Q: I hate how easily flustered I get. How can I become one of those people who thrives under pressure?
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A: I know the people you’re talking about. Nothing seems to get to them. They never have a mini-freak-out or break down crying because some seemingly insurmountable obstacle is in their way. How do they do it?
Before I get to some tips, know that everyone’s body responds to stress a little differently. Some are quick to tears, some aren’t. Don’t punish yourself if your body finds an outlet for all the stimuli it’s taking in.
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Stress takes many different forms: work, school, parents, friends, etc. So here’s some advice that I believe is universal: stay in the moment. Be present, wherever you are. Don’t get caught up in what’s coming in five minutes, a week, or a year. That’s when matters begin to get overwhelming. Because you can’t deal with what’s in front of you if you’re already telling yourself about all the ways it can go wrong.
For example, if you’re stressing over an upcoming test and start to feel that hysteria rising, break your preparation into manageable chunks. If you’re re-reading the chapter, do that, and concentrate on it fully. When you’re done, you can start thinking about making flashcards. (And don’t forget: sleep and sustenance are also un-skippable test prep stages!)
This tactic takes practice, so work on it! And though I can’t promise you’ll always be cool as a cucumber, you’ll learn to process the more challenging parts of life more efficiently.
If you need advice, ask your question in the comments, and it may be featured in an upcoming column.