How To Calm Yourself Down At Work
Work can be a major source of stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, when we’re at work, it’s not always possible to just leave and get a massage or go for a run. Developing skills to help you calm yourself at work can improve your communication with your colleagues. It can boost your productivity and your satisfaction with your career.
- Take a break
If you work in an office even if its a home office a change of scenery can do you good. Take a quick walk or run some errands. Breaking from your routine will naturally give you some emotional and physical distance to process why you’re upset.
- Do something not work related
If you find yourself triggered or upset during a meeting , try doing something else. In virtual meetings, go off-camera, color, draw, or squeeze a stress relief ball. For in-person meetings try massaging the palm of your hands or flexing your toes one by one. You can also practice mindful, deep breathing without anyone noticing.
- Set up a soothing workspace
If work is a source of chronic stress, set it up to be anxiety optimized. Declutter your desk, keeping only what makes you feel good or inspires you. Try adding a supportive mantra, an essential oil diffuser, or a small plant to your workspace. Move close to a window if possible.
Tense Your Toes And Then Relax Them
To quickly relieve feelings of anxiety, try progressive muscle relaxation: Gradually tense up different muscle groups and then relax them. Its best to start with your toes and work your way up.
Researchers believe that tensing and then relaxing specific muscle groups can help boost our awareness of our bodies and our tense areas, leaving us feeling more relaxed.
Focus On Solutions Rather Than Problems
Much like venting, heres another reaction thats common when you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or angry: continuing to go over and over that problem in your head, rehashing things until you finally explode.
By now youve established that theres a problemwhether it has something to do with you personally, involves a disagreement between you and another team member, or is related to something else entirely.
Theres an issue.
Could you continue to emphasize that issue and talk about it until youre blue in the face?
Of courseand youre probably embarrassed to admit that youve done that plenty of times in the past.
But, that strategy wont actually accomplish anything for you. Rather than continuing to focus on the problem, you need to aim the spotlight on potential solutions.
Lets illustrate the power of this by returning to our original example, where you and a co-worker are in a disagreement about the order of that report that you worked so hard on.
Thats the problem: You cant agree on the appropriate order of sections and pages for that report.
Now, there are a few potential solutions here:
Your teammate probably isnt a big fan of the first option, while youre probably rolling your eyes at the secondneither one of you wants to let go of your opinion completely.
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Gain Power And Calm With A Superman Pose
If you do Bikram yoga, the Superman pose is basically the full Locust position , except the arms and the hands are stretched out in front of you, not to the sides. You lie on your belly on the floor and extend your arms in front of you. At the same time, you extend your legs behind you and hold them straight out. Hold that pose for 10 seconds. Its a great exercise if you are groggy, overexcited, distracted, or antsy.
Resist The Urge To Vent
Your colleague is driving you up a wall.
Whats one of the first things you want to do in attempts to offload some of that stress?
If youre like most people, youll pull one of your trusted team members aside and debrief him of the situation. Youll vent about all of your complaints and frustrations, with the assumption that getting all of those thoughts out there will help you feel better.
But, take a minute to think about what happens to you physiologically when you fill your co-worker in.
As you relive that situation, your heart starts racing, you get short of breath, your face gets flushedand, before you know it, youre even more worked up than when you started.
One study published by the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology concludes that verbalizing your anger doesnt lessen your angerin fact, it only makes it worse.
First, complaining simply keeps negative events in our minds for longer. Its hard to forget about an annoyance while youre bitching about it,
-says Jessica Stillman in her article for Inc. that reported on the study.
Second, bad energy is catching. You can complain to the wrong person, dragging an innocent into a negative situation or sparking office drama,
But even if you direct your venting at fellow sufferers, theyre likely to feel worse too after hearing your moaning,
As tempting as venting might be, remember that it doesnt actually accomplish anything good for you or the people you work with.
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Guided Imagery Or Visualization
Imagine yourself lying on a sandy beach with a soft breeze gently stirring the warm air. Use your senses to smell the saltwater and feel the sun as you transport yourself there. Thats guided imagery or visualization.
It uses the power of your mind to change your focus to a peaceful time or event.
If were in a stressful situation, you know, just shifting our mind and focusing on a time when we were really, really relaxed is an effective way to calm down, Brown says.
How To Calm Yourself Down
People, can we talk about how we started to think life was going to go back to normal, and now its totally not…like, maybe ever? Parents and teachers are still floundering in the abyss of remote, at home, and hybrid learning. Were talking about masking like its the will they or wont they plot line from Friends.
That initial two week quarantine is quickly turning into the Self-Transcendence race . Nerves are frayed. No end in sight.
So I decided to create something I call The Calm Down Sequence, a checklist for how to calm yourself down. I created this mainly for myself because I need all the help finding serenity that I can get. Serenity now!
Here it is. How to calm yourself down as much as is reasonable in the face of unrelenting stress and anxiety.
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Do Something You Enjoy
When youre stuck in a stressful situation in the office, its easy to spiral into negativity. However, thats only going to exacerbate that situation. Your negative outlook will make it that much tougher to eventually have a productive and positive conversation.
Instead, while youre taking your time out from that period of conflict, give yourself a brief break to do something you enjoy.
Maybe that means listening to your favorite song or flipping through some recent photos of your family on your phone. Perhaps it involves calling a close friend or your partner to check in or even going for a walk outside to get some fresh air.
After spending even just a few minutes focused on something that brings you joy and pleasure, some of that stress and anxiety will begin to melt away.
That way, you can return to that conversation when necessary with a more positive outlookrather than coming back with even more anger and pent-up aggression.
Why This Technique Works
Stress is a mental or physical tension, and both manifest from your relationship to the procession of thoughts in your head.
Mindfulness allows you to step out of the procession and watch it go past, without being carried down the fast-flowing river.
When we get pulled down a heavy stream, our emotions and bodies react as if the danger or pain contained in the thought is real, immediate, and must be dealt with now. Thats why we feel discomfort even when someone reminds us of a stressful situation we were trying to forget.
Reconnecting with the present reminds us that here is the only time there really is.
Focusing on your hands is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that helps to ground the soul and provide stability in the physical body.
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Quick Stress Relief On The Go
In traffic. Play music or listen to an audiobook. Take a different route to see something new. Do neck-rolls at stoplights. Sing in the car to stay awake and happy.
Public transportation. Take a break from reading, cell conversations, and music to tune into the sights and sounds around you. Try noticing something new, even if youre on the same old bus ride.
Running errands. Wear a special perfume or lotion so you can enjoy it while you rush from place to place. Carry a stress ball in your pocket. Take a mental snapshot or postcard at each destination.
Waiting in lines. Instead of worrying about time slipping away, focus on your breathing. People watch. Chat with the person ahead of you. Chew a stick of minty gum.
How To Calm Yourself In Two Minutes
Take a moment right now to make yourself comfortable and try these four steps yourself:
1. Freeze yourself.
Remember the game you played as a child when you suddenly stopped mid-motion, like you were frozen in ice? Do that now. Halt your body parts, emotions, and thought processes. Think of yourself as a cartoon character thats been hit with a stun gun. You can even make it a little dramatic if it helps.
2. Focus on your index finger.
. For twenty to sixty seconds, concentrate solely on the back of your index finger. Let your mind and body be consumed by it.
Bring it closer to you. Study the rivets, creases, and those tiny little fingerprint lines. If your situation is noisy, let the sounds around you merge into a single background buzz, and let it fade out of your attention.
3. Take a conscious breath.
Let go of your focus and check back in with your body. Take a deep, conscious breath in, then let it go through your mouth, slowly and calmly, creating a wave of relaxation that starts in your chest and floats out through your being to the surface of your skin.
4. Look around consciously.
As you re-integrate with your surroundings, scan the scene in front of you. Remain as indiscriminate as possible with what you focus on the way you would when waking up in the morning.
Take conscious note of the thoughts that are trying to push back into your head and observe them with an attitude of curiosity.
How do you feel?
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Ways To Calm Down And Decrease Stress Levels
Stress. Weve all experienced it. For some folks its intermittent, for others its relentless and flat-out exhausting. When stress threatens to completely overwhelm, millions of people turn to what they believe is the quickest fix they can grab a pill or a glass of wine to help bring them back down to earth. Though it may seem like a reasonable solution, do it a bit too much and you start to lose touch with your ability to calm or comfort yourself naturally. Take it a bit further and youre looking at dependence or even addiction to substances that can destroy your bodys health.
To bust stress fast, as in right now, you dont have to hit the bottle. Instead, try any one of the following better, faster, healthier, portable, and prescription-free ways to physically manage stress fast. As Seinfelds Frank Costanza use to say, Serenity now! and heres where to start:
How To Cultivate A Calm State Of Mind
We know how to become stressed. Most of us are really good at activating our adrenal system and getting wound up. The question becomes, then, how do you wind down? Research suggests several practices that not only feel good but also put us into a calmer, more relaxed statea state from which we can cope better with whatever life throws at us.
1. Breathing. Jake, who appears in my book The Happiness Track, was a U.S. Marine officer in charge of a Humvee on a convoy across Afghanistan, when his vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device. After the explosion, he looked down and saw that his legs were severely fractured below the knee. In that moment of shock, terror, and pain, he remembered a breathing exercise that he had read about for extreme wartime situations.
It allowed him to do his duty, which was to check on everyone else in the vehicle. It gave him the presence of mind to give orders to call for help, and to then tourniquet his own legs and prop them up before he fell unconsciouswhich saved his life.
Our breathing is a powerful way for us to regulate our emotions, and it is something we take for granted. Through your breath, you can activate your parasympathetic nervous systemthe calming response in your body.
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Inhale Deeply For A Relaxing Bubble Breath
My favorite exercise in Brukners book is the Bubble Breath, because it is so simple and calming. Here’s how to do it:
- Breathe in for five seconds, out for five seconds.
- Imagine you have a wand with a bubble on it. When you breathe out, be careful not to pop the bubble.
- Place one flat palm on your heart, one flat palm on your belly.
- Breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for five seconds.
- Breathe out a large bubble through pursed lips, blow out for five seconds.
Tip : Identify Your Stress Response
Internally, we all respond the same way to the fight-or-flight stress response: your blood pressure rises, your heart pumps faster, and your muscles constrict. Your body works hard and drains your immune system. Externally, however, people respond to stress in different ways.
The best way to quickly relieve stress often relates to your specific stress response:
Overexcited stress response: If you tend to become angry, agitated, overly emotional, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
Underexcited stress response: If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and energizing.
The immobilization or frozen stress response
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Quick Stress Relief At Home
Entertaining. Prevent pre-party jitters by playing lively music. Light candles. The flicker and scent will stimulate your senses. Wear clothes that make you feel relaxed and confident.
Kitchen. Ease kitchen stress by breathing in the scent of every ingredient. Delight in the delicate texture of an eggshell. Appreciate the weight of an onion.
Children and relationships. Prevent losing your cool during a spousal spat by squeezing the tips of your thumb and forefinger together. When your toddler has a tantrum, rub lotion into your hands and breathe in the scent.
Sleep. Too stressed to snooze? Try using a white noise machine for background sound or a humidifier with a diffuser for a light scent in the air.
Creating a sanctuary. If clutter is upsetting, spend 10 minutes each day to tidy. Display photos and images that make you feel happy. Throw open the curtains and let in natural light.
Listen To Silence And Focus On Spaces
Silence and spaces are both nothingness. Nothingness is a mystery to the mind. Its not something that can be comprehended by the five senses. Concentrating on nothingness will make your mind calm and receptive. You can think about nothingness when relaxing or before going to sleep.
Mindfulness is the key to serenity and true happiness. True happiness is a happiness that is not dependent on outer situations. We hear of enlightened people from time to time. These are people who have taken their time to discover the true potential of being human. And they have given us the answers time and time again.
Everything is inside us. All the questions and answers are inside of us. Heaven and hell are within us. We decide what we get. Its time to change our approach and start focusing on our inner world. Its time to take control of our minds and bodies. You can start your journey today by using the tips discussed above.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
Practicing mindfulness can help you become more aware of your emotions and create a way to understand and deal with them more efficiently. If youre in the habit of reacting to your emotions quickly, practicing mindfulness is one of the best zen techniques to reach your highest potential and can help alter your immediate response. If you erupt when you get angry, mindfulness can help you pause for a moment and think about how youre going to act and respond.
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Use Logic To Challenge Your Fears
Intense feelings of anxiety and stress that come on quickly often stem from irrational thoughts. You might start to focus on only the worst possible outcome or spiral into a chorus of what-ifs that play into your deepest fears.
In these moments, try to talk yourself out of it by using logic to challenge your anxiety. Ask yourself questions like these:
- Whats the evidence that this is true?
- Whats the probability that what Im worried about will actually happen? Whats the probability that it wont happen?
- How will worrying about this help me?
- How would I handle the worst thing that could happen?
- What would I say to a friend worrying about this right now?
Once you answer these questions, you can start to think more positively and coach yourself through any lingering negative feelings.