When you’re on the verge of breaking

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I finally get why there is such as thing as “spring break.” I just wish mine came earlier. These past two weeks have been brutal: juggling competing, hard external deadlines with million dollar price tags attached to them; dealing with challenges in taming down the “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario; working long, fast-paced hours at the office; and managing the incredibly high expectations that have come with it all. What do you do when you are on the verge of mentally and physically falling apart?

Here’s one thing to remember: You will get through this.

That is what I’ve had to tell myself these past few weeks, and I’ll continue to tell myself this during the home run stretch of next week when come Friday, the tensions from this past month will be behind me.

We all have our little ways of getting through high-pressure times. Here’s what has worked for me these past few weeks:

  • Keep a well-balanced diet but allow yourself some comfort: For the past eight weeks, I have been working with a nutritionist who has put me on a low-carb diet in an effort to drop some unwanted weight. It’s been a good start and for the most part, I am happy with my progress, but I won’t lie when I tell you being on this diet has been both a blessing and a curse during this stressful time at work. The blessing has been that overall, I’ve been feeling great: my clothes fit again and are even becoming loose; I’m feeling more confident, and my mood has generally been more positive than before. The curse has been during times of high stress, all I want to do is sit down and eat a huge bowl of pasta or rice—the very thing I should not do if I want to keep up my diet progress. But I also learned something else, and I have no doubt my nutritionist will disagree: when you near that breaking point, as I did last night, sometimes you have to allow yourself to be human and allow yourself a cheat meal.  Here I am, the day after, and I still have no regrets: last night’s meal of basmati rice and paneer makhani was just what I needed to take the edge off. At 10AM yesterday I knew I was going to cheat on my diet come dinnertime, the question was how I was going to do it. Open a bottle of wine or indulge in some high-carb food. I chose the latter and I am convinced that if I hadn’t, I’d probably be pretty miserable today. Instead, I feel great and am even more committed to staying on track with my diet for the next several weeks now that I have had my “fix.”
  • Keep a warm beverage by you during times of stress. My choice is green tea, specifically Tazo’s Zen Green Tea. The benefits of green tea have already been well documented, but for me, it goes beyond physical. This week it was all about being in a balanced mental state of being. Having that warm cup of tea at my computer while on a very tight deadline with an anxious boss on my phone every other minute helped me concentrate. It prevented any panic from arising and put me in a very calm, measured state of mind, which helped me get done what needed to be done while maintaining a very high standard rate of quality in the work I produced.
  • Create a calm/creative/stimulating work space. This week, I needed a calm work space, so I cleared off my desk as best I could (knowing it’d be cluttered come Friday), filled a vase with fresh flowers and found a calming playlist on Spotify so I could block out the chaos of the world around me and concentrate on my deadlines. It worked so well that others started commenting on the aesthetics of my work space this week.
  • Take a lunch break. This is not always possible, trust me I know. I pretty much wake up each Monday morning realizing I will not get a lunch break with standing weekly meetings on my calendar from 10AM-2PM. But every other day of the week, if no lunch meetings are scheduled, I go for a walk. And it truly does make all the difference in my world.

So when the world around you is coming to head, do realize you can get through this by taking very small, but effective steps in managing your stress. You are a pro, you’re good at what you do, and you can do this. Trust me. But most importantly, trust yourself.

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