Even the professionals who dole out advice on how to handle anxiety and worry aren't immune to daily pressures. The difference is, when these "stress-perts" encounter bumps in the road (piles of dirty clothes or an irate boss or kids repeatedly asking what's for dinner) they know how to tackle the problem while staying calm. Try their tricks and you too can keep your cool.
By Erica Lumiere
"It's difficult for me to say no when someone asks for help on yet another project."
—Debra Mandel, Ph.D., a psychologist in Encino, California, author of Your Boss Is Not Your Mother: Eight Steps to Eliminating Office Drama and Creating Positive Relationships at Work (Agate), and the mother of a 17-year-old daughter.
Debra's Stress-Solving Action Plan:
Learn to take a pass. When someone asks me to meet an impossible deadline or take on more work than I can handle, I've learned to say, "I'm flattered you think I can tackle this task, but unfortunately I have too much on my plate to do a good job for you." If it's something you would like to get to in the future (a work project, for instance), see if it can be done at a later date.
Ask for help. I was so overwhelmed with paperwork one night that I begged several co-workers to help me sort through the mess. I ordered in food, turned on music and made it feel like a party. The time we spent organizing and filing papers just flew by, and when we were done I promised to return the favor if any of them ever needed my help.
Let things go. When I start to stress about a project or situation I try to pause and ask myself if my problem is really going to matter in a week, month or year from now. If it won't, then I tell myself to relax and move on. Not everything always has to be perfect, especially when "good enough" will do.
Don't be a drama queen. When people work closely in a high-pressure setting it can get tense. Bosses can have outbursts, co-workers might point fingers and feelings may get hurt. Don't take criticism personally. You can't please everyone, so why stress about it in the first place?