Woman at a stressful meeting uses mindful breathing and meditation to avoid getting angry at work
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Your coworker messed up, and you get blamed. Your boss made an insensitive comment. You’re unprepared for a meeting because your computer is broken and IT can’t come look at it until this afternoon.

Whatever the reason, you’re having a bad day. And however well you know being angry at work doesn’t pay off, you can feel yourself about to snap. So you do the only thing you can do: You close your eyes and take a deep breath.

A simple inhale and exhale is effective for tempering stress—it’s simple science. If you’re struggling with controlling your temper at work, hacking into that science with mindful breathing can help.

Conflict Management

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. But they can lead to positive outcomes if they’re managed well. Check out this online course for a two-step process that can help you manage conflict successfully.

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What Causes Stress Beneath the Surface

Your body’s autonomic nervous system controls involuntary bodily functions like heart rate and digestion. It’s comprised of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

The Sympathetic Nervous System

When the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, you get excited. This is the side of your nervous system that increases your heart rate and sends blood flow to your muscles.

Engaging the sympathetic nervous system puts you in fight-or-flight mode.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System

When the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, you relax. Your heart rate slows, digestion engages, etc.

While the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for fight-or-flight, the parasympathetic sees to what some call “rest and digest.”

As you’ve probably guessed, gentle breathing is one way to switch on on the parasympathetic nervous system and calm down. Unfortunately, the busier you get, the more stressed you feel, and the harder it is to breathe calmly. Next thing you know, you’re angry at work and can barely think straight.

That’s why it’s helpful to mix in a little mindfulness when you need to control your temper at work.

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Mindful Breathing for Business

Making mental health a priority with the regular practice of breathing exercises can help you get more in touch with your parasympathetic side. According to Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, you are doing the following when you are breathing gently:

  • focusing on the present moment
  • not making any judgments

In other words, you’re taking yourself out of the world for a moment. Even if you notice a negative emotion, you can say to yourself, “Wow, I’m quite angry right now,” without passing any judgment. Breathing helps you relax, but this mindfulness is what helps you stay relaxed.

In business, we often focus on the past and the future, but rarely the present moment. You may analyze the past while planning for the future, but not the “now.”

On the other hand, meditation practices like mindful breathing are all about the now. You put yourself in a comfortable position. You think about the rise and fall of your chest. You realign your body and mind.

This also helps you lose the constant pressure to make judgments. Judgements, too, plague us at the office. Is it a good or bad idea? Are we going with option A or B? What does the data say? What’s your opinion?

Like anything else in life, balance at work is essential. Past, present, and future are equally important.

Career Anchors

What drives you to be good at your job?

Career anchors are based on your values, desires, motivations, and abilities. They are the immovable parts of your professional self-image that guide you throughout your career journey.

Try this short GLOBIS Unlimited course to identify which of the eight career anchors is yours!

Mindful Breathing as a Superpower against Anger at Work

Mindful breathing does not just calm your mind. The Yoga Sutras (written several thousand years ago) describe several positive effects of mindfulness meditation: incredible strength, the wisdom of a wise man, and even mindreading.

“Impossible!” you say. But it’s not just ancient texts that make this claim. Athletes who practice meditation are increasingly aware of the physical advantage, as well as the mental edge, it brings.

Various modern research agrees that there are science-based benefits of meditation:

  • Stronger immunity and faster recovery from stress (we’d certainly call that incredible strength!)
  • Heightened intelligence, memory, creativity, and concentration (what one might call wisdom)
  • Increased sympathy and empathy (modern mindreading, perhaps?)

Mindful breathing works like a wonder drug, not only releasing anger and stress, but bringing new benefits in their place. Best of all, it’s totally free.

The best way to put mindful breathing to work is to make it a regular practice. Don’t wait until you feel angry at work. Take a few minutes on the train or during your lunch break to reduce anxiety before it starts. Make it a part of your daily routine.

Namaste.

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