How Successful People Stay Calm

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance.

by Dr. Travis BradberryTalentSmart, President and 'Emotional Intelligence 2.0,' Coauthor/

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance."}}" data-beacon-parsed="true" class="bn-clickable" style="box-sizing: inherit; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); text-decoration: none; box-shadow: rgb(13, 190, 152) 0px -2px 0px inset;">TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

If you follow our"}}" data-beacon-parsed="true" class="bn-clickable" style="box-sizing: inherit; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); text-decoration: none; box-shadow: rgb(13, 190, 152) 0px -2px 0px inset;">newsletter, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as the"}}" data-beacon-parsed="true" class="bn-clickable" style="box-sizing: inherit; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); text-decoration: none; box-shadow: rgb(13, 190, 152) 0px -2px 0px inset;">Yale study, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.


Research from the University of California, Berkeley, reveals an upside to experiencing moderate levels of stress. But it also reinforces how important it is to keep stress under control. The study, led by post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby, found that the onset of stress entices the brain into growing new cells responsible for improved memory. However, this effect is only seen when stress is intermittent. As soon as the stress continues beyond a few moments into a prolonged state, it suppresses the brain’s ability to develop new cells.

“I think intermittent stressful events are probably what keeps the brain more alert, and you perform better when you are alert,” Kirby says. For animals, intermittent stress is the bulk of what they experience, in the form of physical threats in their immediate environment. Long ago, this was also the case for humans. As the human brain evolved and increased in complexity, we’ve developed the ability to worry and perseverate on events, which creates frequent experiences of prolonged stress.

The more time you spend worrying, the less time you’ll spend taking action that will calm you down.

Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance. Fortunately, though, unless a lion is chasing you, the bulk of your stress is subjective and under your control. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances. This lowers their stress levels regardless of what’s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.

1. They Appreciate What They Have

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.

2. They Avoid Asking “What If?” 

“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend focusing on taking action that will calm you down and keep your stress under control. Calm people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want—or need—to go.

3. They Stay Positive

Positive thoughts help make stress intermittent by focusing your brain’s attention onto something that is completely stress-free. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well, and your mood is good, this is relatively easy. When things are going poorly, and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, no matter how small. If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the previous day or even the previous week. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to an exciting event that you can focus your attention on. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative.

4. They Disconnect

Given the importance of keeping stress intermittent, it’s easy to see how taking regular time off the grid can help keep your stress under control. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and even—gulp!—turning off your phone gives your body a break from a constant source of stress. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels.

Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you thinking (read: stressing) about work can drop onto your phone at any moment. If detaching yourself from work-related communication on weekday evenings is too big a challenge, then how about the weekend? Choose blocks of time where you cut the cord and go offline. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing these breaks are and how they reduce stress by putting a mental recharge into your weekly schedule. If you’re worried about the negative repercussions of taking this step, first try doing it at times when you’re unlikely to be contacted—maybe Sunday morning. As you grow more comfortable with it, and as your coworkers begin to accept the time you spend offline, gradually expand the amount of time you spend away from technology.


5. They Limit Their Caffeine Intake

Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyperaroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. The stress that caffeine creates is far from intermittent, as its long half-life ensures that it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body.

The easiest way to make stress intermittent lies in something that you have to do everyday anyway: breathing.

6. They Sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Stressful projects often make you feel as if you have no time to sleep, but taking the time to get a decent night’s sleep is often the one thing keeping you from getting things under control.

7. They Squash Negative Self-Talk

A big step in managing stress involves stopping negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts. When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking. Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity.

You can bet that your statements aren’t true any time you use words like “never,” “worst,” “ever,” etc. If your statements still look like facts once they’re on paper, take them to a friend or colleague you trust and see if he or she agrees with you. Then the truth will surely come out. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Identifying and labeling your thoughts as thoughts by separating them from the facts will help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.

8. They Reframe Their Perspective

Stress and worry are fueled by our own skewed perception of events. It’s easy to think that unrealistic deadlines, unforgiving bosses, and out-of-control traffic are the reasons we’re so stressed all the time. You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. So before you spend too much time dwelling on something, take a minute to put the situation in perspective. If you aren’t sure when you need to do this, try looking for clues that your anxiety may not be proportional to the stressor. If you’re thinking in broad, sweeping statements such as “Everything is going wrong” or “Nothing will work out,” then you need to reframe the situation. A great way to correct this unproductive thought pattern is to list the specific things that actually are going wrong or not working out. Most likely you will come up with just some things—not everything—and the scope of these stressors will look much more limited than it initially appeared.

9. They Breathe

The easiest way to make stress intermittent lies in something that you have to do everyday anyway: breathing. The practice of being in the moment with your breathing will begin to train your brain to focus solely on the task at hand and get the stress monkey off your back. When you’re feeling stressed, take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing. Close the door, put away all other distractions, and just sit in a chair and breathe. The goal is to spend the entire time focused only on your breathing, which will prevent your mind from wandering. Think about how it feels to breathe in and out. This sounds simple, but it’s hard to do for more than a minute or two. It’s all right if you get sidetracked by another thought; this is sure to happen at the beginning, and you just need to bring your focus back to your breathing. If staying focused on your breathing proves to be a real struggle, try counting each breath in and out until you get to 20, and then start again from 1. Don’t worry if you lose count; you can always just start over.

This task may seem too easy or even a little silly, but you’ll be surprised by how calm you feel afterward and how much easier it is to let go of distracting thoughts that otherwise seem to have lodged permanently inside your brain.

10. They Use Their Support System

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To be calm and productive, you need to recognize your weaknesses and ask for help when you need it. This means tapping into your support system when a situation is challenging enough for you to feel overwhelmed. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as talking about your worries will provide an outlet for your anxiety and stress and supply you with a new perspective on the situation. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation. Asking for help will mitigate your stress and strengthen your relationships with those you rely upon. 

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Tiny blood vessel damage tied to depression among older adults

(Reuters Health) - Keeping tiny blood vessels healthy may be one way to ward off depression later in life, suggests a new analysis of existing research.

Damage to the microvascular system - often caused by high blood pressure or diabetes, and made worse by smoking - is tied to an increased risk of depression among people age 40 years and older, researchers found.

"Be aware that your hypertension and diabetes are an enemy to your microvascular circulation," said senior author Miranda Schram of Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands. "Try to treat them."

The body's very small blood vessels, or capillaries, "are responsible for taking the oxygen and nutrients to the tissues," she said. "You can imagine if something goes wrong, the tissue isn’t happy."

The brain, Schram noted, is "quite vulnerable to these microvascular changes, because the tissue in the brain is really demanding and requires a lot of oxygen to work properly."

Problems with these small blood vessels can also affect the eyes, the nerves, the skin and the kidneys.

To see if there is a link between depression and damage to capillaries, the researchers searched for existing studies of the two conditions that included people at least 40 years old.

Altogether, they had data on 43,600 individuals, including 9,203 with depression.

Depending on how microvascular dysfunction was measured in the various studies, it increased the risk of depression by up to 58 percent, according to a report in JAMA Psychiatry.

For example, when signs of injury to small vessels was detected in the blood, the risk of depression was 58 percent higher than when blood tests didn't suggest damage.

People had a 30 percent higher risk of depression when magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed very small strokes in the brain caused by failure of these tiny vessels.

The theory is that this blood vessel damage disrupts communication in areas of the brain important for mood control, said Schram.

"You can imagine that this would lead to a depressed mood," she added.

Dr. Bret Rutherford of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry in New York City told Reuters Health that while the new study is strong, it can't prove microvascular dysfunction causes depression later in life.

"The relationships between healthy brain aging and neuropsychiatric disorders goes in both directions and is sort of complicated," said Rutherford, who was not involved in the new study.

For example, it could be that microvascular damage causes depression. Or, it could be that depression leads to unhealthy blood vessels.

Rutherford said researchers first linked depression to blood vessel damage in the 1990s, but advances in treatment have been limited and mainly focused on preventing poor vascular health.

"We certainly have reason to be very rigorous in our treatment of cardiovascular aging to promote healthy brain aging and to prevent these types of problems later on," he said.

Also, he said, it's important to treat mental health issues early in life to prevent cardiovascular issues later on.

SOURCE: JAMA Psychiatry, online May 31, 2017.

Awful factors hindering PH children’s growth

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz /

Filipino children have seen far worse childhood than their counterparts in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

A global report by child rights advocate Save the Children brought forth this disturbing news.

Severe malnutrition, lack of basic health care, and early pregnancy have been “robbing” Filipino children of their “happy” childhood, according to Save the Children country director Ned Olney.

This was cited in the report titled “Stolen Childhoods,” which was launched last Thursday, June 1, coinciding with the celebration of the International Children’s Day.

Olney explained that an index of events that impact children’s ability to have a safe and happy childhood was used to rank 172 countries “from best to worst places to grow up.”

The Philippines ranked 96th, which was worse than Vietnam (92nd), Thailand (84th), Malaysia (65th), and Singapore (33rd).

He cited that the eight indicators that “end” children’s childhood are child mortality under five years old, growth stunting, out-of-school children, child labor, early marriage, adolescent pregnancy, displacement by conflict, and child homicide.

“The Philippines’ ranking is a concern because when you look at some of the other countries that are ranked ahead of the Philippines, these are countries that are (used to be) a lot poorer. It is left behind by ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Thirty years ago these countries were far poorer than the Philippines but their rank improved in terms of childhood. They have improved much faster than the Philippines,” Olney pointed out.

“I was very surprised to see the Philippines behind Tajikistan, Bhutan, Turkmenistan and Moldova. These countries have very difficult environment for children and yet Philippines ranked below these countries,” he added.

The greatest concern for the Philippines is in three indices, which include the under-five mortality rate. “This is quite high for a middle income country,” he said.

He noted that child mortality is “very high” with more than 50 percent of newborn mortality happening in the first 28 days. “This is what is keeping the Philippines behind,” he added.

According to Olney, the most significant driver of the country’s “poor” ranking is the high levels of growth stunting and undernutrition, affecting about 30 percent of Filipino children across the country.

Based on its 2015 data, the rate of malnutrition went up by about 10 percent, bringing the latest data to 33 percent. “That is the largest increase in childhood stunting in the last quarter century. Something is going wrong,” he said.

About 50 percent or one out of two children is stunted in the Philippines, he pointed out. “That is worse than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is 30 percent,” he added.

“Disappointing statistics from the Philippines underscore the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, when they are most susceptible to stunting and most in need of good nutrition. This is an area that must be dramatically improved if the Philippines is to move up the rankings , and most importantly, (to) ensure every child across the country can benefit from a safe and happy childhood,” Olney said.

Children who are stunted in the first two years are also more likely to repeat grades, drop out of school and delay school entry.

“Severe malnutrition is increasing,” Olney said adding that cases of malnutrition are more prevalent in urban Metro Manila, which is ironic because there is available food almost everywhere “and yet children are dying everyday” due to malnutrition.

Save the Children’s “Cost of Hunger: Philippines” study in 2016 put the cost of undernutrition or stunting to the Philippine economy at P320 billion annually–equivalent to almost 3 percent of the country’s GDP.

The second largest driver of the poor ranking is adolescent pregnancy. “What is the direction of the Philippines as regards adolescent birth rate? Ten years ago, the rate was lower. More adolescent girls are giving birth than 10 years ago,” he said.

Likewise, about 11 percent of Filipinos’ five to 14 years old are already working and almost 10 percent of adolescents aged 15 to 19 are married.

These indicators have put the Philippines in a poor standing.

“It all comes down to poverty. The drivers go really high when you are poor and goes really low when you are wealthy,” he said.

Handwashing: Cool water as effective as hot for removing germs

Study indicates that washing for 10 seconds eliminates harmful bacteria


We all know that washing our hands can keep us from spreading germs and getting sick. But a new Rutgers-New Brunswick study found that cool water removes the same amount of harmful bacteria as hot.

"People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands but as far as effectiveness, this study shows us that the temperature of the water used didn't matter," said Donald Schaffner, distinguished professor and extension specialist in food science.

In the Rutgers study, published in the June issue of the Journal of Food Protection, high levels of a harmless bacteria were put on the hands of 21 participants multiple times over a six-month period before they were asked to wash their hands in 60-degree, 79-degree or 100-degree water temperatures using 0.5 ml, 1 ml or 2 ml volumes of soap.

"This study may have significant implications towards water energy, since using cold water saves more energy than warm or hot water," said Schaffner. "Also we learned even washing for 10 seconds significantly removed bacteria from the hands."

While the study indicates that there is no difference between the amount of soap used, more work needs to be done to understand exactly how much and what type of soap is needed to remove harmful microbes from hands, said co-author Jim Arbogast, vice president of Hygiene Sciences and Public Health Advancements for GOJO. "This is important because the biggest public health need is to increase handwashing or hand sanitizing by foodservice workers and the public before eating, preparing food and after using the restroom," Arbogast said.

These findings are significant, particularly to the restaurant and food industry, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues guidelines, every four years, to states. Those guidelines currently recommend that plumbing systems at food establishments and restaurants deliver water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit for handwashing.

Schaffner said the issue of water temperature has been debated for a number of years without enough science to back-up any recommendation to change the policy guidelines or provide proof that water temperature makes a difference in hand hygiene. Many states, in fact, interpret the FDA guidelines as a requirement that water temperature for handwashing must be 100 degrees, he said.

The FDA is scheduled to hold a conference in 2018 to discuss the existing code and any modifications that should be made and Schaffner would like to see the water temperature policy revised at that time.

"I think this study indicates that there should be a policy change," said Schaffner. "Instead of having a temperature requirement, the policy should only say that comfortable or warm water needs to be delivered. We are wasting energy to heat water to a level that is not necessary."

Story Source:

Materials provided by Rutgers University

I've learned that it's okay to be alone, even when I'm uncomfortable

Lauren Rearick/

This year I find myself spending an unexpected amount of time with someone new, a person I never fully knew until I was forced to be in a room with them – myself. For the first time in my life, I’m learning to embrace these moments of solitude and to be okay with being alone.

Whether spending time with the ones we love or crammed into cubicles with the ones we work with, we’re always surrounded by people. Even our smartphones prevent true isolation, with friends on social media remaining just a touch away. But what happens when you leave behind the office for a life of working at home, or your friends begin moving away to pursue their own new beginnings? As adults, we don’t always have the comforts of parents or roommates greeting us when we return home, and our days aren’t promised to be filled with the friendships that school afforded us as children.

Sometimes we’re forced to be alone, but that isolation doesn’t mean we have to shut down, hide away, or be afraid to do the things we enjoy.

It took me a while to learn that lesson. Following a series of serious life changes, I’m getting better at being alone, even when that solitude proves uncomfortable. 

After years of working for others, I made the transition to self-employment. For the first time in my life, I don’t have an office to report to. Instead, I work from home as a freelance writer, where I spend my days with my dog and my laptop. Initially, this change proved freeing, and I loved it,but then the loneliness began to creep in. There was no one with whom I could dissect last night’s television or explore new spots for lunch. Instead, I was absolutely alone and had no idea how to cope.

I wanted to work from coffee shops, explore unknown places in my hometown, and enjoy the freedom of setting my own hours. Unfortunately, the first time I tried to branch out and beat the loneliness, I felt completely terrified. I tried to set up a workspace at the local coffee shop, but the initial visit made me feel like I was back in a high school cafeteria. I felt like everyone was staring at me, wondering why I was alone and what I was doing. That fear proved even more menacing when I tried to find solace in my favorite places like Target and Dunkin’ Donuts. Everywhere felt off-limits to me.

Maybe it was my generalized anxiety disorder or the perpetual looming dread of what others thought, but I started to actively avoid going places alone.

Instead, I made excuses to work from home, or I would breeze through my trips into the outside world. On more than one occasion, I cried on my way home.

Though I was desperate to change my situation, loneliness continued to linger, and I felt incapable of altering my days. I wanted to be strong and independent, to enjoy my time with myself, by myself. I thought back to when I was younger and reveled in being by myself. I once prided myself on being single and claimed Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Woman” as my anthem.


I had forgotten how to be alone, and I was too scared to relearn. 

There wasn’t an a-ha moment, or a sudden inspiration that made me want to change. Instead, I grew tired of being afraid. I wanted to treat myself, to discover new things and to reward myself for being me – even on the days when I was anxious. Instead of shutting myself off and staying in, I realized I needed to afford myself the same kindness and love I so often show others.

At first, I started with short trips. Instead of claiming a coffee-house as my own for a full day, I went for just an hour. Rather than packing in a day of shopping, I went to one store and stayed as long as I wanted. If I only stayed a few minutes, that was okay. I took any trip as a victory.

As I looked around, I realized that I wasn’t the only person alone — and that, more than likely, no one was really paying attention to me.

Phil Payne Photography/Getty Images

There were, and still are, moments when I am fearful, and I wonder if people are staring at me, asking themselves why the curly-haired brunette is sitting all alone reading a magazine. When I start to feel uncomfortable, I take a deep breath and stay just a second longer. I try to take the pressure off myself, and let my heart and thoughts control the trip, deciding on a whim where I’ll go for the day, or what I’ll see. It’s in these difficult moments that I’ve learned more about myself than I ever did when surrounded by others. I discovered new places that have a killer iced coffee, purchased a makeup palette that has shades beyond my comfort zone, and found a quiet nook of the library where, even among others, I can be alone.


No one plans to be alone. I certainly didn’t. There are some days when I’m still lonely and I cry, but with each day that passes, I’m learning I can do things by myself. I may not always enjoy shopping for a purse alone, and some days I prefer to write from the comforts of my bedroom, not the bustle of a coffee shop. But when I do venture outside to see the world, I know that I can do it on my own.




Life-saving device for all hotels pushed

The executive members of the Friends of the Filipino/American Community (FFAC), a not for profit political action committee (PAC) of the greater Northern California met with Philippine Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. and his staff at the San Francisco office on May 11 to discuss and advocate for Hotels in the Philippines to have in their establishment a life saving device known as a "Defibrillator". Defibrillation is a treatment for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias, specifically ventricular fibrillation (VF) and non-perfusing ventricular tachycardia (VT). A defibrillator delivers a dose of electric current (often called a countershock) to the heart. In attendance for FFAC was former Union Vice Mayor Jim Navarro, Atty. Ben Reyes, Atty. Cesar Fumar, Evelyn Centeno and Rose Pavone.

Each year, many Filipinos die from sudden cardiac arrest during their stay at the Philippine hotels because the device was not available during the cardiac event that could otherwise have saved their lives.

The key to survival is timely initiation of a "chain of survival", including CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Because of recent technological advances, a portable lifesaving device, called an "automated external defibrillator" or "AED" has recently become an important medical tool. Trained non-medical personnel can use these simplified electronic machines to treat a person in cardiac arrest. The AED device guides the user through the process by audible or visual prompts without requiring any discretion or judgment.

FFAC will work closely with the Consulate General Office (CGO), the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Health (DOH) to bring this very important issue to the forefront and advocate to become a law that having an AED will be a standard of operation (SOP) in all the hotel industries in the Philippines.

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