Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 29th 2015 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 29, 2015
In late 1939 after the outbreak of World War II,
the British government designed a number of
morale-boosting posters preempting the eventual
mass bombings of the United Kingdom. One such
poster read, "Keep Calm and Carry On," and though
it was not widely distributed during the war, the
slogan has become so popular today that it has
inspired innumerable imitations and parodies.
There is a reason this message remains timeless:
most of us deal with daily challenges and adversity
of some kind in work and in life. But as James Allen
said once, "The more tranquil a man becomes, the
greater is his success, his influence, his power for
good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels
of wisdom." This, unfortunately, is easier said than
done. To survive and thrive, we need to find ways to
deal with pressure and uncertainty. There are many
studies out there that show the deep connection
between staying calm and productivity.
Here are some tips:
1. Plan ahead
We don t always know what s going to walk through
our door, but we probably have a pretty good idea of
the general types of pressure we may face on a daily
basis. Decide in advance on a few possibilities that
could occur and how you will handle them. A simple
formula such as, "If X happens, I ll do Y," can make
all the difference.
2. Focus on one thing at a time
For many people, multitasking typically leads to
chaos. Try to choose one task, see it through and
head on to the next task that needs to be done.
3. Be flexible
No matter how carefully we plan, there s always a
chance that a situation will pop up that takes prece-
dence over everything we ve planned. When this hap-
pens, I take a moment to regroup and prepare to
methodically deal with the new issue.
4. Don't sweat the small stuff
Not all tasks are equally important. Some of them
can remain undone for later with no major conse-
quences. Setting priorities helps me to maintain a
sense of control.
5. Count to ten
When you feel like I am getting bombarded from
every angle, why not take a short break and then look
at the situation with a fresh pair of eyes? Just taking
those few seconds to count to ten may give you the
distance you need for a new perspective. It may even
make you realise, for instance, that the problem you
are attacking isn t the primary issue after all.
6. Control your breathing
Whenever we are anxious, we tend to take quick,
shallow breaths. This is called hyperventilating, and
it can make us feel dizzy, light-headed, and panicky.
It can also interfere with our judgment. If you catch
yourself hyperventilating, try inhaling a deep breath
through your nose, holding it a second, and releasing
it from your mouth. Repeat this exercise until you
feel calmer. This is a form of meditation.
7. Avoid a doom-and-gloom attitude
Often we anticipate the worst possible---and often
ridiculous---conclusion to a situation. For instance,
"If I don t get those numbers for the report by the
end of the day, I ll lose my job and starve to death
in the streets." Instead of using our imagination to
scare yourself, use it to solve the problem.
8. Trust yourself
There are sometimes good reasons to change our
plans, such as a new set of circumstances arising or
receiving new information about a situation. In the
absence of a compelling reason, however, stick to the
Calmness of mind a wise way
plans we have outlined for ourselves. Random changes
will only confuse us and put us behind schedule.
9. Focus on the positive
Scolding ourselves for all we didn t get done does
not help. Instead we are far better off being grateful
for all that we did do. The more we practise looking
on the bright side of things, the less frightening and
grim a stressful situation seems.
10. Delegate and seek support
No one succeeds in a silo! This is especially true
when the pressure is on. Don t be afraid to reach out
to others for help when needed, and offer to assist
them in return. There is comfort in not being alone
in times of stress. (www.fastcompany.com)
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