Dealing with Uncertainty at Work

The world is changing at a rapid pace. The pandemic shook up the way we do business, our work routines, and how we think about our lives. Add war, inflation, political unrest, and climate change, and you’ve got a lot of uncertainty. In this episode of My Crazy Office, Kathi and Katherine offer concrete ways to manage uncertainty on the job and in general.

#16: Accountability Without Added Stress – My Crazy Office, Season 7

Kathi and Katherine talk about accountability and stress on this week’s episode of the My Crazy Office podcast.

First we give advice to a manager on how to hold staff accountable without adding stress.

Then we discuss how employees can set limits at work.

Stress Management Strategies: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 7

Kathi and Katherine talk about stress management on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

How are you managing stress during these very stressful times?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

The Importance of Being Present

With all of the upheaval and uncertainty we are facing, it can be more challenging than ever to be in the present moment. With the threat of another wave of COVID-19, with the death and losses already endured from the virus, with the pain and outrage over police brutality and the many forms of institutional racism that plague our communities, our emotions are running at a high pitch. Our minds either race forward to predict outcomes or look back to assign blame. 

No matter how angry or sad or anxious you are, coming into the present moment can help.

Being in the present moment gives us the chance to take a break from projecting forward with catastrophic images, from obsessing about what is coming. Being present creates the space to feel our feelings, breathe into our bodies, and slow down the racing mind. 

Being present is not a solution to the many challenges that lie ahead, but it is a tool for managing our feelings and projections more effectively, so that we can take constructive actions in the short term. 

If, for example, you find yourself constantly worried about the future of your industry or concerned about losing your job, being present can give you the headspace to examine the reality of your current situation – exactly what is happening – and generate a list of small actions that you can take to protect yourself right now.  

How do we bring ourselves into the present moment?

  • Breathe – Check your breath right now. Is it shallow or deep? Is it fast or slow? Are your chest and shoulders tight or loose? Can you feel your stomach going in and out? Breathing slowly, deeply, consciously for 5 – 10 breaths will do more than anything to take you out of your head and put you into your body. Regular deep breathing will take your mind out of obsessing about tomorrow and into dealing with today. 
  • Exercise— We’ve said it before and will say it again, exercise is a great way to move the emotional and mental energy in your body, to release tension and stress, and to ground you in the present moment. The more wound up you feel, the more you will need to exercise. Run, walk, do video workouts, try yoga, play a sport – if any of these options work for you, make sure to do them.
  • Take an inventory – This tried and true technique for getting out of your head and coming into the present moment involves answering five questions that examine your current reality and clarify your options: What’s happening here (what is the story that has you emotionally wound up)? What are the facts? What is beyond my control? What is in my control? What are my options?
  • Meditate – Meditation is not about rising above what’s happening, it’s about learning to sit with whatever feelings and thoughts you have so that they aren’t just surging through your body creating discomfort. You can try meditating on your own or enlist the help of an app like Headspace, Calm, or 10% Happier. Whatever form of meditation you attempt will help usher in the present moment.

As we venture back to work, as we contend with the many public health, economic and societal challenges ahead, it is worthwhile to make a concerted effort to stay in the present moment as often as possible. By grounding ourselves in the present moment, and making short term plans, we can turn sadness into compassion, anger into activism, and anxiety into constructive planning.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Is Someone Getting on Your Last Nerve?

My husband was noticeably irritated with me last night. He said that I was “yawn talking.” Do you know what yawn talking is? It’s when you keep talking even as you yawn. Apparently, I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and it’s extremely annoying.

My initial reaction after being accused of “yawn talking,” was to strike back. If I do that, then he “burp talks.” But that isn’t really the point. The point is, we’ve been sheltering in place for too long, and we’re getting on each other’s nerves. Critical words, verbal tics, grating habits, and nonverbal gestures that we might normally have shrugged off are getting to us.

You may find yourself in a similar situation. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard numerous complaints from my clients about other people’s bad behavior. It could be a boss who is making more-than-usual unreasonable demands. A family member who is acting out. A coworker who is chronically late – even for Zoom meetings. Perhaps you have an upstairs neighbor who is playing loud music or moving furniture late at night.

None of these may be new behaviors, but they feel more irritating today. It’s the emotional by-product of extended captivity in the name of staying safe.

If your nerves are frayed, your temper is quick, and you feel overly reactive to the behavior of others, you are not alone. The question is, what can we do to calm our systems down?

Here are a few tips:

Shift your energy – I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Confined living creates pent up energy which needs to be released one way or another. Run, jog, dance, squirm, have a pillow fight, take a bath, step outside, take ten deep breaths. Do something to shift the energy and relax your system. The more rigorous the movement, the better the release.

Ask yourself, “how important is it?” – If someone criticizes you, interrupts you, ignores you, makes a sarcastic remark, or offends you in some way, try to pause and ask yourself if it’s worth getting upset about. Is this a matter of life or death? Is your welfare truly threatened by this person/event/remark?

Let someone talk you off of the ledge – Sometimes you may know that you are over-reacting but you can’t help yourself. At these times, it’s smart to call a trusted friend or confidante, voice your complaint, and let them calm you down.

Try to find the humor – This isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the effort. I am forever grateful to those people who can find the humor in difficult moments. Laughter relaxes the nervous system and puts small problems in their proper perspective. If you can find what’s funny in a tense exchange, both parties will benefit.

There is no miracle cure for our frayed nerves at this time. We don’t know exactly when we will be less confined, more mobile, less fearful. While we do our best to manage our lives during the pandemic, let’s all commit to doing what we can to soothe our over-worked nerves.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.