Forbes listed my profession, event coordinator, as the 5th most stressful job of 2014. After finishing up our biggest event of the year this weekend, I can say that it’s not a cake walk. Long hours, physical labor, unexpected problems… all while trying to keep a positive facade. It’s definitely stressful. That’s life.
One thing that a lot of people complimented me on this weekend was my patience. When a problem occurs, or someone is yelling in my face, I don’t get angry or stressed. I take a deep breath and respond calmly. What else can I do? Getting upset doesn’t change the problem at hand. I’d rather respond with a clear head. Plus, people respond to those who are positive and calm much better than someone who is angry and about to fall apart.
That’s a compliment I hear a lot – whether it’s in my profession, during my performances, or in the way I live my life. I’m always calm and patient when a crisis happens. Am I ever stressed? Definitely. Those who know me well have seen me cry, freak out… or hide in my room for an entire day while I pull myself together. But overall, I try to stay calm.
How did I learn to stay calm? By having anxiety.
When I was about 15 years old, I had my first panic attack. It was awful. It comes out of nowhere… all of a sudden you get anxious and paranoid. Night was my trigger. I would get extremely paranoid and think that someone was going to break into my apartment (many years later a doctor would tell me I had PTSD). When I got scared, the walls would start closing in and anxiety built in my chest. My body tingled, I couldn’t breathe and I was convinced that I was dying. Physically, it feels like you’re having a heart attack.
My mom did everything in her power to convince me that I wasn’t dying. That teenagers don’t get heart attacks and I’m just freaking out… that I’m safe and protected… that I just need to go to sleep, everything will get better in the morning. I would get into bed with her and lay awake for hours… until my fatigue outweighed my anxiety and I was able to fall asleep. This continued until I found a way to cope – breathing.
You learn to count sheep when you’re a kid – a way to distract your mind. I don’t remember how I thought of it but one night during a panic attack, I just started counting. Eventually my mind got distracted and everything slowed down. I forgot about my fear and was able to fall asleep.
I started to use this tactic during other panic attacks. When I felt anxiety building in my chest, I started to count my breaths. Eventually, this tactic worked so well that I was able to prevent a panic attack from happening. I learned to recognize the symptoms and start calming my body down before it even happened.
While it has been years since my last panic attack, I still use this method every day. When I feel anxious about work, I take a step back and start to breathe. I close my eyes, take a walk, excuse myself from the situation… whatever will allow me to concentrate on breathing deeply. When I regain my composure, I solve the problem.
Next time you find yourself on the verge of losing your temper, take a step back. Breathe for a few seconds and ask yourself if it’s worth it. Then tackle the situation with a clear head. It won’t do anyone any good if you try to solve something upset or angry. You’re only going to stress everyone else out. No matter how crazy the situation, you always have time to take a deep breath and collect your thoughts.
Life is stressful… but you don’t have to be stressed. If someone is yelling at you, take a few deep breaths and respond calmly. Then let it go. Take a walk, grab a drink of water, vent to a good friend. Don’t let them insult you. Don’t let a small problem ruin your day. Don’t let mean people infect your potential for happiness.
When you approach stressful situations calmly, you have a greater chance of happiness. In a few days, you will look back on today’s problems and stressful situations and realize that they really weren’t worth worrying about.
Stay calm, count your sheep and be nice to everyone.