Have you ever had one of those days at work where everything goes wrong, and then your boss says something that sets you off? You know the kind of day I’m talking about. So, you decide to take a little break in the bathroom stall for a good cry. Even though seeing your mascara on toilet paper is somewhat unsettling (are my tears all over my face now too?), it’s also cathartic. But then you have to go back to your desk and face your inbox again, and the tears start flowing once more. Now you’re just crying because you’re already crying!
These tips will help you the next time you’re about to cry at work. Your keyboard (and your laptop in general) will be much better off if it doesn’t get exposed to your tears, and we all know that happy hour after work is the best way to cope with a long day.
1. Breathe, using the 10:10:10 method.
The next time you find yourself in a distressing circumstance, remember to take deep breaths–in for 10 seconds and out for 10 seconds. Repeat this process 10 times. “It’s almost like your body has no choice but to calm down,” says Alexandra Levit when discussing the benefits of deep breathing in calming oneself.
2. Look at (or touch) something blue.
Being near water has a calming effect, according to marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols in his book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being In, Near, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. So if you can’t leave the office to take a dip, simply splash some water on your face or wash your hands. Or Google Image search “Mykonos” for a mental escape.
3. Squeeze your hand.
If you’re feeling stressed, Eastern medicine recommends activating the pressure point between your second and third knuckles to ease tension. Business psychologist Sharon Melnick told Business Insider that this method works by stimulating a nerve that relaxes the area around the heart, quelling any anxious fluttering sensations. We tried it out for ourselves and can confirm that our blood pressure levels did indeed lower afterward.
4. Take it outside.
Sometimes, the bathroom isn’t enough. Take a break and go outside for some fresh air. “Just having that momentary change of perspective can be enough to calm your head,” Levit says. And if you’re still just ruminating, walk a few blocks where you can scream—into your arm even. “Whatever you need to do to calm down emotionally, and return to work in a civil manner,” she adds.”There’s no point in getting back to work until you can be productive.”
5. Make yourself a mantra.
Whenever you’re feeling down at work, remind yourself that this is only a phase and it will eventually pass. Vicki Salemi, career expert and author of Big Career in the Big City suggests thinking to yourself “This too shall pass,” or “If you’re going through hell keep going.” If needed, later on call a friend to vent about your day, or go to yoga class as an extra way to help you move on from the situation.