Six coping strategies for when it’s tough at work

Work can be tough. There are some weeks, even months, that feel relentless. Long hours, horrid commutes, mean bosses and nasty co-workers. And inevitably we get things wrong from time to time too – I mean, we’re all human, right?

We all need to find our own coping strategies for when things get tough and make sure we find a way to weave them into our routine. These are mine:

Belly Breathing

When we’re stressed-out our breathing becomes shallower and faster. But as the mind follows the breath, by breathing deeper and slower we can reduce levels of stress hormones. Just 90 seconds of belly breathing can help trick our bodies into thinking the threat has passed. Here’s how:

  1. Place your hand on your stomach and inhale through your nose slowly and deeply so that your stomach pushes out.
  2. When you have inhaled as much as you can, pause for a second or two and gently hold the breath.
  3. Exhale slowly through the mouth by pulling your belly in.
  4. Repeat for at least 90 seconds.


Practicing non-resistance is a huge energy saviour. When I’m not enjoying work I wake up in a stinker of a mood. I resist the idea of starting the morning commute. I resist the idea of having a job at all. Reminding myself that this futile resistance is a huge waste of energy – after all I choose to work rather than live on handouts – helps me feel more in control of my daily life.


In Caroline Webb’s book How to Have a Good Day she advises adopting a distanced perspective when you’re worried. One way you can do this is by asking yourself ‘how will I feel about this in a month or year from now?’ or ‘what would I advise a friend if they were going through the same thing?’.


I find practising gratitude is like magic. I keep a gratitude list on my phone and when I’m struggling I find a quiet spot and add to it; listing things I am grateful for until my mood starts to lift.

Slowing down

When the pressure is on my natural instinct is to speed up. To try to do more in less time. I talk faster, walk faster, think faster, but it’s verging on frantic and incredibly draining. When I feel myself wanting to speed up, I have to remind myself that it is actually counterproductive. What I need to do is slow down. If I don’t, I end up burnt out, sick or making mistakes. So I force myself to take a break and drop the pace a notch or five.

Yoga nidra

Yoga nidra or yogic sleep is a relaxation technique that has dug me out of many an exhausted hole. It requires 30-45 minutes and involves listening to a guided audio. There are tons available for free on YouTube and in the apps store. Do listen to a sample before picking one because if the voice grates on you it isn’t very relaxing!

How about you? What coping strategies do you use to get you through a tough patch? Let us know in the comments.