How to survive and live in high pressure work situations…can we have it all?

-Written by Laura, Anna & Sally, DevelopHer Board Members-

In January, DevelopHer board members Sally, Laura and Anna spoke at a fireside chat as part of GetaHead Wellness Week. The topic was on how to survive and live in high pressure work situations…and can we really have it all?
Although we’re not medical experts, we shared tips and advice on how we personally manage stress.

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Below are the highlights of what we spoke about it:

What is pressure and stress?

It’s all about how you respond under the constraint of certain circumstances. It might be how you respond and manage yourself in either a work context or personal context. Sometime the urgency of this situation can create strong attention or distress on yourself.

Stress can be an emotional, mental, physical strain or tension based on how you react to a demanding situation.

What does it mean to have it all?

  • Understand and identify what ‘having it all’ means to you. Having it all can depend on your where you are in your life and what is important to you at the time:
    • Based on the Bravest Path Brene Brown coaching programme that Laura and Anna joined, we learnt that’ having it all’ refers to achieving what our values in life are. A value is a way of being or believing what’s most most important to you. Knowing what your 5 values are, can help you live your life focusing on achieving your values. By achieving your values, you can live a more meaningful live. So if ‘having it all’ connects back to achieving your 5 values in life – then yes you can have it all.

What does stress feel like to you?

When noticing stress, the three of us get the following symptoms:

  • Weight and strain on my shoulders (Laura)
  • Stress-eating on sugary snacks or caffeine related (Laura & Sally)
  • Lack of clarity – can’t think straight (Laura)
  • Over-working and lack of attention to other people or activities (Laura)
  • Short fused – things get to me quickly (Laura)
  • Inability to sleep (Anna & Sally)
  • Inability to settle down – feeling weird when you have a few hours of quiet (Anna)
  • Loss of appetite (Anna)
  • Need for lots of sensory stimulation such as music (Anna)
  • Back pain (Sally and Laura)
  • Feeling like I have FOMO (Sally)
  • Rumination when I cannot resolve something – think of it over and over again

Laura mentioned that it’s important to notice these elements before you get burnout as she often notices different symptoms when facing burnout such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Unable to sleep
  • Change in mood, typically lack sense of energy/happiness
  • Losing confidence in my capabilities

DevelopHer Wellness event

How do you manage stress?

    • Identify which situations create the most stress to you, and how you respond to them. Think about tracking what causes you to be stressed or what makes you feel the tension when you’re under pressure. Knowing your own symptoms and when it happens, can help you think about the small changes you can look to implement to help manage it.
    • Establish boundaries on what you take on, how you respond to
      people/friends and saying ‘no’.

      • Anna – when working with other time zones: edit your calendar so people can’t book in meetings past 5:30pm. Only join late meetings if it’s an absolute priority.
      • Anna/Laura – I never do work on the weekend or at home. I try to keep it to the office so that when I get home, I can focus on other things. This also helps condition me to not think about work at home too.
      • Laura – Set time for yourself, even if it means saying no to a couple of social events! Ensure you take time to re-charge your batteries without other people being around you.
    • Take time to recharge – and incorporate into a routine. Practice and find out what allows you re-charge yourself.
      • Exercising, releasing natural endorphins
        • Anna –  I’m goal-oriented so setting  goals so that I have to exercise – half marathons and triathlons to work towards – means you need to exercise every week to get there
        • Laura – I try to set 20 mins three-four times a week to at a home HIIT session. I also go to dance once a week even if its a busy period. Make sure you exercise in a way that makes you happy and that will motivate you to do it again! I’m not a gym person, so I don’t kid myself!
        • Sally – I love dancing, swimming & pilates. I also make morning walks on the weekend with my dad  into a consistent routine.
      • Meditate and learn to be calm – e.g. using headspace app is a great way to start practicing mindfulness.
      • Every morning I listen to a podcast whilst I get ready for work (Laura)
        • I also love Oprahs supersoul conversations  and masterclasses podcasts, and getting curious with JVN (Sally).
      • Try and create an ‘artist date’ for yourself once a month or week. An artist date is solo adventure that I fully dedicate myself into for 2–3 hours e.g. going for a walk, reading a book, attending a class (Laura)
        • Sally loves the quote “time spent without purpose” by Brene Brown, give yourself space.
      • Do something that makes you feel good and energises you – Sally loves singing in groups
  • Maintain a healthy diet
      • Laura  – When I’m stressed I normally reach for high sugared snacks and caffeine based products. However it makes me feel quite low in energy and I lose control of when to stop. I try and food prep on Sundays to avoid going down the slippery slope during the week.
      • Anna – I try to eat what I want but in smaller portions, try not to be too restrictive so that I don’t think about eating – e.g. big lunch, very small dinner
      • Sally – I’m a fish eating vegetarian. I have always eaten healthy. I don’t drink much and don’t do drugs.
  • Keeping organised
      • Sally – I use a table diary and make lists. I also plan my day, the day before so I don’t wake up in a panic! Give yourself time to process.
      • Anna – Give yourself realistic deadlines, then add a few working days to when you think you can actually deliver something – its gives you less pressure.
      • Laura – Alongside to-do lists, I block out time in my calendar on individual tasks that I want to focus on – whether it’s for high priority tasks or self development, try and block it as a meeting in your diary.
      • Laura – I also colour coordinate my calendar, anything work or meeting related I colour it red. Anything personal that is time for myself, colour it green (even if its spending time to go for lunch or seeing friends). I try and make sure if my calendar is red, that I’ve put some green in there too to balance it out.
  • Letting go of your perfectionism
      • Laura – Avoid putting on self pressure by being too much of a perfectionism. Take 1-2 small steps each week on making changes e.g. challenge yourself to give more liberty to people working on projects. Or try doing a project in a different way then your normal tactics, to challenge how you work on something.
      • Anna – be kind to your self
      • Anna – give realistic deadlines – add a few working days to when you think you can actually deliver something – gives you less pressure to be stressed out on tight deadlines.
      • Sally – be prepared to be uncool – cut loose
  • Practicing gratitude

    • Anna – Celebrate the small things in life too
    • Anna – Be glad about friends, and speak to them when needed
    • Laura – Make sure you spend time to celebrate your hard work without moving on to the next task too quickly. Find a way to do this, whether it be updating your CV, sending thank you notes or taking the time in your day to say ‘that was pretty good, well done’.
    • Laura – remember to be thankful to those who helped you and say it out loud. If you’re ever feeling burnout, I like to use positive cognitive therapy which was suggested to me by a friend. This involves writing the 10 things that I’m grateful on a piece of morning, and read through it every morning and every night.d3ea2a98-5c71-4f57-9a66-ff3dc76e8d89.JPG

Our Reading List

Here is also our suggested reading list which might also help you manage your own stress:

  1. Seven Habits of Highly effective people – Stephen R Covey
  2. The road less travelled by M Scott Peck
  3. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  4. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
  5. Poems for Grown Women
  6. How to own the room by Viv Groskop
  7. Thrive by Arianna Huffington

 

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