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Five steps to curb crankiness at work

Had (another) bad day at the office? Does the thought of clocking in have you cringing with anger? Does your work situation get your blood boiling? Anger. Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere. Be it a bad night’s sleep, an annoying email first thing in the morning, or a rough commute to the office, there are tons of triggers that can leave you steaming, especially on the job. Don’t let work ruin your mood, here are some tips to curb your crankiness.

Frustrated woman at work


Five tips to banish your bad mood at work

A 2005 study by Yale School of Management professor Sigal G. Barsade and Donald Gibson of Fairfield University showed that 1 in 4 Americans feel at least somewhat angry at work. That translates to a good part of your week — and life, for that matter — consumed with crankiness or, at worst, rage. You don’t have to settle for a sour mood at work. Following are five simple steps to put a stop to your anger.

1Just breathe.

Anger causes adrenaline to course through your veins, spiking your heart rate, blood pressure, and tensing up your muscles. Simple relaxation techniques can work to slow things down in your system, creating a calming effect. When your blood is boiling, stop what you are doing and take a long, deep breath from your diaphragm (picture the air rising up from your stomach). Count slowly to four as you breathe in, and then breathe out slowly as you count to eight, and repeat this for several minutes until you are sufficiently soothed.

2Choose your words (and thoughts) wisely.

Experts term this tactic “Cognitive Restructuring,” which is basically changing the way you think. Simply put: Do not be a defeatist. When you are angry, try replacing negative, destructive thoughts with more rational ones. For example, instead of thinking, “This is absolutely the worst traffic I have ever been in, and now that I am late, my day will be ruined,” tell yourself, “Yes, this is pretty awful, but it is not the end of the world and others will understand why I am late.” Finding a more balanced perspective will prevent peeved-off feelings from clouding the rest of your day.

3Talk it out.

Is your cube-mate’s constant chit-chat getting on your last nerve? Suggest taking a coffee break to air your differences. Try to keep things rational by calmly telling her your issue and listening carefully to her response. If things get heated, restrain from saying the first thing that comes into your head (remember, you still have to see this person every day). Instead, focus on remedying the problem, or at least coming up with a resolution.

4Burn it off.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little sweat to get rid of stress and anger. During your lunch break (or at the first chance you get), lace up your sneakers and go for a run or a walk around the block. Not only will you benefit from the fresh air, you will get to bask in your endorphins and have some time think through the sore situation. Another option is to hit the gym and find your Om, try yoga-like exercises to relax your muscles and calm you down.

5Express yourself.

If all else fails, vent! Take a few minutes to chat with your closest confidant or someone else who will constructively listen and let off steam about what has got you fuming (preferably, this person does not work with you). Writing your thoughts can also be helpful. Open up a blank document on your laptop and fire off your misgivings. Consider it an open email to your enemy, which you would never send, of course! Expressing your anger to a neutral party can help you release your ire and allow you to move on.

While anger is a natural emotion, it can also be destructive. If you feel like your foul feelings are having a constant negative effect on your relationships or job, you might want to consider counseling. For more information, check out the resources provided by the American Psychological Association and Anger Alternatives.

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