Yesterday, a group of us went to a workshop called “Trendy Stress?!” by Erica Messinger from Agilent Technologies at the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) National Conference. Here are some of the useful tips and ideas from the session (garnered from Erica), with a few of my own thrown in:
1. Change Your Phrasing.
Instead of saying “I am Stressed,” say “I have stress.” By phrasing it in this way, you are saying that you have control over your stress, rather than your stress having control over you.
Stop saying “I should,” and instead say “I choose.” Remember, you always have a choice!
2. Prioritize in the way that works best for you.
There are many ways to manage your time and priorities. Here are a few:
- Create a pie chart showing what percent of your time and energy you want to devote to each priority. Post it by your desk to keep you on track.
- Create a urgent-important matrix, and plot out your “to-do’s” on it, a la The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
- Number your to-do list based on how urgent and important the items are.
- Post a list of your short-term and long-term goals by your desk.
3. Create a “To NOT Do” list, in addition to your “To Do” list.
This goes back to the idea that you always have a choice. We all know about to-do lists, but what about not-to-do lists? It will help you stay on track and remain focused.
4. Find what stress relievers work for you.
Just because yoga or meditation calms your friend, doesn’t mean that it will help you relieve stress. Maybe you need to workout, or read a book, or take a bath. Find what works for you, and set aside some “me time” for you each day.
My top stress relievers?
- Cuddling with Dan
- Calling my mom
- Reading a book for fun
5. Figure out if your stress is “trendy.”
Do you really need to be doing everything that you currently have on your plate? Or do you feel like you aren’t “contributing” if you aren’t constantly busy, and therefore, stressed? Have we reached a point where it is “cool” to be stressed?
Here’s my list of priorities, from my September 30 post, with notes as to how necessary they are:
- Finishing my degree. I’ve made it through 4 years, I better finish the 5th and final year!
- Wedding planning. Yes, this needs to be done by May 30, 2010! I need to start delegating tasks more, though, as we start getting into the detailed work!
- Half-marathon training. I’m already registered and paid, but I’ll be making myself a training plan structured around the rest of my schedule.
- Finding a full-time job. Ideally, I will have something lined up before we move to Ithaca. But, if I don’t find something until I get there in the summer, that’s okay too.
- Being involved in Society of Women Engineers. –I’m the VP of Internal Relations, and I love SWE. Oftentimes, going to SWE is the highlight of my day. I don’t want to give this up. However, I am learning that it is okay to say “no” to events that I don’t have time for or am not super excited about.
- Helping teach the freshman engineering course.– This doesn’t take a whole lot of time, and I need to finish it up this semester. But, I don’t think I’ll do it again next semester (see, I’m learning to say “no” !)
- Interning for MixMyGranola. — I’m really enjoying the internship, and I think I would enjoy something like this as a full-time job. So, I’m not going to give this up. In fact, I’m hoping to have more time for it…
- Spending time with Dan. — Duh. A definite priority. Spending time with the Future Husband = important!!
- Spending time with friends. — Again, duh. Family and friends are important! Again, though, sometimes I need to say “no.”
- Calling my mom regularly.– Family is important, and calling my mom is one of my stress relievers. So, this is a definite priority.
- Meal planning & cooking.– I’ve been doing some meal planning, but I think I’m going to do it in a more structured way from now on. That way, I will still have time to cook, which I love. Plus, my body and mind feel better when I make and eat home-cooked meals, so this one has to stay!
- Blogging. — Seriously, if I had a way to make blogging my full-time job, I would do it. This one stays.
Okay, so I’m busy. And there are very few things I want to give up. So I don’t think I would call my stress “trendy,” because I’m cutting back where I can, and trying to find more efficient ways to fit everything in.
6. Know when your stress hurts you, and when it helps you.
There is bad stress (distress), which we all know about, but did you know about eustress? This is the stress that is actually helpful, rather than detrimental to your health. Which kind of stress do you have?
Do YOU have stress? How do you manage it?