Emotions are a huge component of our lives. We experience emotions everyday. Joy over a birthday or a promotion. And satisfaction over finishing a project. Or sadness over recent events.
Managing emotions in the workplace can be challenging. Because we don’t have the space and liberties we enjoy in our private lives.
The brain-body connection is what makes emotions so relevant to our well-being. After all, they are blind hints at how well we’re doing. And they significantly affect our health.
Feeling stressed or worn out can increase our blood pressure. Developing anxiety over various tasks or interactions can give us an ulcer. Our emotional health affects our physical health in many ways. From our immune system to our ability to focus. It’s all in a loop.
Our emotions affect our health and productivity. Yet, our emotions also reflect our health and achievements. It’s a downward spiral, each loop closer to crashing.
How to escape this seemingly never-ending loop? We can’t. And we shouldn’t. Our emotions are there for a good reason. And living without emotion is not being alive. What we can do, however, is work with our brain to manage our emotions and guide how we feel towards a positive spiral. Here are a few simple methods on how to do it.
#1 Process your emotions by “writing them down”
As with any other issue, the first step in finding a solution is investigation. We need to see what the problems may be. How we really feel and when. What exactly drives us to feel a certain way.
It may well be something we can control. Or perhaps it is something we cannot control. Yet, we surrender ourselves to it willingly.
The first step in figuring out how we feel is keeping track of our emotional reactions. We’ve already discussed the issue of labeling emotions. That’s an exceptionally healthy practice. Calling our emotions names can help us work them through. However beneficial, oftentimes that’s not enough.
So let’s go ahead and use a diary. Let’s write down how we feel and when and why. Over several weeks, we can easily develop a decent emotional data set. Yes, it sounds strange.
But there are 3 major benefits to doing so:
- We get a very good overview of how we feel and when and why. Of what our reactions are, of how we could improve on that. Hence, we get knowledge about the issues. And we can use that knowledge to find remedies.
- Writing down how we feel is catharsis. We better manage and control our feelings by writing them down. It’s a way to process how we feel.
- It becomes part of our great journey. How amazing it would be to find this diary ten years from now? In many ways, similar to finding those first-grade drawings.
Most of all, writing things down helps us notice patterns. And analyzing patterns is how we can implement positive change.
#2 Make the emotion-triggering context work for you
By now, we know when and where we feel certain ways. In a sense, we have a rough estimate of what triggers our emotions. And knowing our triggers means we can control them.
Disassemble triggers of bad emotions
We already have a list of triggers. And we know what emotions they prompt. We need a judgement call on what emotions we want to avoid. Now, all we need to do is put them into strategy.
Suppose, for example, that deadlines make you stressed. That you typically feel very anxious the day before the deadline. Preemptively doing the work a week before the deadline can take the edge off. And you can do this on a regular basis.
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Now, instead of feeling anxiety, you feel excited. Add to this the satisfaction of having delivered on time. It’s perfect.
Reconfigure triggers of unwanted emotions
Sometimes the trigger is a person. And that person makes you uncomfortable. This can happen for a variety of reasons. It could be bad humor. Or it could be a personal space conflict.
So go ahead and have a conversation. Clarify what the issue is in a friendly manner. Unless this is the issue. Some of us do well with conflicts. Or adversarial talks of any kind. Some of us simply don’t. It might be tough to confront the source of your issue.
In any case, realize that any issue you might have with someone starts with yourself. Even when it’s clear that some people can misbehave. The reason why you feel bothered has as much to do with you as it does with others.
Trust your team with emotion management
Teams should care about how team members feel. After all, how you feel affects your productivity. Morale is a key aspect of teamwork.
By making your team work to manage emotions, you create two sets of bilateral responsibilities:
- Your team focuses on how you feel.
- You focus on how the team feels.
- You focus on how you feel.
- Your team focuses on how it feels.
The first three sound simple. Teams can easily check how team members feel. You can sort of tell how your team feels. Nobody is as good at knowing how you feel as you are.
But what about the last point? And why does it matter? Because it’s a key element of leadership, as well as team self-management, to estimate morale. Fortunately, an instant communication solution like Hubgets uses its Artificial Intelligence layer to compute a real-time happiness index for teams, thus helping leaders develop the right strategy for a morale boost and engagement increase.
Self-awareness of any group makes the difference between success and failure. Teams should wonder whether everything is OK, or whether they’re overwhelemed. And teams can use this information to benchmark individual issues.
#3 Adjust your emotions to context
To the many ways in which office life can affect your emotions, here is a third solution: alter your response. If your current reaction does little to change things for you, simply change your reaction.
Shift your focus
Firstly, do a focus check and see where your attention lies. Is it pointing inwards? It should. After all, you are trying to regulate emotions. And now gently move your focus from the cause of your torment, onto something neutral. Such as a warm and nice yellow cup. Or even a pale blue folder. Or anything similar. Now change your focus again. Explore the issue/the feeling that you have.
Focus is a fiddle thing to control. However controlling it is possible and can be rewarding.
Go back to the object of your emotional distraction. In a sense, it is a bit like surveying. In another sense, it is a lot like fishing. Either way, you keep your emotions from outpouring. You don’t ignore how you feel. Instead, you study and delay how you feel.
Ensure you are entitled to how you feel
Secondly, make a mental note to check why you feel the way you do. And perhaps write it down in your emotional log. Sometimes, the reason why we feel a certain way is purely a construct. Our instincts and imagination work together to alter our behavior. They don’t know better, but we do.
And that’s precisely it. We might feel anxious before a presentation, because we believe others will think less of us. For some, the opposite holds true. And presentations are a rush and a high. In both cases, how we feel has to do with what we believe. And we can change what we believe.
Use the most basic meditation exercise
Thirdly, consider the most common meditation exercise. Focusing on your deep and slow breath can clear your head. And it can also regulate emotions. By focusing on our breath, we gain clarity. And we feel more centered. It’s as easy as practicing placing your focus on how you breath. So try it everyday for 10-15 minutes. Soon, you’ll be able to use it as a skill. And instead of feeling overrun with emotions, you can use this skill to keep charge.
Oftentimes, emotions are mixed. It’s almost as if we’re a large pot in which all sorts of fluids can be poured. Some, boiling hot. Others, crispy cold. And our ability to manage our emotions affects our lives. Dealing with emotions is similar to dealing with procrastination. We need to practice control and vigilance. And we need to do so in a nurturing, positive way.
Overall, dealing with emotions needs to be an ongoing practice. In fact, consider it a potential hobby. There are good reasons to explore emotions and how to deal with them. Understanding them better will change things for you. So would you like to understand your emotions better? Find out more How to Deal with Emotions in the Workplace (Part 1).