How to Stay Calm Amidst the Chaos at Work

There are times in life, where one derails from the path of his/her long term vision and can only focus on the short term - taking one day at a time.

When you look at the larger picture retrospectively, sometimes it appears that what we had called “crisis” or “chaos” at work never existed. Smaller problems seem to snowball into larger complex issues that we create for ourselves, but no hell broke loose, no one lost a life and no one lost an arm or a leg during this so called “work crisis”. The crisis had been self manufactured. These “out of normal” work situations seem to elevate to crises in no time and get most people anxiety driven and panic stricken.

People going through such anxiety attacks acquire body languages where they are nibbling their lips, fidgeting with hands or objects, breathing faster, pounding their fists on work desks, punching their computer monitor, at times even using abusive language. We all know this isn’t the answer when you’re trying to keep hold of overflowing emotions at work. But how does one manage these emotions to get through the heat of the moment?


One may create a pause by just leaving the situation for a short while and creating the feeling of confidence within. Tell yourself that this happens and what you are dealing with is nothing out of the ordinary.

A long enough pause helps accomplish a sense of space. Keep looking for ways to pause long enough to find an appropriate positive response, and keep on the look out for at least one alternate response and choose the better of the two. This is way better than an automatic impulse response which may have negative consequences.

It is imperative to get into the habit of creating a pause each time one feels he/ she is experiencing a crisis like situation.

Just Breathe

We have all heard this before, but how many of us have indeed practiced this and made this a way of crisis handling? This, is perhaps one of the go to remedies for anxiety.

Though the very first instinct might be to open your mouth and snap back, just remember to shut your mind off for a second and breathe. Take 10 deep breaths, and it might help you buy time, step back, think and analyze resulting in finding the right response.

Take Timeouts

Taking timeouts to refuel and refresh the mind do not necessarily mean you are not engaged. You could take your lunch, munch on a snack, grab coffee or just step out of the confines of the four walls and get some fresh air. So many times, the responses are embedded deep in various layers of the brain and your brain needs time for those responses to move from the logical left brain, to the creative right brain, and then get decoded and to make perfect sense.  Such time outs sure help preserve one’s sanity and calm the mind.

Get Another Perspective

Losing perspective is one of the most common issues one has to deal with during a tough work situation. How many times have we asked ourselves, “ What is really going on here?” Gaining perspective to fix this basic question is the key to this problem.

Each one of us may adapt to different methods to gain perspective. One may want to rush to his/her most trusted colleague and share the problem to get another view point, provided the trusted colleague is in no way amplifying those problems and bringing one down to square one.

What if we also looked at the prism of problems from the other end or from a third person point of view? If there’s another person involved in the problem, take a minute to step into that person’s shoes for a bit. It might just help reduce the intensity of the crisis and help us come to terms with the existing situation and guide you through to a path untrodden.

Find Your Place of Happiness

Taking the time to go back to what makes one happy helps reduce all anxiety levels and de-stresses the body and the mind. Reading a few pages from your favorite book, browsing through your favorite sports website, playing a game, praying, meditating, listening to music, taking a stroll, indulging in some online retail therapy could help distract yourself and allow you to calm down. Once you’re happy and calm, you’ll have the needed kickstart to deal with the problem.

Acknowledge Your Emotions

One needs to realize that it is not external forces that make us display our emotions strongly. What we sense and tell our minds  creates such emotions, to which we simply react. Before placing blame and responsibility on other external forces, conflicts emerging from within need to be resolved.

As it has been said, instead of looking for things around you, it is important to first look for things within and the answer to all questions may just lie there.

Acknowledging one’s emotions gives tremendous self control and a sense of direction to channel all the stress.

Be Present

With all the new gadgets bringing more and more distractions at work or elsewhere each day, it is becoming increasingly difficult for one to be present and stay connected with one’s self. Being present while at work improves the quality of your work drastically.

When you are present and your mind is relaxed, one is able to better understand his/her emotions. There is this sudden ability to take in information without any distortion. Such a state of mind serves as a great tool to use one’s emotions as an input rather than being overwhelmed and disoriented. When the mind is open, there is an ability to easily see through a situation with skill instead of reacting out of fear or anxiety.

As quoted in the famous epic Bhagavad Gita, “The mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by practice”

Let’s not forget, that when all Mantras to de-stress fail, there is one big eternal Mantra that has held true for eons - “This too shall pass!”