Below are strategies to try to stay calm and centred when those around you seem stressed and irritable.

Take three deep breaths

Take several deep breaths, breathing in and out as deep as possible. This prevents your body from reacting to the stress around you. 

Practice gratitude

Find your calm in high-stress situations with a gratitude practice. Close your eyes and as you breathe, think of what you’re thankful for with each breath. This will lift your spirits and get your positive thoughts flowing.

Remind yourself to focus on your own energy

Take a moment to remind yourself, ‘That’s their energy, not my energy.’ Make a conscious effort to distinguish between your fears and that of others.

Come from a place of compassion

Where you feel you may be on the brink of taking on the negativity of someone else, try to find compassion for the person who is visibly stressed. Aside from taking things personally, a common reaction to people who are visibly stressed is to judge them. Try and remain rooted in a place of compassion because we have all been there at some point in time. Remind yourself that whatever is impacting their mood so drastically must be really difficult. Finding compassion can remind us not to take things personally and create an opportunity to connect with someone on a deeper level to offer support.

Tap into a happy memory

Once tension creeps into the office, it can become palpable and raises anxiety levels for everyone around.  When you sense other people are stressed, place your hands on your desk, palms-down, close your eyes, even if it’s only for a few seconds, and think of the place that you’ve always enjoyed as a child. This little exercise may immediately ground and centre you.

Try the “A.B.C.” method 

To help stay centred in a high-stress environment, practice the A.B.C. method: awareness, breath, choice. Awareness is the first tool. The second is breathing. Every breath helps you stay calm. The third is conscious choice. You choose to remain calm while offering support to others.

Start your day with a meditation

Try starting your mornings with a meditation, it gives a sense of calm to carry you through the day.

Hear the person out

Don’t dismiss what others are feeling by saying something like, ’It will be OK.’ They may be living through something crazy or scary. Take a few minutes to just let them vent or share. Don’t judge, just listen.

Write down one thing you can control

While we can’t always control what happens to us or around us, we can definitely take stock of how we react and reflect our own emotions. When others around you are stressed write down the things you have control over. Keeping a list gives perspective and the act of writing something down is calming in and of itself. It helps to reflect and refocus.

Offer your support

When you notice that someone around you is irritable, firstly remind yourself that it is about them, not you. Instead of asking ‘What’s wrong?’ ask, ‘How can I support you?’ This subtle change in language feels less confrontational and allows you to assist the recipient in a way that feels truly supportive to them in that moment.