What to Do When You’re Frustrated at Work

A frustrated worker sat at desk

Ready to throw the towel in? Are you on the verge of blowing your top?

Work life can get pretty frustrating, especially when facing difficult coworkers, poor management or an overload of tasks. But it’s important that you find ways to tackle any negative emotions. You don’t want to lose your job for shouting at a lazy colleague, after all, and neither do you want to receive a warning after ranting at your boss.

There are indeed many ways to stay calm at work and manage your frustrations.

If you feel like you’re about to go on an office rampage or quit your job, take a breather and consider these great tips for when you’re frustrated at work.

1. Wait Before You React

Before you decide to throw a pen holder at a colleague’s head, take a few seconds to think. Wait before you react to a negative situation and think before you speak.

An outburst at work will only make matters worse, so give yourself a short moment to recognise how you’re feeling by either stepping away from the situation or just giving yourself time to think. Indeed, noticing your negative feelings can prevent you from reacting and thus save you your job (and sanity).

2. Name that Feeling

According to Six Seconds, ‘naming your emotions is a remarkably effective method for making them less intense’.

As mentioned earlier, take some time out to think before letting frustration get the better of you. Try to name and recognise your feelings. Are you angry, sad or anxious? Talk to yourself and describe what you’re feeling.

This is a great way to calm your emotional response and give you more clarity. Chances are you won’t end up pulling your hair out over that micromanaging boss of yours.

3. Talk to Someone

Try venting your feelings. Let out your emotions. Allow someone else to hear your frustrations.

Talking to someone can help vent your rage and anxiety. Perhaps they feel the same way you do. Whether it’s with a colleague, HR manager, friend or partner, find someone who’s a good listener and offers positive advice. Expressing your feelings and emotions can be a great relief instead of holding it in.

And if the frustrations are really bad, consider talking to a superior – sharing your concerns or worries might help improve working conditions.

4. Look at it from the Outside

Feeling your face turn red with anger? About to burst into a fit of rage?

Perhaps you’re treating a colleague with disrespect. When you find yourself in these situations, try to look at yourself from an outsider’s perspective. This may be difficult when you’re in the heat of the moment, but it certainly helps. It encourages you to see things from another point of view.

Perhaps you are overreacting. Maybe you do need to calm down. Picturing yourself can help you cool down during stressful work situations and ensure that you maintain office etiquette.

5. Set a New Goal

Setting yourself a new goal can turn your train of thoughts around.

When you’re dealing with frustration at work, take a few minutes out of your mundane routine and set a new goal. Turn frustration into motivation by focusing your energy on something you want to do in life.

Turning your attention to more positive and stimulating thoughts can diminish any stress or frustrations you’ve been feeling at work.

6. Distract Yourself

Sitting at your office desk, stuck in a rut? Feeling those negative thoughts creep up on you?

Distracting yourself and stepping away from the situation is a great way of managing frustration. Before deciding to lash out at a coworker or smash the computer screen, get up and walk away. Step outside for some fresh air, take a walk around the office or go for an early lunch.

Sometimes, putting on headphones and listening to music can also distract you from your negative thoughts.

7. Imagine it’s One Year Later

Will you still be stressing over this in a year’s time? Will this matter a few months down the line?

Asking yourself these questions when feeling frustrated can help you reflect on the situation. Sure, that major deadline is weighing heavily on you, but in one year’s time, you’ll forget what you were even working on.

Just keep going. Think about your goals and long-term plans and ask yourself where does this all fit in. Is it worth losing sleep over? Will you still be thinking about it next year?

8. Write Down Your Thoughts

When in a moment of panic, grab a piece of paper to express your thoughts. Let out your frustrations in writing and jot down any solutions that might improve the situation.

Write down what’s making you unhappy. Is it a pileup of work? Could it be a negative coworker? Identify the problem and think of ways to change it.

The Writing Cooperative agrees: ‘Writing […] helps to get rid of negative thoughts’. Put as much description into your writing and overcome any frustrations you’re feeling at work.

9. Try Breathing Exercises

Is your manager driving you up the wall? Have you been assigned yet another project? Don’t panic; just breathe.

Putting a few minutes aside and focusing on your breathing can help purge yourself of those negative emotions. Slow your breathing and heart rate by practising deep-breathing exercises.

A great tip to follow during times of frustration is to breathe in slowly for five seconds, then breathe out slowly for another five seconds. Focus on your breathing, and you’ll find yourself calmer in a matter of minutes.

10. Visualise a Positive Situation

As mentioned earlier, it’s a great idea to distract yourself when you feel your emotions getting the better of you. Visualising a positive outcome of the situation can help turn your thoughts around.

Imagine yourself calm and stress-free and try to sense how it would feel to be rid of these negative emotions. You can also free your mind by thinking back to a happy time. Remember a funny time with a friend, reminisce on a holiday or think of your pet. Distracting your thoughts and visualising something else is a great way to stay calmer at work.

11. Focus on Your Strengths

Transform negative thoughts into positive ones by focusing on your strengths. Building your confidence during times of self-doubt and insecurity can help you deal with job frustration.

Avoid dwelling on failing that project or forget what that bossy coworker said to you by listing your strengths. Write down three things you like about yourself or you’re proud of and focus your energy on that.

Self-belief is a great tool when doubting your abilities at work.

12. Ground Yourself

If you find that an overload of work is stressing you out, learn to say ‘no’. Stand your ground and avoid taking on too much at once. You can even discuss these frustrations with management.

Tired of working overtime or skipping lunch? Set yourself strict rules about working hours. Have you thought about why you’re getting so agitated? Don’t know why you can’t concentrate? Maybe a lack of sleep or poor diet is to blame. Ground yourself by going to bed early and giving yourself more energy-boosting foods.

13. Smile

Life truly is too short to be angry.

When you feel frustrated at work, take some time out to simply smile. As strange as it sounds, even forcing a grimace can make you feel happier.

Talk to a funny colleague, read a humorous article or watch a funny video clip to change your thought process. Smiling really can trick your brain into happiness, so let go of those frustrations by grinning from ear to ear!

14. Balance Work and Life

Sometimes, stress at work can be even more demanding when you’ve got personal issues affecting you, too. It’s important that you keep your personal life at bay when at work. You’ve already got enough frustrations in the office; you don’t need to mull over life at home as well.

As difficult as this sounds, it must be done to avoid intense emotions and breakdowns at work. Balance work and life by separating the two at all times. Don’t bring your work frustrations home, and certainly don’t bring your personal issues into the office. Nobody cares about your argument with your partner when there are projects to hand in.

15. Practise Yoga

After a stressful and frustrating day at work, take your mind off it by practising yoga. Joining a yoga class after work can improve wellbeing and reduce stress.

There are exercises and techniques to practise that can help relieve any frustrations, both mentally and physically. In fact, any form of exercise can reduce anxiety, helping you feel more relaxed the following day.

Work life really can take a toll on your mental wellbeing. But as stated in this article, there are indeed effective ways to battle feelings of frustration and stress. It’s just a matter of composing yourself and stepping away from the situation – as difficult as it may be.

What other ways are there to eliminate frustrations at work? How did you battle those negative emotions in the workplace? Let us know in the comments section below!