We all boil at different points and some of that steam heats up the workplace. Imagine someone who arrives to work irritable about family problems. This co-worker rolls his eyes when you enthusiastically share your project idea or taps his foot impatiently while you speak. Another co-worker walks past you without a greeting or doesn’t listen to you because she is thinking about what’s next on her long list. Consequently, you get into a bad mood.
Bad moods are contagious at the workplace according to research conducted by Dr. Sigal Barsade from the University of Pennsylvania. This is why it is important to not only go green with your physical environment at work, but to green in your work relationships.
Aim for ordinary
The problem is that most of us alternate between two states of mind: feeling like an unimportant person and an ordinary person. An ordinary person knows his identity, separating who he is from what he does - content with simplicity and organizing his day to maximize the positive. In contrast an unimportant person is desperately trying to create a name for himself because he feels that he is not good enough – and of course, this type of person will never feel accomplished and satisfied at work, even when he accomplishes. It helps to remind yourself that you are part of a great team – sometimes it is your turn to shine, other times it is someone else’s.
Try these mood-boosting strategies to lower workplace stress. When you are happy, you pay it forward.
- Don’t begin the work day with a jolt. Give yourself an extra 5 minutes when the alarm clock goes off to relax in bed. You will feel in control.
- Change your routine way of thinking. What new things do you want to learn today instead of playing the part of the expert? How exciting – anything can happen!
- Adhere to your minimal daily requirements for balance: sufficient sleep, healthy eating, exercise and quiet-time. You can change a bad mood with food, music, a walk or a good laugh.
- Delete stressful work files from your brain to take a necessary break. Focus on something new at work – what task would you rather think about? Or take a walk outside, doodle at your desk because there is great productivity in rest.
- At your desk take 3-5 minutes and use the persuasive power of auto-hypnosis to rewire your brain. Sit comfortably with both feet on the ground, close your eyes and breathe naturally. Imaginatively visit your happiest place on earth and use your 5 senses to fully experience it. Give yourself a personal message that you need to hear. Inhale, exhale and open your eyes.
- Be respectful to all your co-workers, even the negative ones. Be a good listener. Some people just need to announce their reality and absorb a little compassion. Then move on to positive common ground or excuse yourself to go do your work.
- Don’t look to win or lose an argument – seek an equitable compromise. Everyone self-justifies, including you.
- Raise the esteem of those around you. Give full credit to others.
Don’t wait for external circumstances to create peace for you because serenity is inside out.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com