#1: Change expectations. One reason people get stressed in traffic is that their expectation for the amount of traffic they’re expecting is often different than the reality of the volume of traffic. By approaching the driving time with an open mind and without expectations for the way things “should be,” people are less likely to get stressed.
#2: “Be” in the traffic. If you’re stuck in traffic, accept that this is where you are right now. And not only are you “in” the traffic, you’re part of the traffic! You’re in a community of people who are all stuck in this same situation, all wanting to get to where they’re going.
#3: Notice negative thinking. Negative thinking can amplify stress. If you notice negative thoughts about being in traffic, see if you can focus on something positive about the situation instead, like being grateful for having a car, or having a cell phone to let someone know you’re running late.
Managing your mindset can go a long way to reducing stress levels. Remember, you can’t change external events—you can only change your response to them.
As the old saying goes, you have to take time out from chopping the tree to sharpen the axe. Since your mind is one of your main tools, it’s vital to keep it sharp. By pausing to take a mindfulness break throughout the day, you’re doing the axe-sharpening work.
Here are three tips to help support a mindfulness break:
1-Breathe mindfully for a few minutes. Bring all your attention to your breath as it moves in and out of your body. You may want to notice the coolness of the air as you breathe in and its warmth as you breath out—or you may want to notice your chest rising and falling. Anytime your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. Alternatively, count with each breath until you reach 40. (Or 50, or 60 …)
2-Listen mindfully for a few minutes. Sit in a comfortable position and gently lower your eyelids. Notice the sounds you hear. Try not to judge the sounds with thoughts of liking or not liking. Simply listen. As thoughts enter your mind, see if you can release them and bring your attention back to what you hear.
3-Hang a reminder in your office space. It can be challenging to remember to pause for your break. Hang a picture of something from nature or anything that reminds you to take a moment and pause. You could even schedule your breaks into your calendar.
By doing this axe-sharpening work, you’re clearing your mind and improving your focus for the tasks that lie ahead. Mindfulness breaks are available to you most anywhere and anytime. Taking a break just takes intention—and remembering!
While sales can be a stressful profession, it doesn’t have to be. Here are five ways to de-stress in the new year:
1. Get to the appointment early. Park your car and take time to focus on your breath to help quiet your mind, listen to a motivational recording, or engage in any other practice that will help center you before you meet with your prospect.
2. Get a clear picture of the time with the prospect: Imagine the sales call as you’d like it to go. Imagine asking your clients questions about their needs, and listening closely to their responses. Imaging being totally “present” in your time with your client, rather than lost in fears about the past, or anxieties about the future. Imagine explaining the features and benefits of your product as they relate to your clients’ needs. Imagine a partnership forming between you and your client, as you take a consultative role. Imagine the handshake at the end of your time together and a promise for business to come.
3. One calming practice is to use a smooth stone for “grounding.” Prior to the appointment, hold the stone, and imagine the qualities of strength and steadiness, like a mountain. If a sales rep finds anxieties arising on the sales call, simply reaching into a pocket and touching the stone can act as a tangible reminder to remain centered and steadfast, just like the mountain. (Stone meditations can be found in the book “Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind,” as can walking meditations, as described below.)
4. Do a walking meditation around your client’s building before you go in. Walk slowly, bringing all your attention to the soles of your feet as they touch the ground. Whenever your mind wanders to fears about the past or worries about the future, gently bring your awareness back to the soles of your feet, even if it’s as often as every few seconds. This practice will help keep your awareness in the present moment.
5. Use affirmations, or positive statements repeated silently to yourself as if they are already happening. Repeating them often and putting them in positive terms are important. Examples are: “I remain calm and centered when I meet with my client.” “I am able to keep my mind focused on the present moment.”
De-stressing doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as remembering to pause and redirect your attention.
Stressed at work? Keep in mind that it’s often one’s response to a situation that causes stress, rather than the situation itself. For instance, if your boss tells you that you need to have a private meeting, thoughts might cycle through your mind, such as, “Did I do something wrong? Am I going to get laid-off?” Or if a co-worker constantly chats on the phone and you’re having trouble concentrating, you might add to your stress by focusing on thoughts such as, “I can’t stand the way she talks on the phone all the time. She’s the worst office-mate I’ve ever had!”
Consider interrupting the cycle of thoughts that can amplify your stress. This doesn’t mean you should deny the way you’re feeling; however, it means that by shifting your attention to something else, it can reduce your stress.
Here’s one simple—and effective—way to shift your attention:
Bring all your attention to the soles of your feet. Yup, that’s all you need to do! Here’s how this works: Instead of focusing on negative thoughts that can cycle through the mind, shift your attention to the soles of your feet to bring your focus to the here and now. You can do this sitting in a chair—or you can take a short walk to the coffee machine, down the hallway, or outside. If you’re walking, notice the feeling of each foot as it connects with the ground. Each time your attention wanders (which might be every second or two) gently bring your awareness back to your feet. This is a practice you can do most anywhere, anytime—all it takes is remembering!