There’s a lot in life that will rub you the wrong way.
When your housemate’s hoovering and they insist on repeatedly bashing the nozzle into the skirting boards.
The fact I have to dodge GoT spoilers all day on Mondays. Making social media, and the internet in general, a particularly tedious minefield.
This weird tendency pedestrians have to just… drift into your path – or spontaneously stop – clutching their phone like a winning lottery ticket. Which it would be if the prize was a fractionally less feckless existence.
The contractor you risked losing a client for to get them a better day rate?
They’ve not turned up for work this morning, blocked your number and have written a glowing testimonial on your smuggest competitor’s LinkedIn.
The deal you were counting on? The big one? With a capital C in the job title?
Jokes on you, imbecile. It’s not happening. The owner’s hired their nephew. He’s nine and will undoubtedly cost the company millions.
Irksome. And to top it all off, your manager’s a git. And they’re being especially gittish today. Gitting around the office like they’ve git themselves.
What I’d normally recommend is stewing, festering, and actively remaining as far from gruntled as is humanly possible. Because as we all know, this is a winning combination.
But if you feel like breaking the mould instead of your desk, try these things I discovered yesterday when I was in an extremely bad mood. They actually work!
This is a technique the Navy SEALS use to chill out. It’s a brilliant way to centre yourself when you’re having a mare at work.
It’s good for when you’re stressed, crimson with fury, or having a full blown panic attack.
It’s also really easy to do:
1. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
2. Hold for 4 seconds.
3. Then breathe out (slowly) for 4 seconds.
4. Hold again – you guessed it – for 4 seconds.
It’s called box breathing because the above four steps are easily illustrated in a square.
Controlling our breathing’s a great grounding experience. It also resets moods, so you’re less likely to snap at a client for no good reason.
Or at least smile.
Charlie Darwin wrote in 1872 that “free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it”. Since then, there’s been plenty of study to back up the idea that there’s some truth to faking it until you make it.
Darwin and William James, arguably the father of American psychology, hypothesised that facial gestures influence your emotions. So smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, can be a mood booster.
Laughing releases endorphins the same way exercise does, reducing pain, lowering adrenaline, and boosting your immune system.
These are great physiological effects, sure. But they also contribute to an overall better mood too.
Psychologists at Harvard found that wandering minds make people unhappy. And this is something we’re prone to almost 47% of the time, apparently.
The same study revealed people are happiest when they’re focused on something. So filling your time with a task you’re devoting your full attention to’s a quick way to distract from a bad mood.
I hate to say it, but your TL telling you to “get back on the phone” might be the best advice in this instance.
Although it has to be the happy stuff. Nothing angry or morose. And if you aren’t convinced that works, have some science:
“Compared to those who prefer listening to sad music when in a bad mood, listeners to happy music reported a stronger tendency to repair mood and a stronger belief in their ability to influence their mood through music”
Music can inspire, compliment and even change moods. So choose yours wisely.
*reluctantly swaps Metallica for Pharrell*
Recruitment’s a rather sedentary career. You plug yourself into an office chair pre-9am, batter through until lunch, eat at your desk, and stay seated until 6. Save for the occasional wee or trip to the Nespresso machine.
Physical activity releases endorphins. And reduces the activity of hormones like cortisol or adrenalin. Which can contribute to feeling tense, stressed and anxious.
Sitting down won’t necessarily put or keep you in a bad mood. But it doesn’t exactly lift you out of a slump either.
You might hit the gym first thing. Or run home from work. Or just go for a wander on your break. As long as you’re moving, increasing your heart rate, breathing a bit faster and working up a bit of warmth you’re doing a good thing for both your body and your mood.
Getting to the gym’s great. Because you’re outside briefly and, if work’s what’s stressing you out, away from the office for a bit.
You don’t need to go on an excursion if you don’t want to. Switching seats, or even moving around or tidying your desk will do.
Erika Oliver, author of ‘Three Good Things: Happiness Every Day’, suggests sitting on the floor: “when we change our physical position, we can snap our mental position to a new location.”
Or if you want to take that to its logical conclusion and exchange companies, this link opens in another tab.
You can search companies based on combinations of badges – perks you want that employers have – to craft the perfect next environment in your job search.
…and send it to yourself. AND ONLY TO YOURSELF.
You’ll quickly realise how much of a doofus you look when you’re wound up. But this will also serve as a cringey reminder to never email while angry.
It also saves you venting to another person, which isn’t always healthy. Unless you’ve got a mate who’s just as up for ranting as you are.
Which is why I normally ring Ed Hunter any time I’m even slightly inconvenienced.
Robert Chen’s an executive coach who wrote a piece on what to do when venting doesn’t work. He suggests when you’re narked about something, it’s because your values are being violated.
So take a moment to understand what values are under threat. If your contractor’s dropped, are you angry because they’ve violated your trust, or your principles of transparency? Or is it just the money?
If your client makes an appalling hire, are you mad you missed out on a fee? Or do you genuinely believe you had the best candidate?
Mull it over for a bit. Then change your mindset.
“Your beliefs are yours only. Not anyone else’s”
Key to changing your mindset is accepting the actions of others are driven by their values, and not a desire to infringe yours. It’s a mental exercise in not taking things personally. Because if your values aren’t being violated, you lose a lot of reason to be miffed.
Do less of what puts you – or keeps you – in a bad mood. And more of what keeps you in a good one.
To find out how to do that, in a way that’s not only beneficial to your mood but also your position on the revenue board, click here.
Conultant (Principal/Snr) - Risk & Compliance at River Partnership
Recruitment Consultant at Just IT Recruitment (JITR)
Principal Consultant/Team Leader- Technology Perm at Salt
Vice President - New York at Skills Alliance
Senior or Principal Consultant- Legal at Charterhouse Hong Kong
Head of Contract & Interim - Home Based at DNA Recruit