It is that time of year when we all feel rushed and harried.  There are parties to attend, presents to buy and – there’s work to get done.   It is no wonder that many of us just want to “stop the ride”. Of course none of us can stop the ride but taking a few simple steps can make it easier and even fun.

A long, long time ago, my then 13-year old brother-in-law came for a visit.  We took him to Crystal Beach – a summer hot spot and amusement park on Lake Erie that closed in 1989. The roller coaster in the park was called The Comet and it was and apparently still is considered one of the best coasters ever – it’s now in a Six Flags park. My brother-in-law wanted to ride the Comet.  It was his first – and last – coaster ride! What I remember most is him saying as we approached the crest of the first hill, “tell them to stop, I want to get off!”

There are times, I feel like that too. When I am feeling crushed by the volume of emails, stretched by mounting deadlines and other responsibilities. Unfortunately, like the coaster, the world doesn’t stop for my benefit.  So I have learned to cope with a few simple tools.  I share them here in the hopes that one or two may be helpful to others.

  1. Breathe. Yes, one of the first things a stressed out body needs to do is take a deep breath.  One or two of these will help clear your head and get you focused on the task and not the pile of “to dos”. (I don’t think my brother-in law did that for the entire ride.)
  2. Know that you are not alone. I challenge you to find someone in business today who isn’t stressed. Also, know that the people around you are too busy with their own stress to care about yours. Reaching out for help or sharing the load with someone else can really ease the strain.”. (The bruises on my arm have faded but I was there when my brother-in law reached for me.)
  3. Write it down.Taking a few minutes to write your to do list and then triage the items can help bring perspective and a bit more calm. ”. (Ok, there was no way to do that on the coaster but we did take it one hill at a time)
  4. Reward yourself. Give yourself some short term goals to achieve like finishing an email or a report and then give yourself a treat take a walk, call a friend or grab a snack – before taking on the next item on your list. ”. ( After each hill, I encourage my brother-in law to breathe and assured him we just had “one more hill” – I lied but it helped.)
  5. Be grateful you are needed.As tough as it may be to deliver your deadlines, see your friends and be with your family, being needed fulfills a basic human desire. Revel in it, the alternative is loneliness. ”. (My brother-in law still loves me and we laugh about the ride we had, it was a bonding experience.)