We all feel pressured occasionally.  Some of us take it more in stride than others.  But, how well we deal with it can also depend on the specific situation.  The other day, I went into a coffee shop, and saw a long line.  After waiting until it was my turn, I gave my order, and then went over to stand where the drinks were being prepared.

As I was looking around, I noticed a young woman behind the counter.  She was in charge of fixing the individual drinks.  It soon became clear that she was having a very hard time keeping up, and handling the pressure of the morning rush.  I didn’t hear anyone getting inpatient with her, but I saw her becoming more stressed by the moment.  My heart went out to her!  I stood there, wishing I could say, or do, something.  I didn’t want to embarrass her, so I simply waited.

At that point, one of the other employees said something to her, and she left to go on a break.  I saw her sitting alone at a table outside.  There was no one else around.

I got my coffee, and decided to go out and talk with her for a couple minutes.   I told her that I had noticed that she was having a hard time.  As we talked, she had tears come to her eyes.  She seemed very moved to know that someone cared about her distress, and she kept thanking me.

I talked with her about how important it is, when we’re under stress, to just take a minute and breathe slowly and deeply.  I explained how we can calm ourselves down with our breath, and then reassure ourselves with positive, gentle, supportive self-talk.  I assured her that by taking just a minute or two to center ourselves, we can move forward in a much more relaxed and efficient way.  We didn’t have time to go into other stress management techniques, but we made a start toward change.

She seemed to feel better after we talked.  I don’t know how it was after she went back to work, but I’d like to think that our short time together made a difference.  I’m hoping that she was able to stay more centered.  Change is always a process, though.  It takes time to create a different way of being in the world.

I’m glad I went in there that morning!  I’m glad I took a chance on reaching out to someone who was hurting.  For that brief moment, we weren’t two strangers.  We were two people who quickly connected with openness and honesty,  and we both went away enriched by it.

Until next time,





  • Funny thing is I almost saved reading your post for another time (again!) because I was “too busy and stressed.” Those little helpers of breathing and checking in with oneself really do help me. Thanks Linda!

    • Amy, I’m so glad that you did take a couple minutes to read this post, and that it helped you. Thank you so much for letting me know. It helps to have periodic reminders to do those little things that can make a big difference.


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