It’s a spider. How do you get it off of you?
Do you frantically run around screaming, causing stress to your mind and body as the oblivious creature makes its way down your spine?
Do you remain motionless, acknowledge the issue, and craft a plan to remove the arachnid?
Responding to a scary situation with a clear head is not easy.
Swift action takes practice.
Let’s put aside an occurrence that could potentially turn you into Spider-Man or Spider-Woman and consider frustration with your business. Disappointing sales, overwhelming deadlines, or co-worker disagreements can all lead to career anxiety.
When you’re upset, you operate in take-for-granted mode. Do you notice your breathing? The fresh air? The beautiful sunset? Of course not. You’re consumed with your frustration and you take moments for granted that you won’t get back.
Instead of letting the frustrating aspects of your business break you down, you can appreciate everything that life throws at you, even the irritating aspects.
Here’s a five-minute exercise that calms you down and helps cultivate a wise mindset.
1 Minute: End & Relocate
Shut down your involvement with your source of frustration. At some point, there is nothing left to do or say, but we often press the issue, erroneously hoping that something will change. You will save yourself time and return to your normal state faster if you learn when to walk away, symbolically and literally.
Physically change your space, and spend one minute away from what you just encountered. Walk outside if you were inside, stand if you were sitting, sit down if you were walking, etc.
Your mind needs a change of scenery to reset your emotions. You may feel trapped in a world where your problem is the only thing that exists. This is not true. If I get annoyed indoors, I love walking outside and looking at the sky, trees, and flowers. There’s a lot going on besides me.
2 Minutes: Instant Gratification
After you’ve surrendered, treat yourself to something that makes you happy. It doesn’t matter what it is, but spend this time doing something enjoyable. For two minutes, you need to remind yourself why you like being alive.
It’s easy to prepare for this step ahead of time. As a writer, I always keep potential story ideas in notebooks and Microsoft Word documents. If I’m having trouble writing, I can quickly take a look at these sources of inspiration to spark my creativity.
Keep a list of activities or items to read that make you instantly proactive, and use it in the same way as a story-idea notebook. Feeling better doesn’t seem as daunting when you have a sure-fire treatment waiting for you.
One instant pick-me-up is listening to a special song. It doesn’t have to be your favorite song—that could be emotionally charged in a non-conducive way and too complicated for the purpose of this career anxiety exercise. Choose a song for this occasion that allows you to put on your headphones, press play, and transport yourself to an upbeat universe.
1 Minute: This Is Your Story
You are in control. You know that you are upset, but you decide how you want to feel next. When the frustrating incident is over, the duration of its aftermath is up to you. Do you want to move on within a reasonable period or stay hung up on the issue?
In order to move on to a better part of your day, choose compassion for another person’s point of view. Needless suffering comes from a self-centered focus on what someone else “did to you” or how someone’s behavior irritated you. Playing the victim is a short-sided reaction that keeps you stuck and helpless—when you’re not.
Your actions are just as capable as upsetting someone else, often when you have no intention of doing so. Monitor what you can control, and make sure that you behave as the person who you want to be. If you aren’t operating as the best version of yourself, what can you change?
1 Minute: Choose Health
Emotional turmoil could take a physical toll on you. The brain can’t distinguish from real and imagined circumstances, so if you excessively concentrate on being hurt after the fact, your brain will start to believe that you are actually hurt—even if your frustrating event is long over.
Is this particular frustration worth the risk of damaging your health? Broaden your perspective to gain a sense of appreciation for your ability to be angry about something.
That’s right. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re healthy enough to be irritated, you’re one of the lucky ones. Think about the many people who would happily take on your career dilemma if they could get rid of their debilitating illness in return.
Other people’s problems certainly don’t diminish your feelings. Your emotions are valid and play an important role in how you process the world, but you can either let them exist within you for a temporary period or let them consume you.
When you let your emotions consume you, the frustrations become your world and influence your decisions in a negative way. Instead, evaluate your emotional responses with a forward-thinking attitude. If you don’t like the way that you feel, how can you prepare yourself to not feel that way again in the future?
Once your five-minute practice is done, revisit your problem with your new outlook. The situation is manageable, and you can find a peaceful resolution to your career anxiety because you’ve set your priorities.
Learning how to handle minor incidents trains you to tackle bigger obstacles with ease and confidence.
How do you manage and reduce everyday stress? Share in the comments below.
Stefanie Flaxman is a freelance copy editor and author of a new book about heartbreak.