Work can be stressful, especially if you’re in a management position or in a field that really stretches you thin. The last thing you want to happen is for your temper to ruin a relationship, cost you your job, or damage the reputation of yourself and your business.
Even if you don’t have anger management issues, you should take the necessary precautions so that you’re always keeping your cool. The following tips will help you regulate your emotions so that they don’t compromise your work, your image, or your self-worth:
1. Give Yourself Buffer Time
Keeping your cool at work starts with your scheduling. High levels of stress will be your downfall, but there are measures you can take to prevent yourself from blowing over. Buffer time is the unsung hero of careful scheduling.
Instead of scheduling every appointment and meeting by the hour, give yourself some time in between each time commitment. This buffer time will come in handy when meetings run long, or unexpected circumstances cause your schedule to shift. In addition, a buffer will stop you from panicking in between meetings since you know you have some flexibility to go from commitment to commitment.
If your day is running smoothly and you don’t need to use your buffer time, plan some backup activities to fill the time. You can use spare minutes to review notes for an upcoming meeting or reply to some emails. This way, no matter what happens, your buffer time is of service to you.
2. Practice Meditation and Deep Breathing
If you can feel negative emotions taking control, one of the best things you can do is stop whatever you’re doing and take a few deep breaths. Slow, deep breaths help you to slow down your mind and think more clearly. So many mistakes are made hastily while emotions are high.
You can learn several breathing exercises, but the most important thing to do is lower your heart rate and shrug off any negative thoughts you’re having. Then, you can manually take deep breaths or follow a video or audio guide to working you through an exercise.
Meditation works similarly, often employing breathing exercises as part of a routine. In addition, meditation adds in words of affirmation, mantras, and other mental tricks to get your mental health back into gear.
3. Take a Break
Where a quick session of deep breathing and meditation falls short, a small break can make up the difference. While it’s admirable to have a work ethic that just won’t quit, there’s no shame in taking periodic breaks throughout the day.
Taking a couple of 10-15 minute breaks and a decent lunch helps to reduce burnout and ensures that you have the energy to be productive throughout your entire shift. Seven hours of hard work will beat out eight hours of sluggish feet shuffling any day of the week.
In addition to the boost in productivity, taking a step back to gather your thoughts and regain your composure will keep your emotions in check. Sometimes simply removing yourself from confrontation or problem is all you need to do to develop a mature and effective solution.
4. Take Time Off
Just as important as taking breaks throughout the workweek is taking time off from work from time to time. Vacation days are meant to be used, after all. Vacation time allows for a full mental reset, so your emotions don’t stay bottled up for dangerously too long.
Plan some “me time” in your Calendar for the days you take off. For example, take yourself to the spa, sleep in a little bit, or enjoy a calm nature walk for some sunshine and fresh air. This could be a good time to catch up with some friends if you need someone to talk to or simply crave a social atmosphere outside of the office.
You can also use your time off to be productive, like working on a start-up or catching up on some housekeeping. Just be sure to spend time doing activities that bring positive feelings such as fulfillment, encouragement, and peace. If your vacation days are equally stressful, you’ll clock back into work feeling worse off than when you left.
5. Talk it Out
Many people end up erupting while at work because they don’t talk to anyone about their problems. Bottling up emotions never ends well. Even before you start to feel anger and anxiety build up within yourself, you should be talking with others about your thoughts and concerns.
Professional Hint: don’t talk to other people at work about others who may bug you at work (that’s just a gossip chain, and unprofessional). Similarly, “confiding” in the boss about how a coworker dropped crumbs in the break room or didn’t finish their end of the job fast enough is manipulative and not what “talking it out” means.
You don’t have to go speak with your superiors and coworkers because one of your peers never refills the water cooler. Don’t let “human errors” nag at you for weeks and finally lose your cool. Instead of waiting for the eruption, calmly bring it up to your coworker and discuss a solution to help both parties make something work.
You might’ve thought about talking with a counselor or a therapist after reading that, and that’s totally OK. Regularly visiting a mental health professional is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, their knowledge and experience can help you work through many worries related to work or even your personal life that might be carrying over to the office.
You don’t have to pretend that negative feelings don’t exist or that you aren’t allowed to experience them. Life is full of ups and downs. What’s important is learning how to navigate through the rough patches of life and come out as a better person because of them.
My last best advice when things are going badly for you—look at funny cat photos—and sit there like a cool cat! Through sad experiences—I have learned not to have cool cats look on my face, though. The look has been misinterpreted as belligerent, thinking I know more than I do, rebellious against authority, and many other “shady” thoughts I was actually thinking—but trying to cover up.
Cool Cats Calm is what I go for!
By Hunter Meine