27th September 2017
Tough times – we all have them! But it is possible to bounce back. Amanda Cullen, author of Loving Your Job, tells us how:
We all have bad days and difficult moments. The truth is, you can’t always prevent negative events. At work or in our personal lives we can find ourselves struggling with events we can’t control – for example, the threat of redundancy, the illness of a loved one, or relationship troubles.
If we can’t control the event, what can we control? The only thing you can control is your reaction. The trick is to separate what happens from how you react to it. How you do this depends on your personality. Here are three options:
THE PHYSICAL OPTION
It’s well known that exercise gets the endorphins pumping and improves our mood.
Jump off the train early and walk briskly to work. Or if it all gets too much during the working day, remember that taking half an hour out is not a luxury. Your increased effectiveness after a break will more than compensate for that 30 minutes of non-work time.
So slip out of the office when the difficult moment hits you, and stride out. If you really can’t leave the building, find a place to hide away and do some stretches, take a few deep breaths, and jump up and down on the spot. Ideally find a meeting room (without glass walls!) but even the toilets will do in an emergency!
THE EMOTIONAL OPTION
The brain is an amazing tool, and we can use neuroscience to consciously change our thoughts and attitude.
Imagine putting the challenging issue in a box and placing it in the middle of the room. Then stand up, take a step back and look at the box from the perspective you currently adopt – anger, frustration, despair, etc. How does it feel? What does it look like, sound like, smell like?
Where does your emotion grab you in your body and how? Do your shoulders ache, or hunch? Does your neck feel stiff? Do your limbs feel heavy, or woolly?
Now take a few steps so you are facing the box from a different part of the room, and imagine yourself seeing the box from a different viewpoint. Pretend you are on the beach, or in a field, or up a mountain. Imagine the sights, the sounds and the smells, really soak up the atmosphere. Then take a look at your issue in the box from here. What’s different?
Think about a hobby you love or used to love. Let’s say you used to enjoy singing in a group or choir. Remember a place where you used to do this and look around it in your mind’s eye – noticing the colours, textures, sounds and smells. When you can picture and feel it really clearly, glance at your box and see what has changed.
Revisit each of the views you have explored, and decide which one feels most positive for you. Spend some time soaking it up, really focusing on how it makes you feel, and what you can see, smell and hear. Using all our senses to anchor positive thoughts helps us to really change how we feel.
From this more positive place, determine what you will do differently about the challenging issue. It may be just a change of attitude that is called for, or you may want to take concrete action.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL OPTION
Whilst you may not be able to deploy this immediately during the working day, just spending time visualizing it can help – and then making a plan to translate the image into reality at a later date.
Identify the environment that lights you up.
Is it the seaside, woodland, open fields, beautiful gardens?
Or do you long for bustling city streets, sparkling steel and glass buildings, miles of shopping opportunities or an abundance of museums and galleries?
Or does your heart sing with theatre, pop concerts, ballet or opera?
Enjoy the thought of your special place and make a plan to be there as soon as you can.
Which of these approaches do you think will help you?