We’ve all had “those days” at work … You spill coffee on your shirt, your co-worker misses a deadline on a project, and you botch an important presentation to a key client. Even one day like this can leave you stressed, frustrated and irritable. Over time, they could even cause you to question your confidence and/or the future of your job.
Fortunately, workplace stress doesn’t need to follow you home.
Consider these four strategies that we recommend to our career coaching clients for keeping a bad day at work in perspective:
Stop Confusing Success with Happiness
Sometimes bad days at work come in clusters, posing a risk to your overall outlook and self-confidence. You wonder if happiness just isn’t in the cards for you if you continue to have one bad work day after another …
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, explains that while we often assume that success leads to happiness, this formula is a recipe for both failure and misery.
Research in the fields of neuroscience and positive psychology suggests that it is optimism and happiness that feed performance and achievement. Rather than waiting for happiness and success to find you, we encourage our career coaching clients to cultivate a positive mindset that will drive your creativity, productivity, resilience and performance.
Keep a Journal
Achor also suggests keeping a daily journal in which you write down at least three new things that you are grateful for each day. Studies have shown that this kind of activity can significantly improve your optimism levels in both the short and long term. The things you are grateful for can range from important to trivial, but focusing on the things that make you happy can help you ditch the workplace negativity.
Mindfulness meditation, focusing on the present moment as a way to quiet the mind, has gained a lot of traction in recent years as an effective method for reducing stress, controlling emotions and even improving sleep patterns.
Recent studies have proven that meditation can even increase the amount of gray matter in your brain, which has been linked to better emotional stability and decreased age-related cognitive decline. Researchers have found that regular practice can lead to changes in the brain in as little as eight weeks.
After a bad day at the office, try this:
1. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down and get comfortable.
2. Focus on your breathing. Notice the quality of your breath — without judgment. Is it cold, warm, fast, slow? If your mind wanders, gradually redirect your focus to a specific focal point, like the tip of your nose. Go back to observing your breath.
3. Continue for 5-10 minutes, slowly resuming your normal routine.
Make the Most of Your Transition Routine
Thanks to technology, the line between work and home is more blurred than ever. Let’s face it — we have access to the office via email, voicemail and cloud-based documents almost anytime we want it. That’s not always a good thing, particularly after a bad day at work.
Whether your commute is 5 minutes or an hour, how you use your time between work and home can help clear your mind, particularly after a nerve-racking day at the office. For our career coaching clients who drive to work, we often recommend using their commute times to listen to music or audiobooks. If you enjoy classical music, it can actually have a calming effect, according to Dr. Kevin Labar of Duke University.
What strategies have you found helpful to get over a bad day at work?