We’ve all had those days when nothing we attempt seems to work out, there are unforeseenchallenges or delays, items we’ve requested don’t arrive on time, a presentation or business meeting doesn’t go as well as expected, etc.
If you feel yourself sliding toward an emotional low, try a few of the following strategies to help get yourself and your work day back on track.
Adjust your attitude.
You hold yourself to a high standard, and it’s natural for you to feel miffed if your performance ever falls short of your own expectations. We all experience disappointments; however, one of the defining qualities of a consummate professional is the ability to regain focus, composure, and a constructive frame of mind after a letdown.
• Put your troubles in context. For some people, it helps to consider how enormous the universe is, and how comparatively minuscule one’s own problems are. You can apply a similar tactic to time: will the circumstances you’re experiencing right now matter in five, 10, or 15 years? Will they significantly affect your career, or your legacy?
• Monitor your thoughts, and avoid the tendency to globalize, catastrophize, or succumb to unrealistically negative self-assessments. For example, instead of a phrase like “I’m such an idiot,” a more realistic appraisal would be: “I made an error on this occasion, but I’m actually quite intelligent and good at what I do; if I weren’t, the many successes I’ve enjoyed thus far wouldn’t have been possible.” By the way, if you’re going to criticize your own failings, why not take into account your many successes and redeeming qualities too?
• Stay in the here and now. The most important task in the world right now is the one that’s right in front of you. Past events are beyond your control.
• Take a moment to think. Sometimes just by asking yourself the question “What can I do to turn this situation around?”, you’ll come up with one or more ideas that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred to you. This offers you an opportunity to regain a measure of mental control, instead of feeling like a hapless passenger on a bus that’s headed for a ditch. You may also experience a placebo of sorts: if you genuinely believe a particular change in thinking or behaviour will help you, then there’s a good chance it will.
Activate your body.
An elevated degree of stress can disrupt basic functions of your body, including your heart rate, digestion, muscle tension, blood flow, and respiration. A focus on breathing (which is relatively easy to consciously control) can help you release some of the pent-up anxiety or frustration you may feel. Start with about five deep, measured breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth.
A bit of light exercise, like a walk around the block or up a few flights of stairs, can help restore circulation to your brain and extremities, and release tension and stress.
You can also try striking a power pose, by standing tall with your feet at shoulder-width, placing your hands on your hips, and imagining that you are a superhero. Hold this position for around two minutes. Sure, it sounds a little silly, but you may be pleasantly surprised by the renewed feeling of strength and potency this brings you.
Practice gratitude daily.
Take some time to think about all the people who have made a positive contribution to your life. Express your gratitude openly to those around you whom you care about and respect.
Not only will the regular practice of gratitude help you to restore a positive frame of mind and recover from setbacks more quickly; your friends, companions, and colleagues may also be more favourably disposed to lending you a hand in times of need if they believe you genuinely appreciate their assistance. Gratitude is a positive feedback loop!