This morning I recieved an unfortunate notice that a young person (19) collapsed suddenly of a stroke that was due strictly to stress-related issues at school/work/home. Shocking? Not really, considering what students and young professionals today are expected to do to be successful.
I have to say that I greatly admire students today. There’s a pressure on you that did not exist in previous generations; a pressure to achieve levels of social and professional “balance” that are not realistic, a pressure to support yourselves in an oddly extreme peak-/trough-driven economy where the so-called middle class is disapearing, and a remarkable pressure to maintain family values despite competing responsabilities…. These and other personal and professional factors can lead to sometimes overwhelming stress.
People often come up to me and ask in wonder, “Why doesn’t any of this stuff ever bother you?” My answer is always the same. “Believe me, it does, but when given the option to sink or float… one must choose to float.”
So how do you achieve this?
(1) Take the time to destress: Whatever your schedule, take at least 30-45 minutes a day to destress. Don’t have time? Your options might eventually be to take that time or suffer some sort of collapse. You have a lunch break. Use it. Don’t skimp there. Can’t take it all in one chunk? Take a few 15-minute breaks.
(2) Know yourself: Know what pushes your buttons and step away from situations a few moments before you feel you’re about to blow a gasket.
(3) Be realistic: S*** HAPPENS. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Get over it. Be ready to move on.
(4) Shake off your excess baggage: This is a must. We all have emotional baggage. Pretend you’re at the airport and maintain an emotional “baggage check” for heavy items you have to revisit from time to time but don’t really need to lug around with you for an eternity.
(5) Know your friends: I’m by no means about to win any Miss Congeniality contests, but I am certainly blessed to have a few friends who have my full confidence as I do theirs. You don’t have to be voted Prom King/Queen (or the real world equivalent) to be considered happy in your selection of friends. A few close, reliable confidants with whom you can share your experiences is just fine.
(6) Be willing to be happy: Self-criticism is your worst enemy. You have to LET yourself be happy. Look to the positive and be patient with yourself. Give yourself the time and space to be happy. Focus on the things you can and have done, don’t just knit-pick on the things you’ve done “incorrectly”. Not happy with something? Make a note of it and come back to it within a reasonable time frame, but definitely take the time to celebrate what you do well.
(7) Segregation of public and private life: It’s an increasing challenge in today’s world, but it’s important to give yourself downtime. Shut off your “Selfie” mode and allow yourself to experience great things without posting them. Those are often the moments that go farther in terms of appreciating your life and yourself.
(8) Have FAITH: You know, in every dark time of my life God has, in fact, sent me some small ray of light to guide me to the next part of my life path. There are days you can bask in the sunshine and others where you have to trudge through the rain and muck. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a state of dispair. BE CONFIDENT in yourself and in the unique gifts you have. Always remember your faith, always remember who you are, always remember that you are precious and valuable, no matter what.
(9) Get your rest: Tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities. If you’re going to get a running start to tackle a stressful situation, best do it with a good night’s sleep.
(10) Plan B: For every Plan A there should be a Plan B — a go-to backup plan when Plan A is either going to run you ragged or go awry. It’s important to give every project your all, but not at the risk of your health or your spiritual core. Look to your inner self for Plan B, turn the 2-plan strategizing tactic into a habit and watch your buttons become more difficult to push.
I know I didn’t list spa days, a monthly cleanse or long walks in the park…. Did you need me to? If there’s an additional #HelpfulTip you’d suggest, please post a comment.
For more tips on burnout, read Arianna Huffington’s Thrive!