Tips to Be Calm and Relaxed at Work
How does one remain calm and relaxed in stressful situations? Tight deadlines. Heavy workload. Demanding manager. And the list of workplace stressors goes on and on.
Workplace stressors are unlikely to disappear, however, one can take steps to remain calm and relaxed. Ready to learn to navigate stress and experience smooth sailing at work? Read on.
Tips to Be Calm and Relaxed at Work
Be Mindful. Focusing on the here and now by being self-aware keeps one calm and relaxed. Recognize physical and emotional signals, such as sweaty palms, knots in stomach, or lack of patience when under pressure. Noticing these triggers will help control emotions and learn how to respond calmly and professionally.
Practicing mindfulness meditation every day will help keep one present and instill inner calmness throughout the workday. Here are a few mindfulness exercises to do at work:
- Take 3 deep breaths to center thoughts in the present and reduce stress. This form of deep breathing exercises helps to change mental and physical focus.
- Be consciously aware of what is going on in immediate surroundings. Is it quiet or noisy? How many co-workers are nearby? Pleasant or unpleasant smells? Experiencing physical signs of stress or calmness?
- Next, focus on the things being experienced in the physical sense. For instance, state “I’m angry as the team is not even considering my idea.” As one labels the emotion they are feeling and why they are feeling this way, their emotions will begin to feel more within their control.
Always Be Kind. Kindness is contagious. Jamil Zaki, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and author of The War For Kindness, found that when one sees other people around them acting in generous, kind, or empathetic ways, they are more inclined to act that way themselves.
Kindness fosters a sense of inclusion. When treating others with respect, one naturally becomes more generous with time, shares information transparently, listens intently valuing others’ viewpoints, mentors others, and embraces diversity. All leading to a calm and relaxed workplace.
Start modifying inconsiderate and unkind behavior. Kindness does wonders for our overall well-being. Smile even if it’s difficult. It’s easy to be kind when smiling. And smiling has an array of psychological benefits and affects everything from health to work productivity. Practice positive self-talk. To learn more enjoy HSI’s course.
Be Engaged. Yikes! The majority of the U.S. workforce, 65%, are not engaged, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report. But the good news is statistics on workplace motivation show that highly engaged employees experience 81% less absenteeism and a 14% increase in productivity.
Observe co-workers who are fully engaged. They are relaxed and calm because they are in their element. They clearly understand the job expectations, their role and have passion and purpose for what they do. They understand the company’s goals and how they are tied to the work they do.
Start being engaged by contributing to discussions and being transparent in communication. Take ownership of projects. Be proud of accomplishments. This includes not only jobs well done but being dependable, flexible, having a good attitude, and the list goes on. Be engaged and start being calm and relaxed.
Be Level-Headed. Disagreements and difficult conversations can cause emotions to rise quickly. Be aware of emotions and respond in a calm and professional manner rather than react emotionally. Focus on the topic at hand. Be deliberately level-headed to best articulate point of view and have an effective and productive conversation.
To be mindful of emotions in stressful situations, redirect emotional thinking and calm the mind. Next time a difficult conversation arises, try the following exercise Harvard Business Review suggests to distance emotions from the discussion.
- Acknowledge and label thoughts and feelings. Be specific. For example, “My co-worker is wrong and I’m feeling angry.”
- Take a break. This allows time to process emotions and provides a much-needed reset from the conversation. It also prevents one from saying something they’ll later regret.
- Visualize. Picture a calm place or a person with a calm demeanor. This helps to redirect thinking and focus in a constructive way.
- Focus on one’s breath. Try counting out one’s breath with different relaxation techniques.
- Repeat a calming, neutral phrase such as, “this will pass” or “it’s a business decision, don’t take it personally.” This helps separate personal feelings from the topic at hand.
Set Goals. One of the most powerful ways to reduce stress is to set goals. Goals bring clarity, drive motivation, and increase success rate. With a daily action plan in place, stress levels will decrease. Having clear goals saves time, which increases productivity and helps to keep one relaxed and calm. Here’s a simple project management plan to follow:
- Prioritize workload to have an organized approach to all projects.
- Break larger projects into smaller parts so it’s less overwhelming to accomplish.
- Make a to-do checklist at the end of each workday on goals to accomplish the next day.
- Plan for the following week at the end of the day on Fridays.
Be sure to focus on priorities and learn to say no. Don’t over commit. And be sure not to lose focus on daily goals because of other work distractions or project setbacks.
“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson, American clinical psychologist, lecturer, educator, and best-selling author
Understand Perspectives. By understanding perspectives, it increases emotional understanding of others. Perspective helps one see the situation from the other’s viewpoint and past experiences. In turn, this allows for a clearer understanding and greater empathy. And reduces bias, judgement, and conflict.
To understand perspectives actively listen. Don’t continually interrupt one another or talk over them, this is stressful within itself. Actively listening calms the conversation and allows one to truly focus. Really listen. Don’t formulate an answer while listening.
Visualize being in someone else’s position. What are their expectations? Do they trust your abilities and deliverables? What can you do to improve your relationship with them? This also helps build and strengthen relationships and eliminates uncomfortable and tense situations.
“By changing the way in which you see the world, you effectively change the world around you.” — Andy Puddicombe, British author, public speaker, and teacher of meditation and mindfulness
Anticipate Needs. By anticipating needs or stressful situations, one can act accordingly, decreasing anxiety levels. Learn what others value and overdeliver on what matters most to them. Is it meeting deadlines? Above-par work? Learning this establishes trust and openness. Thus, a less stressful and, calmer, and more relaxed working environment.
Be Prepared. Being unprepared for a meeting, presentation, or difficult conversation is not only embarrassing but extremely stressful. When fully prepared one is able to approach conversations with consideration and care and express one’s thoughts clearly and articulately. Being prepared takes the worry out of the possibilities of miscommunication and misunderstandings. By showing up prepared for the conversations it not only fosters success but builds the foundation for future conversations. When one is prepared it also allows them to be proactive and have a contingency plan in place if something goes wrong, such as a PowerPoint presentation snag.
One easy way to prepare is to write down bullet points for discussion so nothing is accidentally not discussed. This reduces any pre-meeting anxiety.
Before making an important presentation or having a difficult conversation, it’s a good idea to role play. First, prepare an action plan that includes examples, details, and a list of possible questions and objections. Set the intention to give the decision makers all the intel they need to make an informed decision. Practice the scenario with a co-worker, mentor, or family member. Role playing helps strengthen confidence, calm nerves and distance emotionally. It also helps with thinking clearly, articulating points, and answering questions on the spot. By being visibly well-prepared and confident, the recipients will actively listen and reach a decision.
Compromise. Compromising shows emotional intelligence and strong commitment to both the relationship and a fair outcome. When one compromises it makes for a calm and relaxed work environment. Everyone feels they have a fair playing field.
When compromising, focus on steps that benefit both parties and reach a mutual resolution. Then, bring the conversation to a conclusion that includes a mutual understanding.
"The Law of Win/Win says, ‘Let’s not do it your way or my way; let’s do it the best way.’" — Greg Anderson, wellness author and speaker
Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance. One may feel stressed about their ability to balance time with family and friends while staying dedicated to their organization and career responsibilities. A healthy work-life balance in their daily life is imperative for overall mental health.
Support a healthy work-life balance culture. Take breaks during the workday for mental relaxation. Find a quiet place in the office to just relax. It’s healthy for the mind and increases creativity and innovation. Fit a physical activity, such as walking during lunchtime, into a daily routine as it helps with stress reduction. Listen to favorite tunes with earbuds on while working.
Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, take a yoga class, or try progressive muscle relaxation exercises. Praying also calms and offers hope. This helps overcome stress and provides peace.
Get 8-9 hours of sleep. Take time off work and enjoy a much-needed trip or a staycation. Taking time away from work rejuvenates one’s soul. Enjoy returning to work refreshed, full of energy and more productive.
Training: How HSI Can Help?
Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. industry more than $300 billion in losses due to absenteeism, diminished productivity, and accidents. Robust and ongoing training and development will help reduce turnover, absenteeism, and sick time and in turn increase company profits and promote a healthier and less stressful lifestyle.
HSI has a wealth of training courses to help manage stress:
- Work-Life Balance
- Take a Deep Breath
- How to Collaborate
- Stress Management
- Engagement Matters
- Creating a Work Plan
- Prioritization Techniques
- Effective Time Management
- Saying “Yes, And” Instead of “No”
- This vs. That: Compromise vs. Cave
Many of HSI’s clients open their HSI training library for self-directed learning. Choose off-the-shelf training video courses of interest. Request a free trial of our HSI LMS and have access to HSI’s full Business Skills library to watch any of the courses mentioned and much more.