How to cope with stress in 5 easy steps

Today, my colleague Max experienced a bit of a travel disaster which led to high levels of stress which impacted the rest of her day.  It was already going to be a difficult one with tight timescales to meet but missing a train when you are meant to be interviewing people creates the kind of problems we would all like to be without.

This is how Max’s day started…

She had the plan all worked out.  Get up at 6.30am, get self ready, get the children up and ready, grab Weetabix for children’s breakfast, leave the house at 7.35am, drop children at granny’s house with aforementioned cereal supplies, leave granny’s at 7.50am and head to the station with plenty of time to make the 8.55am train to north Wales.

Things were going well. All was on track. Until…

8.15am – traffic begins to slowdown.  Not to worry.  Plenty of time.

8.23am – traffic comes to a standstill.  It’s ok.  Don’t panic, I can still make it.

8.30am – the realisation sets in that it is going to be a real struggle to get to the station in time.

By this point, every light is red, the counter is moving ever closer to the 8.55am departure time and the usually helpful notifications were coming through frequently telling her how little time was left until the train’s departure.

By the time Max was able to park, there were just 12 minutes to go and still an 8 minute walk to get to the station and a ticket to collect. Still thinking that by some miracle, she might be able to get that train, she ran as fast as she could to the station, dragging a suitcase and rucksack behind her.

Of course, nothing went smoothly at the station either and she finally reached the platform to see the train pull away.

So what did she do to manage her stress throughout this situation that might help when living through your own nightmare morning?

1)      Breathe – the first thing to do when you feel stressed is to breathe.  Your heart rate increases in these situations and you feel hot under the collar so if you can get your breathing under control, you can get the situation under control also.

2)      Plan for the worst but hope for the best – throughout the whole time, Max was hopeful that she would make it and did everything she could to get there in time.  However, in the back of her mind, she was thinking ‘what is the next best thing if the current plan doesn’t work out?’.

3)      Take stock and get some perspective – yes, she really wanted to be on the train and support colleagues with the interviews but if she didn’t make it, others could manage or she might be able to rearrange the times and get the next train instead.

4)      Get support – technology means that your support network is never far away so Max sent a what’s app message to her family who referred her to point 1 – breathe (it really is number 1 for a reason!).  She then texted her colleagues who also told her not to worry.

5)      Be thankful – the morning didn’t go well but there are still things to be grateful for such as the health app which sent another notification saying she had done 12 minutes of cardio.

Does this resonate with you? What are your tips for dealing with stressful situations? Share them in the comments below.

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