Rough Day? Hit Reset.
New findings suggest ways to bounce back.
By Matthew Hutson published January 3, 2017 - last reviewed on February 19, 2019
It's a harsh world. Fortunately, we're equipped with a number of tools to annihilate stress, grow from conflict, and come out of blowups looking good. Here are a few.
Start With a Ritual
You haven't had your coffee yet, but already you're stressing about that upcoming test or meeting. Anxiety can spur preparation, but when it's go time, you need to be relaxed and confident. Try adopting a ritual that you can call on in such circumstances. Alison Wood Brooks and other researchers report in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes that arbitrary rituals—theirs involved crinkling paper or reciting numbers—reduced anxiety, which enhanced performance on math problems and even Karaoke crooning. Whatever your routine, call it a ritual and you're golden.
Reframe a Breakdown
You gave it your best effort, but that meeting or conversation did not go as planned, and you lost it. There was shouting, and maybe even some crying. Elizabeth Baily Wolf and colleagues found that when people blame losing their cool on being "passionate" about what they are doing rather than simply being "emotional," they are seen as more confident and capable.
Was your breakdown spurred by an argument you had with a friend or partner? Hop in a mental time machine and see how the spat looks from the future. Igor Grossmann and colleagues report in Social Psychological and Personality Science that viewing a recent conflict as it would look one year out increased forgiveness and insight, thus strengthening the relationship.
Walk It Off
As a last resort, go for a stroll outside—or just around your office. A paper in the journal Emotion suggests the act of walking, in and of itself, can boost mood, even in dull environs. People who watched a video during one experiment felt better if they did so while using a treadmill rather than sitting or standing. So take a hike.
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