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Taming Mood Swings

Whether from pregnancy hormones, PMS, or lack of sleep, mood swings may sometimes be a problem on the job. To deal with emotional ups and downs at your workplace:

  • Create a support system. Build a network  -- your partner, friends, trusted coworkers  -- to call when you need a release or to help reset your emotional clock.

  • Take breaks. When you're tired or overworked, you're more likely to become cranky. Scatter such no-brainer tasks as returning calls or reading the company newsletter throughout the day; schedule ten-minute time-outs in your planner, just as you'd pencil in meetings; and if you have your own work space, play relaxing music. At lunch, head outside, even if it's just to grab food. A change in environment helps.

  • Get physical. Try not to sit at your desk for long stretches. Getting your blood circulating can help alleviate discomfort and lift your mood. "I tell my patients to become less efficient," says Iffath Hoskins, M.D., director of Women's Services at Memorial Health University Medical Center, in Savannah, GA. "If you usually get up to run several errands at once  -- make copies, retrieve faxes, go to the mailroom  -- do them separately instead so that you're up and about more."

  • Don't make excuses. If you snap at a colleague, refrain from blaming your hormones. You may win sympathy, but you'll also be resented by those who feel you're copping out or can't handle your job. It's better to simply apologize.
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