The Definitive Guide to Business
The Definitive Guide to Business

Stanford management expert: 3 simple steps to control your emotions at work

Everything you need to know about emotional intelligence

LinkedIn's latest research finds that just over half of working professionals in the U.S. say their jobs are stressful. As a result, plenty of people are feeling the physical, mental and emotional toll of that stress.

"We will spend 90,000 hours of our lives working. That's an immense amount of time and it's vital that we think about the 'how' of our work lives because if we're putting off our mental wellbeing and our physical wellbeing to some later time outside of work, it's not going to happen," Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer Leah Weiss tells CNBC Make It.

In order to better cope with feelings of anxiety or discomfort at work, Weiss says that "one of the key resources is to realize your ability to be comfortable with emotions."

"Do not suppress them and become like a balloon that's poking itself in and will eventually burst," says Weiss, the author of the new book "How We Work."

Everything you need to know about emotional intelligence

At Stanford, Weiss teaches a course called "Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion." Notably, many of her students are millennials who have worked for a few years and are back in school before returning to the workforce, Weiss explains. She teaches them the basics of mindfulness or the intentional use of attention.

"For them, it's really important to be preparing themselves to be resilient, to be training their minds and their hearts so that they can put their whole selves into their jobs," Weiss says, "but also at the same time create the lives that they want to live."

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by stress, here are three simple steps Weiss teaches her students to reduce anxiety and discomfort while at work.

Take deep breaths

If you notice that you're upset, the first thing Weiss recommends doing is taking a few deep breaths, which "can downregulate our physiology," or otherwise calm your body down.

"When we're upset, our body gets into a fight-or-flight mode, which means that we become more reactive," Weiss says. "We can't think when we're in fight or flight mode. Our mental resources are hijacked."

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Once you feel calmer, you will be better able to ask yourself: "What are the sensations that you're experiencing when you're upset? Is it in your chest? Where is it in your body?" Weiss says.

"Tuning into the physicality of our emotions helps change our experience of them and helps us to become less reactive," she says.

Anchor yourself

One way to ground yourself when feeling overcome by stress is to practice anchoring — or bringing full awareness to your present state of being — right at your desk.

"When you're nervous [and] if you're feeling anxious about something you need to do, put your attention on your feet," Weiss says. "Feel your feet supported by the ground, feel the chair holding you and feel your body."

"It's a way to get out of our heads ... and calms us down," she adds.

Move around

"Another really useful way to bring mindfulness in is when you're moving [around]," Weiss says.

Whether it's stretching, going for a walk, taking a lunch break or walking from your desk to a conference room, Weiss says you should use that time to feel your body and feel yourself moving instead of using that time to think about what is upsetting you.

"Learning to feel these sensations and understanding how to be emotionally intelligent will translate into a better work life for you and will make way for better work relationships," Weiss says.

Following these steps, Weiss says, "will help you accomplish what you want and be a leader."

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