There's always more to learn

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Q: I lose focus on my goals when I'm stressed. How can I manage stress better and stay on track?

A: Stress has a way of forcing our minds into "tunnel vision" and "survival mode" which is why it's so darn hard to stay focused on what we WANT to do when we are overwhelmed by things that we feel we HAVE to do.


Taking the time when things are calm to differentiate between the HAVE TO'S and the WANT TO'S is an important step in being able to stay on track down the road when things get crazy.


This can also be thought of as creating a "priorities list".


One of the big reasons we get stressed out is because there is a conflict between our priorities and we don't have a strategy for dealing with the confusion that causes our brain. Thinking through our priorities ahead of time and then brainstorming a series of "what if's" can go a long way in keeping our brain calm and our habits on track in those times when we feel our control slipping away.


In the moment, practice mindfulness and self-care. Mindfulness - paying attention to this moment, on purpose, without judgment - sends a message to your brain that "you're okay, you're safe".


Mindfulness can be as simple as paying attention to your breath as it fills your body and then slowly and completely empties.


Mindfulness can be tuning in to one of your senses; noticing the levels of sound that surround you at that moment, naming an object in view of each color of the rainbow, or turning your mind to the feeling of your toes in your shoes.


These simple tricks distract your mind and bring you back into the now, reminding you that there is only so much you can control and your job is to do the next right thing.