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10 Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On

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At the heart of most of life’s stress is your attitude – your belief system. If you are stuck on the freeway and have an appointment in 20 minutes for which you will now be late, what do you say to yourself? Do you sit there and make statements such as, “I can’t be late! Who’s holding us up? I’ve got to get out of this lane!”

Yes, it’s inconvenient to be stuck, to be late, to have the boss pile work at the last minute, or to miss the bus. But what moves you from feeling like a victim to becoming an over-comer is taking control of your circumstances by giving yourself permission to be in the situation you’re in: to have your plans disrupted or to be given too much work or whatever it may be. That will put you back in control, and you’ll feel there is some hope.

It works. Here are 10 ways to keep calm and carry on:

1. Begin each day by asking God to help you prioritize those items that needs to be done first. Then do only those items you really have time for. If you feel you can accomplish five items during the day, do only four. Write them down and then check them off.

2. If you begin to feel pressured about completing your tasks, ask yourself these questions: Will completing this task matter three to five years from now? Must it be done now? If so, why? Could someone else do it? If not, why not?

3. Try to accomplish only one thing at a time. If you are going to the bathroom, don’t brush your teeth at the same time. If you are waiting for someone on the phone, don’t attempt to look through the mail or a magazine. When someone is talking to you, put down your newspaper, magazine, or work and give the person your full attention.

4. Play some soft background music at home or at the office to give a soothing atmosphere.

5. Attempt to plan your schedule so that you drive or commute when traffic is light. Drive in the slow lane of the highway or freeway. Try to reduce your tendency to drive faster than others or just as fast.

6. Don’t evaluate your life in terms of how much you have accomplished or how many material things you have acquired. Recall your past enjoyable experiences for a few minutes each day. Take time to daydream about pleasurable experiences as a child.

7. Begin your day 15 minutes early and do something you enjoy. If you tend to skip breakfast or eat standing up, sit down and take your time eating. Look around the house, or outside, and fix your interest upon something pleasant you have been overlooking, such as flowers in bloom or a beautiful painting.

8. This one will sound crazy, but get in the longest super market line to practice waiting without getting upset. Give yourself permission to be in a long line. Discover how you can make time pass pleasantly. Speculate upon the lives of those around you. Talk to them about positive things, not about how long the line is. Review pleasant memories.

9. As you play games or engage in sports, whether it be racquetball, skiing or cards, do it for enjoyment and not competition. Begin to look for the enjoyment of a good run, an outstanding rally and the good feelings that come with recreation that you have been overlooking.

10. Allow yourself more time than you need for your work. Schedule ahead of time and for longer intervals. If you usually take a half hour for a task, allow 45 minutes. You will see an increase in the quality of your work.

Dr. Gary Oliver has over 40 years experience in individual, premarital, marital and family counseling and for the past 20 years he has had an extensive nationwide teaching ministry.


What in your life makes you feel stressed out? How do you handle that stress?

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