As Will pulls his car out of the company parking lot, his mind searches for relief. He's just endured another day with his controlling, egomaniac boss. He can't believe that this guy yelled at him publicly during a staff meeting for sending out a standard contract without permission. Just the thought of that humiliating moment makes Will's blood boil.
Will remembers there's a football game he can bet on, and drives to his favorite sports bar to watch it. Once there, he knocks back several bottles of beer. For dinner, he scarps down a plate of Buffalo wings, followed by some deep-fried onion rings. Heading home, Will begins to feel sick to his stomach. He goes to bed with extreme heartburn and wakes up hung over. He finds out that the team he bet on lost. Will's attempts to relieve his boss-related stress yesterday; only give him more tension (and heartburn) today.
Does this sound familiar? In an attempt to soothe ourselves after a tough day with a difficult boss, it's tempting to turn to our less healthy habits. Yet, as Will's story demonstrates, we usually feel worse about ourselves (and the boss) the following day. See if you can relate to any of the following coping mechanisms:
- Overeating (we don't mean carrot sticks) - Do you find yourself indulging in extra doses of candy, ice cream, chocolate, fried foods, chips, or baked goodies?
- Over-drinking (we don't mean water) - Are you meeting friends for drinks after work every night? Do you find yourself picking up a six-pack or a gallon of wine on the way home? ,
- Overspending - Have you maxed out one or more of your credit cards? Do you have unpacked bags of things you've bought but haven't used?
- Gambling - Are you a secret on-line gambler? Do you spend significant amounts of your paycheck on lottery tickets or OTB?
- Watching too much television -- Do hours go by as you aimlessly search the tube for something to hold your attention? Is your television or computer the only thing you can interact with after work?
- Playing too many video games - Are you eyes red and is your brain buzzing due to an overdose of video games? Do you stay up late - beyond what you intended - just to finish one more round?
- Sleeping too little or too much - Are you sleeping longer hours but feeling less rested? Or, has insomnia become a regular part of your nightlife?
In addition to these activities, you may find yourself fighting with loved ones, or abusing sex or drugs.
Turning to substances or recreational activities to drown out your dealings with a bad boss can provide temporary relief. It may even be entertaining to joke about how many re-runs you watched, how much chocolate you ate, or how hard you partied the night before.
Unfortunately, these short-term fixes do not offer long-term support. Instead, they create more problems.
Instead of acting out, we suggest you leave the boss at the office by taking actions to restore your energy in healthy ways. Restoring your energy will give you true relief from a toxic boss, and help you re-connect with your power.
How to Leave Your Boss at the Office
Engage in any form of exercise to release negative energy - Emotion is energy-in-motion. Negative emotions have a habit of hanging on. If you want to leave the boss behind, GET MOVING! We recommend brisk walking, running, yoga, Pilates, exercise class, weight training, basketball, tennis, kick boxing, ice skating, skiing, rollerblading, skateboarding, baseball, softball, martial arts, swimming, hiking.
Do any form of bodywork that clears your head and soothes your nerves - Meditation, massage, hot baths, hot showers, saunas, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, or steam baths. The method is up to you, but the more you relax your body, and clean out the toxins, the looser your boss's grip on you will be.
Seek medical attention - If your relationship with the boss has taken a toll on your body, seek the help of a professional. Go for physical check-ups, start physical therapy or invest in a nutritionist for assistance with your diet.
Take healthy escapes - A healthy escape gives you energy and perspective. Tap into nature's healing energy by taking a day or half-day trip to a local garden, forest, nature trail, beach lake or landmark. Treat yourself to a weekend getaway. Find ways to chill so that you can re-charge your batteries.
Hit the sack - Never underestimate the restorative effects of a good night's sleep.
If you're sleep-deprived, make it your business to get rest-full sleep. That means turning off the television, computer, BlackBerry, cell phone, iPod, radio, lights and any other distractions. It also means going to bed at a decent hour.
Ideally, we'd like you to make a Energy Restoring Plan. This is a personal strategy that you make part of your everyday routine. Your E.R.P. would include a consistent exercise program so that you can release stress regularly. It could also incorporate harm reduction activities such as reducing (not eliminating) your intake of mood altering substances like alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar and fat.
Let's return to Will after he's created his Energy Restoring Plan. Instead of driving to the Sports Bar after work, Will makes a deal with his buddy, Nick. They meet two days a week and either shoot hoops (if it's not raining) or go to the gym. In addition, Will decides to limit his intake of beer and fried foods to weekends only.
After a few weeks of this routine, Will notices a few things:
- He has more energy
- He feels less tense and experiences fewer mood swings
- He feels less bothered by his egomaniac boss
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