MSNBC has a great article on how to beat stress, which features many people talking about what they do when the going gets tough.
Here, I’ve picked out seven of the tips that I felt were probably the most relevant to readers of this blog, and written up my own summaries for most of them.
When all eyes are on you at a critical moment
When you’ve established a routine, then the critical moment should become part of the routine. You don’t need to change anything about how you work. The trick is to treat the moment like you’d treat it when it wasn’t as critical. Like shooting the last shot of a big game. If you treat it differently than a shot in the first quarter of the game, then you risk over doing it and over thinking it. Same thing in surgery: keep the same intense focus, and don’t panic. Never forget to breath.
When your boss is hassling you
Get yourself out of the situation for a breather, and go wash your hands or use the restroom. Give yourself some time for the anger, and let it play out. Then, re-approach your boss with a simple question, like “what can I do to help work this out?” This way, you can get things settled and become a team-player. Let go of your anger, and be collaborative.
When you’ve lost a loved one
For this one, I think the solution they give is more than adequate:
For two days every week, schedule 10 minutes to grieve. Unless you plan, it’s too easy to dodge the sadness — especially in the first couple of months after the funeral. And taking control of the process prevents unresolved issues from lingering. Shoot for early evening, when anything kicked up won’t affect your sleep. Take a 5-minute walk to unwind, then pull out photos to bring the departed front and center. Now ask two questions: What have you lost? What’s the effect? You see what’s missing from your life, so you can shift to problem solving, says Michael McKee, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Now hit the gym. It’ll end the grieving session, and the endorphins will lift your mood. Overall, doing the two activities will model what you’re striving for — the knowledge that sad and happy can coexist.
When your to-do list seems insurmountable
Add some more entries. 10 more. Add ten things to the list that you are grateful for. It will help you to put things into perspective, and whenever you look at the list, you will be reminded of those things are you are getting the tough things done.
When your kid is stressed by won’t say why
Go for a long car ride with your kid. It is private and there’s nothing else to do but to talk. Start casually, and slowly start to talk about things that stressed you out. Perhaps with a story from your own childhood. They’ll respond in one of two ways: identifying with the problem, or by saying that it’s completely different than when you were their age. The problem is most likely with school, friends or family, and you’ll be able to gather more information on where the problem is. You might not be able to solve it, but it’ll do some good, because they’ll be opening up about it, and that’s the most important thing. Just don’t push too hard or get too angry with them, if at all. They might close themselves up completely.
When you need to handle every detail of a complex operation
Here’s another where I’m going to quote directly.
In the moment before you begin, take a mental inventory of the critical steps to success. Here’s how Ali Rezai, M.D., a neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, preps for the first cut. “While I’m scrubbing my hands, I’m reviewing all the aspects of the case. That puts me into a highly focused state and cleans my mind of distractions. During surgery, I’m constantly reviewing the steps with the operating-room staff. It takes everyone onto the next page and into a rhythm. When I’m faced with an emergency, the calmer I am, the calmer everyone else becomes.”
When you need to close the deal
Don’t over think it, don’t try to be perfect. Play your role to the best of your ability, and rely on others that are focused on the same goal. Remember, you’re looking for the same solution as the rest of the team, and you’ve got the ear of the potential buyer. That makes ounce of an opening shows that they are looking for a solution of some kind, and are willing to give you a chance. You don’t have to be perfect, but relax and you’ll make a better sales pitch.