Find yourself getting anxious or angry on the job? Properly managing your emotions can be critical to professional success, since they can either propel your career or hold you back. Whether you’re facing frustration over a problematic team dynamic or a stalled project, or are struggling to focus because of personal issues (a breakup, an illness, whatever) the trouble starts when you aren’t sure how to productively channel the negative ones and allow them to get the best of you.
Here are a few tips for keeping your cool while you’re on the clock.
If you’re with coworkers and starting to feel frustrated or overwhelmed, try to monitor your breathing and compartmentalize emotions so you don’t erupt. Sometimes you get news that makes you emotional in front of coworkers, and you don’t want them to see your reaction even if they may totally understand it. It’s better not to be the person who blows up because those colleagues can impact your career long after you’re gone from the company. Even if they like you (and can relate), people talk, and no one wants to be known as the person who freaks out when things get intense. “Emotions come and go; resumes and networks take a long time to build,” says Alexander S. Lowry, a professor at Gordon College.
Take a Time Out
Who hasn’t faked a severe need to pee, only to sit in the restroom stall and practice some deep breathing? There’s nothing wrong with releasing your emotions—or giving yourself a moment to process them—in private at work. If you’re really upset, though, don’t let a few tears turn into a full-on meltdown. That could cause even more issues. But by all means, take a walk or an early lunch break if you need to deal with some sudden emotions. It’s way better to have your boss wonder where you are (and explain later) than say or do something you wish you could take back.
Seek Refuge Outside of Work
Most of us have a buddy or two on the job (oh hey, work wife!) that can help talk through our rage when we’re passed up for a promotion or unfairly axed from a project, but the safer bet is to hold back and wait to talk to a friend after hours. Even if you choose to vent to a coworker, doing so during work could make a bad situation worse.
Above all else, go easy on yourself—sometimes it’s tough to manage emotions, even if they’re good ones. “Strive to be a good, compassionate, and professional person at all times, “says Alexandra Franzen, author of You’re Going to Survive. “And remember that nobody—even your seemingly impeccable boss—is perfect.”