You have too much on your plate, deadlines are looming, and people are counting on you. Since you can’t eliminate bouts of intense stress, you have to learn to deal with them. Studies show that people who practice “self-compassion” are happier, more optimistic, and less anxious and depressed. This is the willingness to look at your failures with kindness and understanding — without harsh criticism or defensiveness. Most of us believe that we need to be hard on ourselves to perform our best, but it turns out that’s plain wrong. A dose of self-compassion when things are at their most difficult can reduce your stress and improve your performance, by making it easier to learn from your mistakes. So remember that to err is human, and give yourself a break.