By Jim Wong, CPA | February 14, 2014

Whether you are looking for that perfect career ‘next step’, or attempting to fill a crucial role within your organization — keeping your emotions in check is key.

We all know that stress can kill. In fact, studies have show that elevated stress levels can adversely affect your immune system, and can also have a cumulative impact on your mental health.

Even ten years after the fact, people who’ve experienced a lot of stress tend to have much higher levels of anxiety and depression than the general population.

It’s true that from an evolutionary perspective, stress was highly beneficial. But we’re not out in the grasslands being chased by lions any longer. But according to Travis Bradberry, contributor and author of the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, those metaphorical lions are still with us.

“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.”

Not surprisingly, most top performers — a staggering 90 percent — are exceptionally skilled at keeping their emotions in check, and remain cool, calm and collected during times of high stress. As Bradberry points out, their well-honed coping strategies “ … lowers their stress levels regardless of what‘s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.”

In his studies on emotional intelligence, Bradberry has uncovered myriad coping strategies highly successful people use to remain calm. Here are our top five:

They Appreciate What They Have
“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.”

They Avoid Asking “What If?”
“What ifs” and the worry that comes with them can seriously derail your thinking, and send your stress levels skyrocketing. Instead, focus on taking action.

They Stay Positive
Positive thoughts turn your brain away from the negative and onto the positive. No matter how bad things are, as Bradberry says, “think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, no matter how small.”

They Disconnect
Give yourself a break from being constantly connected and available. Instant stress relief.

They Sleep
We can’t say enough about sleep. Being sleep-deprived alone increases stress hormone levels. Having your memory, attention span and self-control in tip-top shape reduces your chances of getting stressed out. Make sure your brain gets the rest it needs to recharge.

Also, remember to watch the negative self-talk, lean on your support systems, and make time for exercise in your life.

Staying calm in the work world is simply one more weapon to add to your arsenal of success strategies. As a bonus, you’ll remain happy and healthy on your climb to the top.

There are many steps you can take to help keep your emotions — and your stress levels — under control. What would you add?

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