, but food will do it.” After all, food should make us happy. Not doing so will only make you more irritable, exhausted, and distracted. So, bon appetit – so as to avoid unleashing wrath on everyone at work!
So there you have it. While you may not love what you do every single day, there are ways to make things more pleasant on the days when you are just not feeling it. Plus, happier people means happier work… and that’s one thing that simply never, well, sucks.