meQ member Joe, who works as a field reimbursement manager, is a self-proclaimed problem solver. As such, he typically is up for taking on challenges. But during the past three years, the world has been changing—dramatically. And Joe has started to feel the weight of problems that can’t easily be fixed.

“I want my five-year-old son to grow up in a world that’s inclusive, kind, and accepting,” Joe says. “I notice the world around me more now, and I’m concerned. I’ve needed something to manage that stress.”

So Joe is trying to be more aware of his overall well-being, and he is taking preventive steps to address his anxiety. “I want to be my best self, both at work and at home with my family,” he says.

Here, Joe shares some of his insights about how he used to deal with stress, as well as how he has learned to better manage his reactions.

1. He admits when he needs support.

“In the past, when I felt like I wasn’t getting what I needed, I dealt with it—or I didn’t deal with it. Sometimes this caused issues to my mental and physical well-being. I think for the first time in my life, I’ve had to look around and say, ‘I don’t think I’m okay.’ And it’s okay to say you’re not okay, but I need to know what to do about it.”

2. He asks for what he needs.

“In my house, it’s just me, my wife, and my son. How I interact with my wife can impact how I interact with my son. For example, she’s the first to leave in the morning. If she rushes out of the house and is short with me or we don’t talk, I’m a little grumpy. Then when I’m helping my son get ready for school, all of a sudden I’m short with him. But he didn’t do anything.

“The meQ Don’t Be a DEAL-Breaker activity has helped me ask more clearly for what I need. My wife admitted that usually her mood in the morning has nothing to do with me. But instead of tabling the issue, I used the activity steps to describe how it affects me and ask for manageable change. I said, ‘I understand, but when we start our mornings on a negative note, I’m not my best self the rest of the day. If you can take a second to give me a hug, etc., before you leave, it makes a big difference.’ And that has improved not just our relationship, but it also makes me better with my son. I even tend to have a better workday as opposed to over-processing our interaction all day.”

3. He steps away to check in.

“Sometimes I’ll be like, ‘Okay, I’ve been at my desk for two hours. I’ve been on calls, and I need to chill out.’ And I’ll use the Breathe Coach to do that. Or I’ll get up and walk around.”

4. He posts “notes to self.”

“Two years ago I got a new boss, and we had some communication challenges. I looked for meQ content around communication, wanting to improve. I also jotted down tips from Cup of Calm articles on sticky notes, which I’d post on my computer before calls so I could remember to apply them to our conversations. It helped improve our communication, and our relationship is going well as a result. It’s also helped me improve my overall job performance, because I’m the kind of person where if I feel like I’m not getting along with someone, it impacts me.”

5. He focuses on what he knows.

“Before, when communication with my boss didn’t go well, I’d focus on why I thought my boss didn’t like me. But the Trap it, Map it, Zap it activity made me look at things differently. So instead I thought, ‘Maybe that’s not actually what’s going on. Maybe she just didn’t get the communication from me that she was hoping for.’ And that’s something I could change. Once I did, our relationship improved. This technique has helped me shift my focus from the other person to my own feelings of why I feel the way I do, and what I can do to feel differently.”

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