Spring into a Stress Free Zone

(Source: www.arinite.co.uk)

Who coined the phrase “I love stress!”? That’s right—no one ever. Now here in the spring semester, it’s time to identify, shed away, and prevent future stressors in your professional life.

Even if in love with your job, everyone has felt some level of stress in the workplace. Stress is common, and even beneficial in spurts or small doses, however chronic stress can be debilitating to your physical and psychological health. Common sources of stress in the workplace include:

  • Lack of social support or respect
  • Lack of professional development and growth
  • Overwhelming job-related tasks or deadlines
  • Unclear expectations of performance
  • Unsatisfactory salary/wages

Below are just a few of the potential effects of chronic stress. Hint: none of them are good!

  • Headache
  • Short temper
  • Difficulty sleeping/waking
  • Lack of concentration
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Depression

It’s important to identify the above symptoms as warning signs of chronic stress levels. Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies to manage stress, both by prevention and treatment. Here are just a few:

  • Develop healthy habits. Surprise—exercise is good! Thankfully, you don’t need a gym to lead a fit, healthy lifestyle. Anything from yoga, to moderate walks, to regular stretching in the office or home can make a difference in keeping stress levels down. Eat a healthy, protein/fiber-rich breakfast in the morning. Even if it means waking up an extra 20 minutes earlier, it will be more beneficial to your health, focusing your mind and body on the tasks of the day. Lacking a hobby? Find or create one! Whether it’s making time to pick up a favorite novel, or going to casual social gatherings, it’s a great way to relax and take your mind off work.
  • Recharge—even while at work. Staring at a computer or phone for hours at a time, multiple days a week can have serious consequences for your stress level, even if you don’t realize it immediately. Find time during your office hours to briefly leave the desk. Have a conversation with a coworker, take an actual lunch or water break, or whatever helps you de-stress. Your to-do list will survive the short period that you’re away.
  • Make stress your best friend (no, that’s not a typo). Most of us have had that all-important paper or project due the next morning—with nothing done the night before. Many of us still have been tasked with delivering a presentation in front of 20, 30, even 100+ audience members, about a topic we don’t even fully understand ourselves. Sound familiar? Sweating by just reading this? You’re not alone. However, we know that increased levels of stress can light a light a fire under us, providing the burst of energy needed to get the job done. While this should not be the go-to method for every work-related task, stress can aid us in a pinch in times such as this.
  • Communicate with others. Everyone handles stress differently, that’s just a fact. However, we all have friends and colleagues who hold onto stress for far too long without talking it out with others. If you are one of those people, few things can help you manage stress better than communicating with others, whether it be your supervisor, colleagues, or a career counselor (Northeastern’s Office of Career Development can help with this!). If bringing up job-related stressors with your supervisor, keep in mind that the purpose is not to unload a laundry list of complaints; instead, it should be to mutually come up with a plan to effectively manage the stressors you’re dealing with. Tip: most supervisors and managers can connect the dots between healthy, productive employees and effective work product. Have the conversation—you might be relieved to how quickly a solution arises!

Don’t forget that the Office of Career Development can help you manage certain aspects of your stress levels. For instance, stressing over the idea of choosing a career path or switching majors? Having difficulties preparing for the eventual post-graduation lifestyle? Struggling with the process of finding a summer internship? Stop by the Stearns Center for a brief 15 minute walk in, or set up an hour-long appointment with a career counselor to have a conversation on how to meet your career goals!

This guest post was written by Jabril Robinson, a Career Devel­op­ment intern and grad­uate stu­dent in the Col­lege Stu­dent Devel­op­ment and Coun­seling pro­gram here at NU.

Battle Your Stress



I am a highly anxious person. Point blank, that is who I am, no matter how many times I’ve tried to change it. But, after years of practice, I’ve been able to research and narrow down helpful methods of tackling my anxiety and stress head on.

How many times have you been at work and find yourself blankly staring at a list of things to do with no idea where to begin? According to Forbes.com, the average business professional has between 30 and 100 projects on their plate. Unruly to-do lists and a never-ending set of distractions from phones to Facebook lead us to these heightened states of stress.

So, how do we battle this growing problem (and to-do lists)? Below are my tried and true methods to calm down, focus, and get stuff done.

Take a Deep Breath | Sounds simple, right? It’s one of the easiest things out there to level your mind and take your blood pressure down a notch. In a method borrowed from traditional yoga practices, the act of sama vritti, or “equal breathing” is a practice to calm and soothe. In her new book Do Your Om Thing, yogi Rebecca Pacheco, explains the method: “the idea is to evenly match the length of your inhale to that of your exhale.” So, sit down, feet flat on the ground, and breath in… breath out…

De-Clutter | A messy space makes a messy mind. Take 20 or 30 minutes, to tidy up your living room, workspace, bedroom, kitchen, you name it! Making space in your living and working area will free up space in your mind as well.

Eat Right | It’s so easy to get caught up in the flurry and decide to chow down on a Bolocco burrito and chips rather than a well-balanced meal. While that’s great to do every now and then (I do love the occasional burrito bowl), but it can catch up to you. Research suggests that eating sugary and processed foods can increase symptoms of anxiety.

Catch some Zzz’s |  Do you frequently pull all-nighters? Are you a night owl? Well, be warned, because research shows that you are a heightened risk for chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and mood disorders. While one night of little sleep can leave you grumpy, continued lack of sleep can have lasting effects. “Chronic sleep issues have been correlated with depression, anxiety, and mental distress.” Get some shut eye, turn off the electronics, relax your muscles, and drift off into a nice rest that will leave you refreshed and ready to tackle the next day.

If you need one final push for a happier, more stress-free day, just take a break and bust a move to your favorite song. (This is mine)

Here’s to an anxiety-free day! Let’s get to it!

Tatum Hartwig is a 4th year Communication Studies major with minors in Business Administration and Media & Screen Studies. Tatum brings experience and knowledge in the world of marketing and public relations from her two co-ops at Wayfair and New Balance. Her passion revolves around growing businesses via social media, brand development, and innovation. You can connect with Tatum on Twitter @tatumrosy, Instagram @tatumrose, and LinkedIn.

Keep Calm and Don’t Punch Anyone

stressed out guyThis guest post was written by graduate candidate and full time professional, Kristina Swope.

Well, easier said than done. On days like today, where the humidity is 450% and I’m drowning in schoolwork and job responsibilities, it’s incredibly difficult not to take down innocent bystanders. When the biggest urge you have is to karate chop a coworker in the side just because they exist, it’s time to stop, take a deep breathe, and think about what can be done.

We hear about work-life balance all the time. As a society, we talk about it constantly. It’s in articles, blogs, and often discussed in the workplace. The bottom line is the employee is responsible for their work-life balance. In theory, it’s a great concept – when you can swing it.

But what about days like today? What about sitting at your desk at 9pm, when the florescent auto-lighting in the office has turned off on you and five people are shouting at you via email? You feel run-down, like nothing can be done fast enough or well enough for anyone’s liking. By the time you get home, the most energy you can muster results in laying on your living room floor watching the ceiling fan spin around.

I’m guilty of all the above. On more occasions than I’d like to admit, I’ve been one step away from ripping my hair out, just because it would be less painful than the stampede of people. Instead, I’ve started using a less painful technique that has helped organize the millions of little tasks that have to be taken care of.

stressed out girlFirst, breathe. Close your eyes, stop yourself from reacting, and don’t allow your emotions to take you on a rollercoaster. No one actually likes to go upside-down anyway, it just happens and then afterwards we’re glad we survived.

Shut it down.  Even if you have a ton more to today, the best thing you can do for yourself is to shut down. Close the laptop, turn off the cell phone, and do something you truly enjoy. Whether that’s catching up on a show in a blanket cocoon because you never have the time, or it’s going out to dinner with a friend, it’s just what your soul needs.

Make lists. Once you’re ready to reboot, the best way to move forward is to organize yourself. If you’re juggling multiple responsibilities, it may help to make separate lists. Personally, I make one list of tasks for school, one for work, and one for personal. Looking at what needs to be accomplished on paper helps you get a better sense of timing and allows you to prioritize tasks across categories.

Finally, take action where you can. Look at your respective lists and see what can be done today. If you have three small personal tasks, why not stay up an extra hour or two and finish them up? You’ll be lying in bed thinking about everything you have to do anyway, so you might as well be productive. Not to mention, the feeling of crossing something off your list is surprisingly rewarding and one by one those tasks come off the list. Even though more will be added, it will prevent anything important from falling through the cracks. It won’t happen all in one day, but you’ll wield the lists slowly but surely.

Kristina is a full-time Market Research Project Manager in Philadelphia and a full-time student at NU pursuing a Master of Science in Organization and Corporate Communication, with a concentration in Leadership. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.