Daily Resolutions Tip of the Day: Notice how you react in stressful situations. It’s hard to be aware of it in the heat of the moment (rather than go into all-out stress-case mode), but, we promise it will help you handle the situation better—and with a little less tension—next time.
The next time you’re sitting at your desk, freaking out about a deadline or a mistake you made that your boss noticed, popular yogi Dave Romanelli wants to help (and the answer does not come in the form of eight yoga poses at your desk).
What’s important about learning how to deal with stressful situations, he says, is not only to have helpful tools for the heat of the moment (and he has some great ones). It’s also about learning how you react in those moments, so it’s not as chaotic the next time.
Here are his three tips for dealing with a possible workplace meltdown:
1. Try this exercise when you’re not stressed. Hold your arms out to the sides of your body and form a “T” and hold it for three minutes, he says. As the burning in your shoulders increases, compare it to how you feel when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation (a last-minute request from your boss or a colleague who might be giving you ‘tude…), breathe deeply, slow the mental process, and make a choice to relax in the situation, Romanelli explains.
It might seem counterintuitive to deal with stress by doing this exercise when you’re not stressed, but it will help you learn how to react under pressure.
“It teaches you how to stimulate heightened emotion, and see how you react when the volume is turned up on your emotion and sensation,” Romanelli says.
“The thing is, for most people, we’re just not aware of who we become in those moments.” And Romanelli says that’s one of the key factors in learning how to deal with tough stress-filled situations.
2. Take one minute for love. The next time you feel the pressure of that imminent 5:00 p.m. deadline? Write an email to your BFF. Romanelli says that taking a minute to do show someone love can have amazing benefits as far as your stress level.
“Dedicate one whole minute to love,” Romanelli says. You can give someone a hug, take a minute to call someone and tell them you love them, or write a nice email.
“Touch releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol,” writes Romanelli. If hugging your coworker isn’t exactly in the cards, writing or giving someone a call can be just as powerful.
“Think loving beautiful thoughts and interrupt the chaos. It sounds so mundane, but it is such a big ask [in that moment],” he says.
3. Slow down. By repeating this mantra, “Slow soothes, slow softens, and slow heals,” you’ll feel a sense of calm and a gentle reminder downshift your energy.
“Repeat that when you’re in a stressful moment. Some things in life are not meant to go fast, like the creative process. Breathing gives you the natural ability to take it down a notch,” Romanelli says.
“Sometimes you just have to stop. You can’t always be going 24/7 all day long.” —Molly Gallagher