The Underrated Trick to Keeping Your Bad Mood in Check at the Office
Your alarm doesn’t go off because you had it set to PM instead of AM. When you open the fridge to grab milk for your coffee, a bottle of hot sauce goes flying and within seconds, your kitchen floor’s splattered with Cholula. You manage to clean it up with barely enough time to spare without being seriously late.
On your way into the office, you look down at your hip and realize your leftovers are leaking onto your jeans. So now you smell like garlic chicken. To top it off, you’re still reeling from the argument you had with your sister last night about, of all things, what kind of party to throw for your parents’ 40th anniversary. You’d just as soon like to crawl into a dark hole—or, better yet, your bed—than put on a chipper face and strike up small talk with your co-workers, none of whom seem to be wearing any part of their afternoon meal on their outfit.
It’s difficult to think of the work you’ve got to do today for eight or more hours. Ugh, and that meeting with the legal team at 5 PM? Who cares that Jeanine is going around with homemade zucchini bread? Or that the engineering team finally fixed that bug? Your sister hasn’t responded to your last three texts, and you didn’t have time to work out this morning due to said alarm issue.
Oh, boy. It’s going to be a long day if you don’t snap out of it—as if snapping out of it is something you can just magically do when your insides are burning, and you’re, in a way, feeding off of your wretched mood. While it may feel good to temporarily bask in the seething glow that is currently you, you could really come to regret it. No need to damage your professional reputation because you let your foul mood seep into everything you say and do. Unlike your BFF or your partner, your team might not be so understanding if you take it out on them and then try to explain and apologize once you’re feeling better.
You, my friend, must learn to manage your bad mood. You don’t have to accept your colleague’s invitation to grab coffee, and you don’t need to be imminently present in every group chat conversation. Don’t feel like talking to Greg about last night’s baseball game like you guys usually do? So don’t.
The key to keeping your unpleasant mood in check during the workday is to say as little as possible. By staying quiet, you avoid the risk of opening your mouth and saying the first snarky thing that comes to mind. By remaining mostly mum (where you can get away with it) you forgo offending someone with your sarcasm, which feels like the only language you know today.
Muse Career Coach Kristina Leonardi suggests using the bad mood as “an exercise in the discipline of being in the present and concentrating on the task at hand.” This might actually get you out of the bad mood, or “even just make you feel temporarily better since you're not ruminating on it,” explains Leonardi. So zero in on your work and zone everything else out.
You’re obviously going to have to respond if you’re being called upon for a workday matter, but you’d be surprised at how much you can keep to yourself without anyone really noticing. Even if you’re generally very gregarious, it’s unlikely that anyone but your closest friend at work is going to call you out on it much less notice.
Everyone around you likely has enough of their own stuff to deal with. You laying low for a day and never taking off your headphones isn’t going to have much of an impact, if any. Trust me: Shooting your mouth off because the toxic attitude is seeping and spreading is going to have a far bigger negative impact than temporarily withdrawing. No one is exempt from being in a bad mood, but the sooner you can learn to manage it, the better off you’ll be.
Photo of man having a bad day courtesy of Zero Creatives/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author