There is something about being in a work environment that can really press our buttons. Whether it’s the tight deadlines, the demanding boss, balancing work and home, office politics, criticism of your work project, or simply just having a bad night’s sleep, can make the difference to how a simple comment or request can overwhelm and feel like it is all just too much to handle.
Work can have a real knack of firing up our emotions and it can often feel overwhelming and a little like a pressure cooker that’s close to explosion.
I know when I used to work in Marketing, that managing emotions at work, sometimes felt like a job in itself. The unrealistic meeting requests that imposed on my out-of-work life were more than a regular occurrence. Jane* felt just like that; ” I was breaking up with my boyfriend out of work and really had to hold it together in work with an ever demanding boss and looming deadlines, it increased my anxiety and I frequently needed to go to the toilet to let out a few tears. It got to the point when I thought of quitting as I couldn’t stand the pressure.”
How Jane* felt is more common than we like to think.
There is something about wanting to achieve and do our best, in an environment that can sometimes feel as if it hasn’t progressed much from the playground, this can leave us wondering what to do.
What is emotion all about?
When I was training to be a coach, it was explained to me that emotions are energy in motion and energy needs to move and shift. Emotions give us information on how we are doing and whether our needs (physical and emotional) are being met. When we suppress and avoid emotions it takes our energy away from us and also gets stuck in our body- this can create ailments over time. By not allowing and avoiding certain emotions we can hold ourselves back from living life to the full.
Some small steps to help you get back on track
So here are a few tips on how you can handle your emotions at work;
- Breathe- It sounds almost too simple, but the simple act of bringing your focus and attention back to your breathe can make a real difference. Try the simple exercise of breathing in for a count of four and out to the count of seven. By breathing a longer out breath, it makes our bodies calm down and by focusing on your breath it brings you back into your body and out of your head.
- Take time out- a walk round the park at lunch or even a longer trip to the toilet can help give you a bit of space and crucial perspective.
- Have something on your desk to remind you of who you are and what’s important to you- it can be as simple as a photo, postcard, plant or memento from a time that made you feel good- by doing this it helps remind you of what’s important to you.
- Shake it out- go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed and shake out the energy in your body- start with your arms and legs and allow your body to move to release the energy- this helps get you back into your body and out your head.
- Write it down-the act of writing down what you are feeling is a great way of releasing pent up emotions. Reading it back afterwards can help you reflect on your trigger points and help you consider how to change things moving forward. The act of simply writing it down and knowing the words and feelings are out of you, helps make you feel better.
- Find a confidante at work- having a sympathetic friend at work you can let off steam with can really help manage emotions. If you feel that there is not a trustworthy person to speak to at work then visit our community for anonymous support & guidance from others in similar situations.
- Establish boundaries- spend a little time reflecting on what is and isn’t acceptable for your in work, and then brainstorm what you small steps you could take to honor your boundaries. For example, if you know that you always get adhoc last minute requests on a Thursday afternoon before your dance class, schedule in a regular meeting with yourself that blocks out a chunk of time to deal with adhoc requests- this can help take the pressure off when it happens and helps you fulfil your needs.
- Get into the habit of naming the emotions you are feeling- this can start off as simple as mad, bad, glad, sad and over time when you are good at this, start using other emotion descriptors to nail what you are feeling, this helps bring our awareness to what’s going on inside.
- Take a few moments out in the toilet or somewhere quiet and bring your focus and attention to your body- where do you feel the emotion? Does it have a colour or shape? Now imagine it softening and flowing and moving, where would it move to? Bring your attention to this and allow it to happen. This all helps bring you back into the moment and process the emotion felt.
- Speak to a sympathetic manager-if there is a particular reoccurring problem, it may be worth speaking to your boss or someone who is sympathetic and in a senior position to help as there may be a solution.
- So here are my few tips, how do you manage your emotions at work? What helps keep you on track? It would be great to hear your tips. If you want to discover some more tips for managing workplace stress then visit Video Moods for advice at the touch of a button whenever you need it.
If work really is getting you down, you may simply be in the wrong job. To discover what job may be suited to you visit our self discovery page for eBooks on this subject. If, however, you have already made the decision to start a new job visit our Tools for Life section for a eBook guide to getting prepared for your new job including interview tips, CV advice and applications right through to advice for your first day.
*Names are changed