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How to reset your focus in a stressful moment at work

If you want to achieve peak performance in your work life, you’ve got to find ways to reset your focus. Things will crop up; mistakes will be made; projects will challenge you and situations might give you a headache from time to time.

Whatever is causing you to stress at work, give yourself the tools to reset your focus so you can bring presence and calm back to your workday.

Read on to learn how to reset your focus in the midst of a stressful moment.

How to reset your focus during a stressful day at work
Tune into your stress response

Socrates got it right when he offhandedly mentioned that ‘to know thyself is the beginning of all wisdom’. In order to combat overwhelm, you’ve got to get familiar with what your stress triggers are.

Self-awareness is critical to realising when you’re one step away from overwhelming so you can take action and change your state.

In order to tune into your stress response, ask yourself these questions:

What situations make me feel overwhelmed?

How do I behave when I feel out of control? (For example, getting huffy, slamming doors, making and drinking 100 cups of tea before 10am)

What do you notice in your body when you’re feeling overwhelmed? (For example, tightening in the chest, shoulders or jaw)

Create a reset strategy

Now it’s time to create your own personal game plan of what you can do to overcome stress during your workday.

Taking a break no matter how small can reduce mental fatigue and restore motivation, so let’s make it a priority.

We’ve put together a toolbox of options to help you hit reset based on the time frame you have available in the moment – right from only having 90 seconds all the way through to a 30-minute time slot.

There’ll be some reset rituals that you’ll absolutely love, and others that’ll make you want to cringe like nothing else. We’re all different, so take a look at the list below and make a note of the ones that appeal to you.

90 Second Reset:

● Take three deep belly breaths

● Tune into your senses in your immediate environment (name five things you can hear, five you can see, five you can smell, and five you can physically feel).

● Make a to-do list

● Make a have-done list

● Practise a quick meditation technique by focusing on your breathing

● Focus on an object in the room, count to ten and breathe deeply

10 Minute Reset:

● Grab a coffee or a tea with a colleague

● Stand up and stretch

● Go for a walk

● Make a herbal tea (and make one for someone else too)

● Have an outdoors break (feel the sun on your face and the grass between your toes)

● Play your favourite song

● Phone a good friend for a chinwag

● Schedule time to talk through what’s worrying you with someone

● Write down 5 things you’re grateful for

30 Minute Reset:

● Have a debrief with a trusted person

● Have a walk-and-talk meeting

● Walk a few blocks or through a local park

● Connect with someone you trust and talk about how you would like for things to be

● Help someone else

● Take an express exercise class

● Have lunch with someone you haven’t seen for ages

Got your list of reset rituals? Great. Keep your list nearby, on your desk or printed out so that when you feel overwhelm coming on you can take action and stop it in its tracks.

Do (just) it

I’m sorry Nike, but in this instance, we have to disagree. When it comes to resetting you’ve got to do just it, nothing else. We can undermine even our best efforts to chill out by distracting ourselves and hitting reset with split attention.

If you go for a walk but spend your time getting angrier about what Billy said last Tuesday, it’s nearly impossible to come back feeling refreshed. Leave Billy at the door before you step out and if it’s something you need to address, pick that issue up again when you step back in – now with a fresher perspective on the situation.

Once you’ve chosen how you are going to hit reset, drop the guilt and do just that thing.

The best way that you can serve and be there for the people around you is to take some time out. The team will be fine if you are not available for an hour, the kids will be okay if you get a babysitter and go to a yoga class, and the spreadsheet won’t pout in the corner if you step away from the computer.

Check-in with these questions before you begin your reset activity:

What distractions do I need to drop to focus on resetting?

Are there any feelings of guilt I need to reframe?

What difference would having a new perspective make on this situation?

Did you find this blog post useful? Be sure to pass it onto a colleague or better yet, give it a share on LinkedIn and spread the love. You’ll get a million brownie points from us if you do.

Want to learn more strategies for bringing calm to the chaos in your workplace and life? Grab yourself a copy of Stand Out by Ali Hill here.