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When a Co-Worker Irritates You

3 Ways to Feel Better when a Co-Worker Gets on Your Nerves

written by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD August 29, 2019
When a Co-Worker Irritates You

It’s a real thing when someone gets on your nerves. “Your nerves” send electricity to your cortisol, and that creates the feeling that your survival is threatened. To make matters worse, this activation connects your neurons so they release the stress chemicals even faster the next time. You can end up with a lot of co-worker stress even though you don’t think this consciously. But you can recover quickly if you know these three facts about your brain chemistry.

1. Cortisol is excreted in about 2 hours.

Your body metabolizes and eliminates stress chemicals, so you can be stress-free two hours from now – unless you trigger more. But we do trigger more because our brain is designed to look for threats when the cortisol is on. You’re skilled at finding a threat when you look so it’s easy to end up in a stress loop. To stop it, distract yourself with something pleasant for a couple of hours. That’s hard to do, of course, because everything bugs you when cortisol is flowing. But if you plan ahead, you can have non-triggering activities to turn to while your cortisol is being eliminated. Think of tasks you can do when your patience is thin and set them aside. When I’m triggered, I plan trips, do graphics, chop vegetables, and read mail from my readers. But sometimes I need to just stretch while watching an episode of Maron. (He’s tackling his anger management problems with hilarious honesty.)

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