3 steps to refocus and prepare for a successful week at work

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Most of us who work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, are familiar with this routine: The moment you leave your office for the weekend, work becomes the last thing you want to think about.

But if work has been making you miserable and is a major cause of stress and unhappiness, you may benefit from doing this mental exercise on the weekend.

In the recently published book, "How To Be Happy At Work," happiness expert and best-selling author Annie McKee recommends you create a habit out of examining the negative feelings you get from work and make a concerted effort to instead tap into the positive emotions that support well-being and effectiveness.

According to research from the American Psychological Association (APA), about 58 percent of Americans cite work as a significant source of stress. Work has also remained a significant source of stress for Americans since the APA began its "Stress in America" survey in 2006.

McKee notes that emotions affect not only our bodies, but also our thoughts and actions, making it vital to pay close attention to our feelings and moods.

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"Sometimes negative emotions like fear, frustration and anger signal that something is really wrong," McKee writes, adding that the longer we keep these in our minds, the more we tend to blow these feelings out of proportion.

Once you carve out time during your weekend to reflect, here are three steps based off of McKee's research that will help you prepare for a successful upcoming week at work.

Think about the week ahead

Once you are out of your office doors, work might be out of sight and out of mind. Chances are if you are stressed over work, you are likely already thinking about it often. But worry not. Try to follow these questions as you think about work:

  • What gets your attention?
  • What do you look forward to?
  • What would you rather avoid?
  • Is anything causing you to feel anxious?

As you reconsider how you hope your work week plays out, "positive emotions will help your brain open up, " McKee notes.

"Reframing problems so they look like steps on the path to ultimate success makes us more confident, too," she writes. "If you train yourself to think this way, you are better prepared to deal with the bad things that happen at work."

Takes a few notes on yourself

Whether it's on a notepad or your phone's note section, prepare to jot down just a few lines about the questions you are asking yourself.

"Focus on something that worries or bothers you about your upcoming week and also on something you are eager to do, something that makes you feel excited and happy," McKee writes.

As you write about these things you anticipate, McKee also recommends noting not just what you are feeling, but also why you are feeling this way.

Consider what it takes to improve

Once you have addressed what has brought you stress and what you look forward to about your upcoming week, consider what will help you steer your feelings toward positivity.

"Ask yourself: Is it possible for me to focus more on what I am looking forward to at work during the upcoming week and less on what I am anxious about? What's stopping me?" McKee writes.

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Since improvement and positivity depends on your subjective view, also think about what happiness at work would look like for you.

McKee writes that she firmly believes happiness is possible for everyone and that it's even a human right.

She defines happiness as "deep and abiding enjoyment of daily activities fueled by Passion for a meaningful purpose, a hopeful view of the future and true friendships."

She adds that happiness isn't simply about feeling good in isolated moments, but ongoing experiences of joy, hope, excitement, empathy, altruism and overall well-being, among other attitudes and behaviors.

"If you make a habit of examining your work week like this, you will see that when you are hopeful and plan to enjoy what you're doing," McKee writes, "or when you are appropriately challenged to learn and grow, you will improve your ability to use your existing knowledge, adopt your perspective as situations change and use your emotional intelligence, too."

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