Stress Survival Guide

Mid-year slump got you down? Check out these activities and resources for managing stress, preventing burnout, and jumpstarting your energy!

Stress tests: Try one of these assessments to gauge your current stress level. Results show you’re on the road to burnout? Read this article for tips on avoiding that pitfall.

Stress management plan: Okay, so you know you’re stressed. Now what? Create a plan to help you manage it!

  • List it out:  Make two lists. For the first, list 3 things in your life that are the most stressful. For the second, list 3 things you can do right now to alleviate this stress.
  • Mind Tools resources: Read this article on creating a more detailed stress management plan. Unsure how to alleviate the stress in your life? Check out this stress key to find resources that can help.

Adjust your attitude: Unhappy with your current position? Change your outlook!

  • Positive thinking: Easier said than done but positive thinking is a powerful tool for banishing the stress negative thoughts impart.
  • Laugh: Having a good guffaw a couple times each day is a great way to beat back stress. Watch your favorite comedy (You can’t go wrong with “Community”), read a funny book (I’d recommend Bill Bryson), or tell a joke.
  • Thrive on challenge: Reframe your perspective. When faced with challenges view them as solvable problems. When faced with situations outside your control, create new ways to cope with them.
  • Learn: If you aren’t happy with your current position make the most of the situation. No job is a dead end. There is always an opportunity to learn something. Take this time to pick up new skills or responsibilities so you’ll be ready for the next opportunity that comes along.
  • Speak up: Passivity leads to lack of personal control. Make sure your voice is heard! Ask and answer questions, attend meetings and events, make suggestions, and volunteer for projects.

Get it out: Keeping bad feelings pent up inside does nothing to alleviate stress. So instead of keeping quiet and soldiering on, try these simple techniques to safely vent.

  • Journal: Sometimes it’s easier to write things out than say them aloud.
  • Keep a stress diary: Pinpoint the things in your life that are causing stress by keeping a daily record of your emotional status.
  • Talk about it: Take advantage of your personal support network! Spend time with family and friends. Talk with an empathetic ear about what’s stressing you out.

Time management: Workload got you down? Try some simple time management techniques to get those daunting tasks under control.

  • Set limits: We all like to help out but there comes a time when you’ll need to say “no” to taking on another new project. Remember that you don’t need to save the world (at least today) or take on everything yourself
  • Delegate: If you are struggling to accomplish all of your tasks or need help on a project ask your co-workers and supervisor(s) to lend a hand.
  • Plan: While winging it can lend some spice to life, it can also generate stress. Use a planner or make lists of tasks (I like Post-its). Prioritize and add deadlines to keep on track.
  • Get some sleep: Take time to recharge! You’re sacrificing your health and the quality of your work by walking around sleep-deprived.

Just breathe: The way you breathe (deep diaphragmatic breathing vs. shallow clavicular breathing) can affect your mood. If you’re feeling stressed, slow down your breathing with this simple exercise.

  • Inhale to a count of four, drawing your breath up from your low belly to your chest.
  • Exhale to a count of eight, releasing your breath from your chest down to your low belly.
  • Repeat until you feel calm.

For more ideas check out the Mind Tools stress management toolkit.

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