In Practice

Putting social psychology to work for you

5 Ways to Feel Calmer at Work, Starting Today

Easy ways to feel instant calm.

1. Drop in on yourself. 

You can reduce your sense of feeling flustered by taking one mindful breath at various intervals during the day. All you need to do is pay attention to the sensations of what taking one breath feels like in your body. Feel your body moving as the air moves through it.

Try to link this technique to a behavior you do frequently. For example, do it when you get up to refill your water bottle, or go to the bathroom, or just whenever you get up from your desk for any reason.

Ideally link taking one mindful breath to a behavior you do around once an hour. I like to do it when standing rather than sitting.

2. Do something you've been putting off.

Find a task that has been lingering on your to do list for a week or more, and that will take less than 30 mins. Get it done.

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Bonus version: Look for a task where you'd normally take 60 minutes to do it and ask yourself if you could do a simplified, stripped down version in 30 minutes instead? Give yourself a time limit, blast it out, and break free of the sense of a nagging "to do".

3. Give yourself credit for doing your best.

A lot of problems could be solved if adults gave themselves the same compassion we give kids. For example, we expect kids to try hard but we recognize when they've put in their best effort, regardless of the outcome. Give yourself a compassionate message about a task you're trying your best at.

4. Compliment someone.

We're wired so that feeling connected to others makes us feel naturally calmer. This has evolutionary origins in that having positive connections with our tribe mates was safer than being isolated.

One way to feel calmer is to create a positive micro connection with someone. For example, if I've read a friend/colleague's article here on PT and enjoyed it, I might tweet them and say so.

5. Take something off your mind. 

Trying to remember things you need to do is stressful. If you want to make sure you don't forget to do something, set yourself a calendar reminder rather than keeping it on your mind.

This works especially well for things that have the same recurring dates where you can set yourself a recurring reminder.

 

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Alice Boyes, Ph.D. translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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