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Mental Health: Combat On-the-Job Stress & Frustration Flare-Ups

Modern life has people stressed out.

Everything from the rapidly quickening pace of commerce to increased job responsibilities and round-the-clock work schedules, to political division and even social media-induced aggravation is getting people hotter under the collar. That’s not hyperbole. The stats you can check out here make it clear that elevated stress levels are a reality for many.

When chronically shouldering ramped-up stress loads, you’re more apt to boil over when new and unexpected stressors – even relatively minor ones -- are introduced. If you internalize the stress and don’t deal with it well while at work, you can prevent yourself from doing your job well. Even worse, if you blow a gasket on the job, you can create a host of negative repercussions, from diminished performance and reputation damage, to causing co-workers to feel more stress, thus hindering their ability to do their jobs to their best. So, how can you combat stress-fanned flare-ups and keep yourself calm and focused amid the storm? Try some of these strategies.

Give Box Breathing A Go: In an interesting article published by Inc., U.S. Navy Seal Mark Divine, founder of SEALFIT, describes this breathing technique, which can quickly calm you down while also empowering you to stay alert and focused. Here’s how you do it: Void your chest of air, and keep your lungs empty for four long counts. Then, inhale through your nose – again, for four long counts. Next, do another four long counts while holding air in your lungs. Lastly, exhale calmly for four counts through your nose. Repeat the process for at least five minutes, and you’ll reap the rewards of a relaxed, yet acutely focused, mind and disposition, Divine says.

Engage In Guided Meditation: Sometimes, the best approach is to completely pull away from the source of your stress for a few minutes. Do that, and use the time to decompress through a five-minute guided meditation session, performed with the help of a mobile application like Stop, Breathe & Think, advises Pacient, an education and advocacy startup helping people understand and navigate the healthcare system. The app allows you to check in with your emotions, and then recommends short, guided meditation videos to help you manage.

Be Mindful In the Moment: When frustration and anger rear, they can completely overwhelm your thinking. Don’t let them. Instead, take a mental step back and force yourself to be aware of the emotions and physical sensations you’re feeling. Acknowledge that you’re extremely stressed. Then, remind yourself that being angry will only make matters worse. You can even try quickly bringing to mind other stressful incidents that turned out well in the end. Taking such steps gives you space from the immediacy of your emotions, reducing their ability to affect you.

Make Yourself Smile & Laugh: Fake it until it becomes real. That’s to say, smiling and consciously inducing laughter can actually make you start to feel the positive emotions that come with those actions, helping to reduce or even eradicate stress.

Take an Exercise Time Out: Go for a walk. Do some push-ups or sit-ups. Engaging in light exercise for even a few minutes can help expel the excess negative energy.

Play The Five Senses Game: This mental exercise provides a great instant distraction, fully occupying your thoughts and distancing you from the anger-sparking situation. To do it, you count five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.

Personalize Your Own Plan: When in a calm frame of mind, type up a plan for how you will react when stress intensifies. Maybe the plan includes some of the suggestions here. Maybe it features other steps entirely. Regardless, the plan should map out precise steps you’ll take when stress, frustration and even anger grip tight. Keep the plan on your smartphone so that you can reference it at a moment’s notice. Follow the steps each time you feel a flare-up brewing. If need be, modify the plan based on your experience of what works best.

Avoid ‘Armageddon’ Thinking: Fear is at the root of a lot of stress. In a work setting, you might feel intense stress because something you view as essential might not get done – a stress that stems from fear of the repercussion. Recognize, though, that most of the time the doomsday scenarios you project will not come to pass. Even if there is a negative result, it’s probably not the end of the world. By reminding yourself of that fact, you’ll actually stay calmer and be better able to develop a plan for affecting the solution you desire.

Actually, it’s probably not, at least in relation to whatever you’re stressed over.

Write About Your Stress: In the wake of a stressful episode, after the tumult has settled down, take 10 minutes or so to write about the experience. Penning a little narrative about the trying time can actually better prepare you to deal with – and perform well amid -- future stressful situations, especially tasks requiring persistence, according to a recent study.

Lastly, we encourage you to remember the wise words of the great jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin: