We’ve all experienced those pleasant interactions that make our workday — and those sour ones that threaten to spoil it. A snide remark or tense exchange with a customer or client can send us into a stress spiral that worsens our mood and changes our outlook on the entire day. Such encounters, and their negative effects, are unfortunately more common than you’d think: Research shows that mental health is a growing concern among customer-facing employees, and the emotional labor their jobs require is increasingly associated with anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.
Being a “people person,” especially in a professional capacity, is no easy job. That’s why having on-the-ground strategies to help you recharge and recover in the moment are more important than ever. If you have trouble bouncing back after a stressful, uncomfortable, or challenging interaction, here are a few strategies that will help you cool down and carry on the rest of the day.
Bring your attention to your breath
Your breath is a powerful tool in just about every situation you can think of: moments of overwhelm, anxiety, frustration, or even times of excitement when your heart is fluttering in your chest. Research shows that taking as few as 10 seconds to focus on the rising and falling of your breath can help you feel less tense and more present.
After a particularly stressful interaction, feel your feet on the floor, close your eyes, and simply tune into your inhales and exhales. If you have more than 10 seconds, great! Fill your lungs and belly with air, and push it out with an audible sigh. You’ll be feeling more relaxed in no time. And the best part: Conscious breathwork can help you ease stress in the moment and, when done consistently, can help you build resilience over time.
Walk it out
Getting your steps in each day isn’t just good for your physical health, it can also help regulate your mood when tempers are running high. If possible, push yourself to go for a five-minute walk, whether it’s in or around your workplace or through your neighborhood, after a stressful encounter. Briefly removing yourself from the situation that caused you to stress is a great way to recharge and regain your cool. Plus, our brains release neurotransmitters while we walk that help reduce anger and frustration.
Lean on positive affirmations
If you find yourself feeling upset after a negative interaction, you know just how much weight words can carry. That’s why it’s so important to speak kindly to and about ourselves — and lean on positive affirmations when an interaction doesn’t go as planned. Choose a mantra or phrase that helps you feel grounded and at peace. It can be anything from “I am doing my best, and my best is more than enough,” or “this moment does not define me.” No matter which affirmation you choose, make sure it’s something that makes you feel good and reminds you that this moment will pass.
Reflect on how you best recharge
Having a personal toolkit of recharge strategies is one of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety and proactively look after our well-being. Research has confirmed that employees who practice personal interventions to manage stress outside the workplace — everything from exercising and meditating to leaning on a friend or family member for support — are better equipped to handle stressful situations while on the job.
With that, take some time to think through activities and coping mechanisms that make you feel good — things that can be done on-the-go and that can be practiced when you have more time on your hands. Keep these strategies in your back pocket and they’ll be there to guide you through even your most challenging encounter.