“If you believe your boss is an overbearing fool, you have no control over how they behave, but you do have control over how you react to their behavior. So go through each of the points (good and bad) and mark ‘control,’ ‘influence,’ or ‘no control’. It’s then down to you to take the parts that light you up and you have control over, and to work out a plan to incorporate more of that into your every day.”
Ellera suggests, “Look at the parts that frustrate you but you have control over, and work out how you can get less of that in your day. Once you’ve worked on these, go onto the things that you have influence over and do the same. Then consciously agree to let go of the things you have no control over. But know that even with these, you always have control over how you choose to react to them. And it is a choice.”
Learn to soothe your nervous system.
“When we get stressed, we lose full access to parts of our brain, as the body is focusing on more imminent threats (previously the hungry lion, now the looming deadline or the angry looking boss heading your way). When our body is in this threat mode, we also lose the ability to communicate properly and build connections with others, both of which are imperative for our workplace success and mental well-being,“ Ellera says.
“So to step out of this threat mode, we need to learn to soothe our nervous system, and we can do this by starting to become more aware of how our body is feeling in the moment. Are you breathing deeply, are your shoulders and jaw relaxed, are you feeling calm? Or are you taking short breaths in the top of your chest, feeling like you’re about to explode?
“Set a reminder on your phone to repeat every hour, and when it goes off, just take notice,” she instructs. “Become aware of what’s happening internally. Allow yourself the grace of taking three long, deep breaths in, exhaling each as slowly as you can through pursed lips, imagining you’re breathing out through a straw. This allows your nervous system to calm and means that your body can function fully and your brain can work optimally—because you can’t thrive in your job if your body is stuck in threat mode.”
Career experts give us the low-down.
Connect with others.
It takes a lot of energy for our body to function properly, and a lot of the time, we are taking more out of it than we are replenishing. This means we end up in an energy deficit; that’s when we feel sluggish, sleepy or downright exhausted.
“One thing that can help us to feel rejuvenated is to connect with people who make us feel safe,” says Ellera. “People who feel good to be around. This is when we can co-regulate our nervous systems—we move into step with other people’s breathing and heart-rate rhythm when we are relaxed with them. This can give us more energy and motivation in our workday. The key to this is making sure these relationships are built with growth in mind, so not hanging around with the group that spend their time complaining about work or their boss.