Back from hiatus! Apologies again for my few days absence last week. Things at my job have been absolutely crazy, and I’m completely void of energy by the time that I get home. It’s such a vicious cycle! When work drains me it robs me of the ability to exercise, plan ahead, and organize myself. Which only makes me more tired. I’ve been making it to yoga 3-4 times a week which has helped during the day but not assisted in my tired state each evening. Yesterday I finally peeled myself off the couch around 8:00 pm to take Riley on a much needed walk. Afterwards I had such a clear head and though I still felt tired but much more refreshed.
What is it about work sometimes that can be so exhausting? I truly love what I do. To give you a little background I work with college students in an advising or counseling nature. I get true satisfaction in seeing them develop as critical thinkers and engaged individuals. I thrive off assisting them to develop as whole people, helping them take responsibility for their education and allowing them to see that their actions have direct outcomes in their lives. However, it can be exhausting to be that emotionally supportive, empathetic, and diligent.
So the big question remains, how do I continue to do what I love without facing the inevitable burn out?
So here are my tips to stop, de-stress and stay positive at work. Or more plainly put: How to Manage Stress
1. Take breaks. Step outside, call your mom or a friend, write an email to someone you care about. Stop and take a break. The fountain above is about 5 blocks from my office and is the perfect location to take a quick walk to in order to destress. This is one of my favorite squares in savannah. Downtown and close to work but far enough east that it’s a little forgotten about. A great place to stop, breathe in and enjoy the sound of a fountain. I know not everyone works in downtown savannah like I do, and I get it. My last job was in an industrial park next to the highway. But I still found that a walk outside the building, or even once through the halls on a cold day, helped me refresh.
2. Find your rhythm at work. I personally get overwhelmed if I try to start a task when I have 15 important emails waiting that I know need to be finished (15 unimportant emails can be put off until a later time). So I triage. I’ve learned what my strengths are (very hard to answer voicemails before coffee. answer emails while consuming coffee in the AM). I’ve learned my best times to work. I’ve learned when I need to put headphones in to focus and drown out the office chit chat. And I’ve learned when the best times to collaborate with a coworker are. Pay attention not only to your rhythm, but the rhythm of those you work with and rely on. If your boss can’t handle being interrupted with small questions throughout the day be sure to write any question down and then arrange a time to talk about those issues together. Or maybe she doesn’t have time for a big meeting but she is ok with you popping your head in from time to time. Study your coworkers and learn to work with them – it will save you time and frustration in the long run!
3. Take time each day to meditate. Until I started going to yoga frequently, I really hadn’t given meditation a thought. One of my instructors mentions meditation frequently, and often will set aside time in class for practice. One of the most important things she has ever said to me was that you really can’t ‘try’ to meditate and fail. The simple act of trying to meditate – setting aside 5 or 10 (or even more) precious minutes to clear your mind, close your eyes, focus on your breath – that is meditating. You are already doing the work, even if some days you feel complete distracted while you are doing it.
4. Plan ahead with food. I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired or frustrated or overwhelmed at work often times the first thing I look to is the vending machine or the Starbucks just around the corner. To fight those urges I try to plan my meals for work ahead of time and I always try to keep something in the office for unexpected cravings.
5. Find what makes you happy. Yes we all have to do things we don’t want to do. Yes as adults we need to learn how to cope with that stress and manage professionally. But at the end of the day if your stress is starting to impact the way you feel and act as an overall person you need to ask yourself – what is the cost? Maybe it is time to reevaluate things and consider a change. And change does not come easy. It will take time and work so don’t even fear rushing into something new too quickly.
How do you manage stress?