How to Stop Feeling Angry at Work

No matter what the situation, it's important to keep desk rage in check.

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Andrew G. Rosen
Everybody gets angry. Feeling frustrated by an annoying coworker or stressed over a missed deadline is a natural emotion. What's important is how we deal with those negative feelings. No matter what the situation, it’s critical not to water the seed of anger, but to extinguish it as soon as possible.

Here are five fail-proof ways to reduce office anger and keep desk rage in check:

Practice Zazen

The backbone of Zen Buddhism, zazen is a form of seated meditation. It’s easy to practice a modified version at work because you don’t need any equipment. All you need is your butt in a chair.

First, loosen anything on your body that feels tight, like your watch, collar, or belt. Next, sit up straight, making sure your spine is erect. With your eyes half open, take a deep breath, filling your belly with air. When you exhale, feel your belly return to its normal position. Concentrate on your mind or your breath–and nothing else.

Modified work zazen is easy to hide from your co-workers; no one will realize you’re doing it. If you’re ever questioned by your boss, let him or her know that you’re focusing on deep breathing to improve your concentration and productivity.

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Go for a Walk

As soon as you start to see anger rear its ugly head, get up–and get out. Instead of simmering in negative juices, go for a quick walk. Your stroll can be as short as a few steps or as long as circling the parking lot; the distance and destination are irrelevant. The goal here is to change your mood, and more importantly, your body’s chemistry. By standing up, you change your blood pressure, and in the process, break the rhythm of anger.

You can also build walking meditation into your work routine.

Count Breath

Anger often compromises our awareness, so we no longer see things clearly. When this happens, it’s helpful to count breath. Breathe deeply through your nose and exhale evenly through your mouth. After several repetitions, view the situation that made you angry from another perspective. Picture the person who upset you as a child. Or imagine writing your boss’ eulogy. It sounds morbid, but an odd or unusual visual can shock you into seeing the situation from a different perspective, helping to restore your clarity.

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When anger and frustration strike, smile! Curling your lips sends positive vibes throughout your body, short-circuiting negative feelings in the process. A simple smile can relax your body, relieve stress, bolster your immune system, lower your blood pressure, and release endorphins. Plus, it’s contagious!

Schedule “Angry Time”

Our work-life balance is often thrown off when we relive the highs and lows of office life with our family or friends. This is where planning to release your anger can pay off. Set aside 10 minutes a day to tell your husband or wife about your work problems. The key is to use the time when you need it and keep it brief. After you share, make a conscious effort to not think or talk anymore about the work situation.

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No matter why you’re angry, reacting quickly when the feeling strikes and making a conscious effort to change course will help you feel and work better.

Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job.