When the little things go wrong, how do you react? If you’re more of a flipper-outer and less of a shrugger-offer, there’s hope. With a little practice, you can learn to be more even-keeled — which is a good thing, because being a bit calmer is better for your career and your health.
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It’s all about how you react to life’s little hassles.
“The changes are small — a 10 to 15 percent increase in cortisol levels in response to typical daily annoyances, as opposed to a 100 percent or more increase during very stressful events,” says Nancy Nicolson, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at Maastricht University, in an interview with Real Simple. “These small fluctuations “happen more frequently and can have a cumulative effect,” says Nicolson.
That’s a problem, because chronically stressed people report that they are less productive, according to the American Psychological Association. It’s also bad for your immune system, which leaves you vulnerable to catching the office cold more frequently than your easier-going colleagues, and makes it harder to go to work.
So how can you deal with things better?
1. Don’t argue — ask questions.
We’ve all been in that spot: you know you’re right, but unfortunately, your colleague is equally sure that he knows best. So what do you do?
Instead of continuing to make your case, ask questions. You might find common ground that you didn’t know you had, and in the meantime, you’re working together to communicate, instead of continuing to draw battle lines.
2. Be early.
What’s more stressful than a change in plans? A change in plans that hits after you’re already running late. Build a few extra minutes into your routine, and you won’t find yourself playing catch-up all day long.
3. Take a deep breath.
Plus, pausing to breathe before you react reduces the chance that you’ll say something you’ll regret. And that’s a great stress-reducer, right there.
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