So we hear all about road-rage (and recently, in California, baseball-rage) but what about work rage?
We’ve all had those days. You know, the one where nothing goes right, you get chewed out for something that wasn’t your fault, your computer is slow or freezing every five minutes or, as is frequently the case with me, a colleague is driving you up the wall.
So the question is, how do we deal with these days? What should we do INSTEAD of beating our bosses, colleagues or computers up in the parking lot? How do we stay reasonable and sane when it feels like the universe is doing everything in its power to intentionally ruin our lives?
My go-to coping mechanisms (I would call them relaxation techniques, but honestly, I’m never truly relaxed at the office so that would be a lie) are as follows:
(1) Get outside or go for a walk. Sometimes a situation can get so unbearable that you actually need to leave the immediate vicinity. I’ll use running across the street for kombucha, errands or grabbing food as excuses to get out of my office. Just leaving your desk/office/cubicle can clear your head and freshen your perspective.
(2) Sometimes when I can’t get outside or when I only have five minutes until a call I’ll try some desk meditation. Close your eyes, put in headphones, and think about being somewhere else. Envision silence and a great expanse of nothingness where there’s no stress or frustration. Take deep breaths. Imagine the tension draining out of your limbs and being expelled from your body as you breath out (I use this technique when I have trouble relaxing at night too). Feel your heartbeats slowing to a manageable level. Feel yourself growing calm.
(3) Get it off your chest! I know this sounds like it could potentially be destructive and counterproductive to an upward career trajectory, but find someone you trust and talk it out. Sometimes just saying the words out loud can alleviate some of the weight of the situation. My group has the misfortune of being located ten feet away from a painfully loud department head and we’ve developed a system for dealing with our near-constant irritation. We email among ourselves (referring to him as HWMNBN – He Who Must Not Be Named) and then, usually, we can all move on with our days. So call your mom, email your best friend, text your boyfriend, just say your peace so you don’t snap!
(4) And if you find that your work-related irritation, frustration and stress are more long-standing my suggestion is to find a physical outlet (though obviously if these persist for weeks or months you need to speak to your supervisors). Boxing is a fantastic outlet after a stressful day, each strike seems to pull your anger from your body. Running is another great option because you get to lose yourself in something bigger and just forget your worries, especially if you’re running outside. Keeping your body healthy and strong will go a LONG way in keeping you sane.
And when all else fails, fantasy is an amazing escape!