9 Reasons You NEED Happy Hour in Your Life ...

With the constant work grind taking over the lives of many everyday, it is easy to forget the reasons you need happy hour to push you through agonizing work weeks. Happy hour, generally beginning right after work and ending several hours later, is usually filled with half-priced small plates, reduced alcoholic beverages, and a little fun with co-workers or friends. In the event that you've allowed work to cloud your better judgment, here are the nine reasons you need to make time for happy hour during your work week.

1. Cheap Food

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One of the most enticing reasons you need happy hour in your life is the cheap food. I never enjoy my favorite appetizers and small plates at discounted prices. Said no one EVER. One of my favorite things about happy hours is variety of discounted food offered to patrons. While you may have to search for the best place to get the most bang for your buck, it's likely that no matter where you go, you will be able to find something on the menu that tickles your taste buds and makes your wallet jump for joy. Possibly the most popular discounted foods include chicken wings, nachos, and various flatbreads.

2. Cheap Drinks

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If you thought cheap food was the cat's meow, your ears will certainly perk up at the sound of drink specials. Whether a special drink menu has been created or some of your favorite drinks are offered half off, you can be sure that cheap drinks will be served during happy hour. Although you may only get the house wine or beers on tap for low prices at certain bars, you can still rejoice at spending a little bit of money for the opportunity to unwind after a long day. Tip: If you're into fancy drinks (martinis are my personal favs), try a "fancy" bar or lounge. No matter how upscale the place may be, if they offer happy hour specials, you're likely to get some of your favorite drinks for a much cheaper price.

3. Co-Worker Bonding Time

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It's hard to really bond with your co-workers during the day, considering everyone's primary goal is to work. Happy hours offer the perfect time to kick back and talk about things non-work related in a friendly environment. Be careful not to indulge in too many cheap drinks, however. You never want to be the talk of the office the next day for your intoxicated antics. Remember, these are still your co-workers. Have fun, but not TOO much fun.

4. Catch up with Friends

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If you often hear "We never see you anymore! You have no time for us!" from some of your best pals, happy hour is the perfect time to reconnect with them with while being sure not to take too much time out of your day. Grab a beer and a small plate and talk about the stresses of your day with the people who care the most.

5. Opportunity for Informal Networking

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Happy hours offer the best forum for organic networking opportunities. With guards let down and ties loosened, you'll be able to show off your winning personality to a group of strangers who may be able to help you progress in your career. If you just CAN'T warm up to the idea of "hanging out" after work for the sole purpose of enjoyment, think of happy hour as a working social gathering. *wink

6. Stress-Reliever

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Heading to a restaurant, bar, or lounge after work alone is the perfect way to decompress and reflect on the day while preparing for the next one. Sit at the bar and catch up on sports or the news while enjoying your cheap meal and cheap drink. You'll thank me later. Trust me.

7. Balanced-Life

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A little life-balance never hurt anyone. In fact, Kay-studies (haha!) show that those who have a quality work-life balance are overall more productive in life. While it's true that the only way to accomplish all your goals is to work at them steadily, everyone needs balance. Don't believe me? Try it once and let me know how much more balanced your life feels. *wink

8. Have a Little Fun

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Going hand-in-hand with the life balance is the need to a have a little fun. One of the primary reasons you need happy hour is that you NEED something else going on in your life besides work. Close the laptop, turn off the phone, and enjoy company or your time alone in a public setting. Many happy hour spots offer karaoke, pool, or darts to work a little fun into your work-week. Engage in a little friendly competition with co-workers, friends, or strangers to take your mind off work and help propel you toward a more balanced life.

9. Breaks = More Productive Lifestyle

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You're guaranteed to be more productive if you take a break sometimes. Although a vacation may not be in the cards for you just yet, a couple hours away from your work will give you a clear head and may help you to solve problems that you were not able to solve before. You will likely see an increase in your overall productivity if you actively take a couple breaks throughout the week. Happy hour is one of the best ways to facilitate those breaks.

Even if you aren't into alcoholic beverages, happy hours are still a great place to enjoy co-workers and friends over cheap food or some fun games. Know of some great happy hour spots in your city that you just have to share? Comment and let me know!

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