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This mental trick used by army snipers will help you stress less at work

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Think about the last time you were stressed out at work. Maybe a tense morning meeting ruined your mood for the rest of the day, or an ambiguous email from your boss right before lunch sent your heart rate soaring throughout your break.

Chances are, your stress affected your productivity. And not being productive at work can lead to more stress: shorter deadlines, less time to prepare for meetings or conference calls, and generally feeling out of control.

A former army sniper says he has the answer. It's a trick commonly referred to as SLLS, which is an acronym for the following:

  • Stop what you're doing.
  • Look around.
  • Listen to your surroundings.
  • Smell your environment.

Jeffry Harrison, who wrote an article about his experience with SLLS for The Muse in 2015, says his sniper instructors taught him this was the quickest and easiest way to regain control.

Bradley Cooper in "American Sniper"
Source: American Sniper
Bradley Cooper in "American Sniper"

Harrison, now a Senior Account Executive and Employer Branding Specialist at The Muse, encourages people to use their phones to set SLLS alarms throughout the day.

Similar to FitBits and other fitness trackers that vibrate on a user's arm to remind them to get up from their desks and walk around a bit, an SLLS break is a dedicated time for you to stop what you're doing and bring yourself into the present. The hope is that one day you'll no longer need an alarm to remind you to take that break and de-stress.

"Whether it's for 30 seconds or five minutes," Harrison writes, "take as long as you need to regain clarity."

It's not just work that can be a place of stress. Sometimes you carry that stress home with you, and it can keep you up to all hours of the night. If you've tried SLLS while winding down for bed but are still having trouble, sleep experts recommend a few other ways to handle your racing thoughts, like coloring or taking a break from bed and trying to pass out on the couch.