What I Learned by Being Stressed Out

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When I was in high school, I worked a retail job at a very busy and expensive store at a mall. To start, I worked mainly in the stock rook unpacking and folding clothing. Then I was promoted to a position on the sales floor. This meant that I would be dealing directly with customers who were often picky and sometimes very rude, and I would have more interaction with my department supervisor. While my new position came with a pay raise, I often found myself having a bad day and being stressed out.

One day, after I had been in sales for a little over two months, I experienced one of the most stressful days in my life. A sale was going on at the time, and my supervisor scheduled myself and four other salespeople two work the same shift so that everything would be covered. However, one of my coworkers never showed up that day, and two others, after getting yelled at by the supervisor for working slowly, quit their jobs in the spot. So, for the last half of the shift, I and one other person were in charge of our whole department in the middle of a sale day.

That day, I coped with my situation in several ways and learned a few things about how to handle stress through mindfulness interventions. First, I reminded myself that even though I was doing more than my share of the work that day, I would also be getting more than my usual amount of commission. Since I was saving up for a car at the time, the extra money would be very helpful. This taught me that one way to cope with a stressful situation is to picture how much better off you’ll be when it’s over. Second, I tried to focus on my work and not pay attention to the time; I knew my eight-hour shift would feel even longer and I would get impatient if I kept staring at the clock. Through this, I learned that sometimes, when it’s possible, the best thing to do in a stressful situation is to put your head down and work through it. Finally, even though I was so busy that I didn’t have any time to talk to my remaining coworker, I knew by the looks that we gave each other that she was just as stressed as I was. I felt better knowing that I wasn’t the only person going through that experience and that she would be there to help me if I needed her to. This taught me that one of the best ways to cope with stress is to have someone there who understands what you’re going through, can relate to you, and is willing and able to lend a hand.