Weathering Emotional Highs and Lows in the Office

Because we are human beings, not robots, each of us carries a whole world of hopes, dreams, disappointments and frustrations with us to the office. We have to learn to stay on level ground even when we may feel like we're on an emotional roller coaster. On top of all that, we have to cope with the moods of those around us.

Becoming Aware of Your Moods

In order to avoid being a helpless victim of moods, it's necessary to know what's happening inside. What is your mood right now? Do you know why you feel the way you do? Always assess your mood before acting or speaking, especially when you're angry.

Coping with Moods

When you're in a bad mood, it helps to admit it to yourself. Then you can decide what to do about it. Sometimes you can just "lay low" and weather it out. But suppose you have to go to an important meeting?

One way to get out of a bad mood is to make a conscious effort to look on the bright side. Think of good things about the situation or person who seems to be causing your mood. A sense of humor helps here. In fact, humor is a wonderful tool for getting your perspective back.

If you're reaching the boiling point, you may need a break to calm down and assess the situation. It's better to take a short break than let a bad mood ruin your work.

Bad Mood Prevention

You can help prevent bad moods by taking good care of yourself. This means getting adequate food, sleep and exercise. Honor your limits—it's hard to feel good when you're pushing yourself to do more than you can do. If stress is causing you to be testy, take a good look at what stress factors you can eliminate from your life. And learn techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, to deal with the stress you can't avoid.

Coping with Other People's Moods

Not surprisingly, the more you know about your own moods, the more aware and tolerant you become of the moods of others. When someone behaves unfairly to you, stop and think: Is this person being driven by a mood? Offer a way out, such as "You don't usually snap at me like that. Is everything okay?"

Depression - Not Just a Mood

If you or someone you work with is always moody, sad or withdrawn, the problem may be more than just a mood. Depression can be a serious illness, requiring intervention and treat-ment. Some signs of depression include feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness; a loss of interest in everyday activities; eating and sleeping disturbances; difficulty concentrating; irritability; fatigue; and even thoughts of death or suicide.

If you are suffering from depression at work, talk to your supervisor. Many companies can refer employees to an employee assistance counselor. Or ask your doctor for a referral. Most cases of depression respond to treatment.

Taking Charge

We wouldn't be human if we didn't have moods. But we wouldn't be smart if we let our moods influence our actions negatively. Be aware of your moods and, when you take action, make sure you are in charge - not your mood.

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