The workplace can be a stressful place. Anxiety, conflict, bad management, overwork and more can lead to frustration and other types of distress. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you calm down. First, take a moment to focus on your breath and engage your body. Similarly, stimulate your senses for a simple, positive effect on your mood. Finally, a handful of other ways to adjust your mindset can also help you calm down at work.
EditRelaxing Your Body
- Slow down your breathing. Deep, measured breathing can calm your mind and your body considerably. If you’re sitting somewhere with privacy, place your hand on your abdomen and breath in deeply for five seconds. Breathe deeply enough for your hand to rise visibly. After a pause, slowly exhale until you don’t have any breath left.
- Focus on breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- If you’re in the presence of others, simply mentally count to five while breathing in, and count to five again while exhaling.
- Try to think only about your breath, pushing other thoughts away without assessing them.
- Engage your body at your workstation. If you’re unable to leave your work area, stand and stretch for a moment. You can also roll your head, shoulder, and ankles while sitting. Muscle tension exercises can help you calm down too.
- Focus on one particular muscle or muscle group at a time. For instance, start by scrunching all of your face muscles as tightly as you can for twenty seconds and slowly releasing them.
- Then move down to your neck, and so on, all the way down to your toes.
- Raise your heart rate. If possible, sneak off to the stairwell for one or two sets of jumping jacks. The endorphins that your body releases when exercising can have a potently relaxing effect on your mood. Even better, step outside for a brief, brisk walk.
- A short walk outside offers the opportunity to breathe, move, and stimulate many of your senses all at once.
EditEngaging Your Senses
- Keep something you like to look at within sight. A photo of a loved one or a favorite personal memento are the best examples. Keep such an item somewhere you can glance at it whenever you wish to do so. A vase of flowers on your desk is another good example.
- If there’s nothing in your immediate vicinity to look at, imagine a place or person you enjoy and picture them in your head. This type of simple mental imaging can help calm you down.
- Try vocal toning. Vocal toning is a practice that can reduce the amount of stress hormones in your system. It is similar to making the “ohm” sound that is popular with yoga practitioners. Find somewhere private and quiet to try it out.
- Sit up straight and make an “mmmm” sound while keeping your lips together and your teeth a bit apart.
- Though this may seem silly at first, the breathing and the vibrations that this leads to can cause pleasant sensations in your face, heart, and stomach.
- Listen to something you enjoy. If you’re generally on edge or otherwise anxious at work, a bit of soothing background noise can help calm you down. Singing or humming along with a tune can be especially effective, but so can simply listening to music you enjoy.
- Soundtracks of nature noise(s) can also be reliably soothing. You can find all sorts of recordings of waves, wind, and birds online.
- Even better, equip your workplace with a small fountain and enjoy the sound of bubbling or running water.
- Smell, touch, or taste something enjoyable. Stimulating your other senses with sensations you enjoy can also help calm you down. Keep things like a scented candle, a stress ball to hold, or a healthy and enjoyable snack in your work area, if possible.
- It’s important to note a difference between stress eating and stimulating your sense of taste to help calm down. For instance, you don’t want to crush a bag of chips every time your blood starts to boil. That said, chewing a piece of gum might just do the trick!
EditDealing with Frustration
- Talk it out with a sympathetic party. In addition to mindful breathing, talking to someone is a great way to calm down. Face-to-face interaction with someone else that is relaxed is especially helpful, particularly when it is someone you trust.
- Meanwhile, good communication with your professional peers is vital. If you and another co-worker are consistently frustrated with one another, set up a time to speak with them. Say something like, “Hey, Sarah, let’s sit down sometime soon and chat to make sure we’re on the same page about our upcoming project.”
- Be careful of venting. Talking about the frustrations and problems to someone else in the office can relieve negative feelings. It can be useful. However, venting to a co-worker may blow up if your boss overhears you or someone hears you complaining. Also, simply venting is not helpful if it is not followed up by action to actually address the problem.
- Reassure yourself verbally. Whatever the cause of your distress, it can be helpful to remind yourself that the world isn’t ending. Thinking to yourself, “This is only temporary,” can be a surprisingly effective way to calm down. Even better, state this phrase or something like it to yourself out loud.
- Your thoughts as well as your words affect both the way you feel, as well as how you behave. Reassuring yourself can not only calm you down, it can help you get in a better mindset to proceed with your day.
- Other simple reassuring statements that might work include, “I’m okay,” and “This is going to work out.”
- Write down the reason you are upset. Forcing yourself to address the specific reason you are upset can help you calm down. The best way to try to figure out exactly what’s bothering you is trying to write it down.
- Not only is the act of writing itself calming, getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper can help clarify an issue you’re having.
- Writing down your thoughts can even help you determine the best way to address the source or your frustration or anxiety and move forward.
- Re-frame frustrating scenarios in a way that amuses you. You may be able to laugh at yourself by stepping back and reassessing stressful or frustrating experiences. To increase your ability to do so, come up with a way to head-off potential frustrations by contextualizing them humorously.
- One particular option: make a Bingo card that includes all of the things about work that frustrate you from time to time. Next time any of those things happen, you may wind up chuckling while you mark your Bingo card instead of getting worked up.
- Fake calmness. Though this one may be a bit challenging, it’s worth noting that it can actually work. Focus on controlling your emotions and acting as though you are not upset. Your mindset will sometimes shift to match the way you’re acting.
- Seek professional help. If you consistently struggle with stress, frustration, or anger, it’s worth speaking with a mental health professional. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking assistance handling your emotions, and you’re likely to wind up more calm, more content, and even more productive at work.
- Call your doctor for a recommendation about mental health professionals in your area.
- Alternatively, look online for forums or in-person support groups about work place frustrations. There are likely other people experiencing the same sort of struggles, and you may be able to support one another and exchange advice.