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A Navy SEAL's Guide to Thriving in Close Quarters, Part 5: Take Breaks

Stress is real, and it can creep up on you if you don't take a few simple steps to control it.

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By Alden Mills

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The fifth action in our R.E.M.O.T.E. strategy for thriving in close quarters is as crucial as the previous four: Take Breaks. Whether you are leading special operations teams or startup squads, leaders must be on point to prevent burnout. We all need downtime, and it can be particularly difficult to get a respite when we are living in the cramped quarters of a submarine (as I have done many times) or an apartment. Maybe you aren't living in cramped spaces but still feel stressed because you are operating in a blended work environment that now includes pets, kids and a spouse. I get it. I have four boys, two Labradors and five fish, and my "work from home" office is 10 steps from the kitchen and just big enough for me, a desk and a couple filing cabinets. Yet, the same techniques I learned while leading SEALs on submarines, along with a few I've picked up from starting a $100 million business from my garage (yes, my first office was really in my garage), are what I am going to share with you.

You might ask yourself, "What's the big deal about taking breaks?" And maybe if you're like me you would even pump your chest out a bit and say, "I don't need breaks, I'm a grinder!" That was my response 10 years ago, as I ground my way to the emergency room because I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest and my left arm was going numb. (Incidentally, if you're ever trying to get the attention of medical staff, just use those two symptoms; they told me to lie down and wait for ambulance! I didn't, my wife drove me to the hospital.) The point is, stress is real, and it can creep up on you if you don't take a few simple steps to control it.

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