Listen, I don’t want to be the person to break this to you, but you’re going to get frustrated at work. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon. And frequently. In fact, there’s an excellent chance you’re frustrated right now.
Stress and frustration plague us in the modern world. We have so much to do, and so little time to do it. We’re all frazzled, exhausted, and discombobulated. But what we can we do? We accept it as part of life, believing that to be alive means to be stressed, frustrated, frayed, defeated, and worn out. If you’re not, you’re doing something wrong.
Except no. Research is only just starting to show us that stress can be a killer. We must take the time to reduce our stress and vent our frustration. Otherwise, we run the risk of serious mental, emotinal, and physical health issues.
So vent. Find an outlet. Do something. That’s relatively easy at home, right? You can pick and choose your preferred method without fear or reprisal or reprimand. But at work? Different story.
The irony, of course, is that you’re just as likely (who are we kidding...you’re way more likely) to be frustrated at work as you are at home. Demanding boss and clients. Irritating colleagues. Malfunctioning equipment. Tight deadlines. Small spaces. No privacy. It can eat away at you.
It can be more difficult, but it’s also more important to unleash your frustration at work. No one can function under stressful conditions for long. But it has to be healthy, SFW ways. You don’t want to erupt and punch that annoying customer in the nose.
Venting is sometimes looked down upon, but it makes us feel better. It gets the steam out, instead of building the pressure until it explodes all over the break room. Even better, venting with someone provides us with the sympathy we crave, and an impartial opinion on whether we’re making too much of something. So get yourself a bitch buddy.
The next time you find yourself getting frustrated at work (i.e. every single day), try one of these suggestions. Shallow breathing? Tight chest? Headache? Clenched fists? You need a stress solution. A frustration fixer.
1. Break Something
Nothing makes us feel better when we’re stressed or frustrated than punching, kicking, or breaking something. Is it healthy? Maybe not. Is it appropriate for work? Definitely not. But, you have access to a little magic box that can whisk you around the world and deliver virtually anything to your fingertips. I am talking, of course, about the internet.
God bless cyberspace. Now, instead of throwing your computer against the wall in a fit of rage and being forced to take a leave of absence and a court-mandated anger management course, you can do it digitally. Say hello to the glorious Whack Your Computer. It provides 12 sinfully entertaining ways to smash your laptop for all it’s worth. Slice it to dust with swords. Pour water on it and vaporize it. Pin it to the wall with an axe. It’s remarkable how much better you’ll feel afterwards...and no messy police intervention or costly replacement bills.
2. Just Breathe
Taking a pause in your day to refocus and rebalance is good for the soul. There are many services to help you, and Calm is one of the best. Head to the lake beach, or mountains. Soak in the scenery and sounds of nature. Stop and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Calm allows you to do all of that without leaving your desk chair, so the boss can’t get angry. You can use guided meditation (both the calm and body scan meditations are available for free), or simply set the timer for anywhere from 2-20 minutes. In addition to the website, there’s also an app available for Android and iOS. Meditation is a known stress reducer, and its health benefits are far-reaching.
3. Punch Someone
Again, we need to stay in the virtual world, unless you’re looking to spend a few quiet years behind bars. From the same people that brought you Whack Your Computer comes the (slightly) more violent Whack Your Boss. It presents you with 24 ways to attack and maim the pompous, irritating manager standing in your cubicle. Golf club, stapler, umbrella, briefcase, and coffee mug are just a few of your options. Is it passive aggressive and a bit scary? Yes. Will it make you feel better about having to work this weekend? Yes. Obviously, we don’t condone violent behaviour, and assaulting someone is never the answer. But a video game that lets you do it without any of the consequences might be just the thing you need.
4. Have a Laugh
Laughter is the best medicine. So laugh. Find a moment to read or watch something humorous. Low Morale is an entertaining website with “animations portraying one man’s struggle to cope with the soul-sapping, will-to-live draining, life-force mugging, morale crushing experiences of work”. It’s funny because we can all relate.
5. Unleash Your Inner Shakespeare
Okay, maybe not...unless you want to start writing tragedies in iambic pentameter. But writing down how you’re feeling is an effective, quiet, and work-appropriate way to get your stress and frustration out. That’s the whole point of keeping a diary and journaling. People do it because it works. The next time you feel frustrated, grab a pen (it works better when you do this by hand rather than typing...it’s more tactile and cathartic) and start writing. Don’t worry about word choice or even using full sentences the key is just to write.
Why are you frustrated, who or what is the cause, what would you like to say to them, and so on. Vent on the page. Get it out! When you’re finished, you’ll feel better. Keep what you wrote private, or tear it up and toss it. You could even share your frustration with others via a live journal or forum like Note to Asshat or Dear Asshat. It’s anonymous (if you choose), and people can read what you wrote, and even comment. You can browse through what other people are experiencing...and if that doesn’t make you feel better, nothing will. Misery loves company.
6. Squeeze Something
Stress balls may seem a bit too gimmicky and cutesy, but they do work. When we’re feeling stressed or frustrated, we tense and clench, so squeezing and releasing something helps to dissipate that energy and tension. And the mindless, repetitive action serves to distract us from whatever is causing the stress in the first place. So get a stress “thing”...ideally something that looks a bit like your boss.
7. Find a Confidante
A bitch session in the middle of the day can be a godsend. Find someone who will listen and sympathize, but not the source of your frustration (that would be awkward). Ensure you can trust them, of course. If no one is available, turn to a virtual ear on a website like Job Schmob, where they aim “to help alleviate the symptoms of work rot”. You can write about your job frustration, or read about someone else’s. Both will make you feel better.
8. Get Your Blood Pumping
Exercise is a fantastic fix. It gets you moving and disperses the energy coursing through your system. If you can, get out and hit the nearest gym. Opt for something physical like boxing, or working with a punching bag, or high tempo running. If you can’t get out, try doing a few push-ups in your office or cubicle. As an added bonus, the ladies like to see a physically fit man, so there’s that, too (in case your love life is causing any additional frustration...two birds, one stone).
Okay, a disclaimer: this one is probably not going to win you any friends or employee of the month awards, and it could very well get you fired. Having said all of that, does anything make us feel better than a little afternoon delight (of either the solo or partner variety)? It might not be possible, it’s probably a horribly bad idea, but it will improve your mood, lower your blood pressure, and release endorphins (the “feel good” hormones). The benefits are many. Obviously, if you’re going to try this one, we’re not talking about in your cubicle, the shared lounge, or the copy room...and don’t say I didn’t warn you. But come on...it certainly does qualify as “awesome”.
Stress happens. Frustration shows up on even the best days. It comes with working anywhere, in any industry. As Hans Selye said, “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”
So what will your reaction be? Don’t get angry. Get better. Vent. Open the floodgates for a controlled release. You’ll survive much longer, and be much happier.
What’s your favourite trick for venting frustration at work? Leave your suggestions in the comments box below...