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9 Tips to Cope with Change and Stress

Written by Paul Wolf

"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."

When you're stressed about the kids , your spouse or your health, it can be difficult to focus.  Compartmentalization allows us to set the world aside and pay attention to the business at hand.

Bob Haber dreaded his upcoming project, helping to produce a series of educational films about the horrors of drunk driving. He dreaded starting this job because his own brother was killed in a traffic accident.

Haber knew he would have to re-enact grisly car crashes and hospital emergency-room scenes that would make his brother's death vividly present again. "I had to tell myself," he says," 'I'm a professional. I can control my emotions and do what needs to be done.' "

stephen covey video Watch This Video! Best-selling author Stephen Covey, who wrote "7 Habits of Highly Success People", says we should stay conscious of what's really important.

This is compartmentalizing, simply focusing on the business at hand. Here are Success Television's nine ways to do just that.

1. Separate the personal from the professional.

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This is taking a page out of Haber's book. Don't think of your sense of focus as a way of repressing anything. You're just keeping your emotions in check. Whether it is your remarkable inner strength or the need for a paycheck that keeps you moving, you have the ability to consciously flip the switch from one mode of operating to another.

2. Remember your option to act professionally off the job.
Whether you're defensive at a parent-teacher conference, infuriated with a relative or annoyed with a telemarketer, you can act professionally on your off hours as well as at work. Dispatch the problem without becoming overwrought. It really is a choice.

3. Take special interest in things bigger than yourself.
Working on the drunk-driving series, eventually viewed by impressionable teens, Haber felt a sense of community purpose. "I stayed focused because I thought the piece would save lives," he says.

4. Let the calendar be your guide.
Attorney Marty Sherman would travel 400 miles to take care of his aging parents . Then he'd come home and give his wife his full attention. "I thought wherever I was physically is where I should be mentally."

5. Don't demand closure in everything.
"Most things are always unresolved," says marriage and family therapist Ellen Hammerle. "When you accept that, you take the pressure off and your mind becomes clear."

6. Embrace the soap opera of life.
There are many plots going at once. Our finances are finally in order, but Dad's in the hospital, and Johnny keeps getting suspended from school. Ironically, when you recognize this multifaceted drama, you can enjoy the moment more. After all, there is hope to be found in tomorrow's episode.

7. Defer (emotional) gratification.
You can cry over a hot-fudge sundae after work. But for now, it's all business. Make a deal with yourself. Focus now. Go to pieces later. You might find yourself more together than you had any reason to expect.

8. Let your normal routines be your anchor.
If a problem is plaguing you and bleeding into all aspects of your life, it's tempting to drop the three-mile run, the after-dinner game with the kids, or whatever you customarily do. But by sticking with the familiar pattern of the day, you keep your mind steady and your perspective balanced.

9. Be a proud surfer.
In Wherever You Go There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn makes much of a poster depicting a robed yogi on a surfboard. The caption? "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf." Focusing is easy during the quiet patches. It's tough while negotiating the Big One. There is no point obsessing about all of your past and future spills.