Funny, hearing the command “Just relax!” doesn’t do anything to settle your nerves if they’ve been rattled. We can be unnerved by all kinds of factors while on the job, from sleep deprivation to mood fluctuations to high-stress situations. If you ever feel like you’re going to lose it, try one (or all) of the five tips below to keep your cool – and your career – intact.
Chew gum for 10 minutes
A study in the Journal of Prosthodontic Research said that chewing gum for 10 minutes reduces cortisol, a hormone related to stress. In another study, chewing gum was also reported to increase alertness, though chewing for at least 10 minutes is key.
Call someone and vent
This is not the time to call your most dramatic friend. Find a quiet spot, call someone you trust – your best friend, spouse or a parent – and ask them to listen to your stressful situation. Or, if you have a trusted work friend, invite him or her for a quick cup of coffee offsite and vent. Sometimes, hearing it out loud can help you realize what to do about the situation. Just be sure to return the favor when your friend has a bad day.
Take deep breaths
Don’t underestimate the power of the deep breath. According to Harvard Health Publications, deep breathing “encourages full oxygen exchange […], the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide,” which slows your heart rate and stabilizes blood pressure. To do this on your own, exhale completely, and inhale through your nose until your abdomen inflates, and repeat as many times as necessary until your heart rate calms down.
Walk away – and into a pet store
Of course, if you’re at work, you can’t walk away immediately and visit a pet store when a stressful situation arises. But if you’re anxious and upset hours after a chaotic moment, make a beeline for the nearest pet store. Just spending a few minutes with a dog or cat or even looking at birds interact in a pet store lowers cortisol and increases serotonin, a chemical associated with well-being, according to WebMD.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation
Anyone who’s ever taken a yoga class is familiar with progressive muscle relaxation as a way to keep calm: It’s the practice of tensing up one muscle at a time, starting at your feet and working your way up, relaxing that muscle, then moving on to the next muscle up, until you’ve worked through all the muscle groups – or enough to calm down. This practice is often how yoga classes end. Namaste.
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