Every workplace has its fair share of stress. So too does every job position, in varying degrees, of course. Since you can’t avoid stress, you must learn how to manage it, particularly if you want to get ahead in your graduate career.
Why is this important? Because if handled badly, stress will limit your ability to develop the key competencies employers look for and that you need to get ahead – for example, your problem-solving skills, resilience, can-do attitude, communication skills, self-management and organisation skills will all be compromised.
Not only can stress adversely affect your career chances but it can also play havoc with your health, which is far worse. So here are 12 super practical steps you can take to stop stress from stalling your graduate career:
Surround yourself with positive thinkers.
People who complain and moan continually sap your energy and can influence you to become just like them if you start to agree with their views. Remember, we build empathy with one another by mirroring what’s going on inside their heads. So, when someone retells a story about some stressful event, we experience the same anticipation, anxieties, and fear as if it happened to us. Steer clear of people who regularly offload their own stress on top of yours.
Create a routine that helps you get the most important work done first.
One of the things that can make you feel like you’re losing control is having too many undone tasks piling up, that’s why you need to prioritise your work. if you don’t, you’ll be active for sure, but you’ll not accomplish the right things. instead, do the most important and urgent things first and then tackle everything else. There’s a difference between being efficient and being effective.
Be honest about how much time a task will take.
Time management is a big topic in itself, but one practice that will make a difference to your stress levels is to manage how much time you allocate to getting stuff done. Don’t write lengthy to-do lists when you know deep down that you aren’t going to complete everything on that list in an hour, a day, or a week. You’ll feel ten times better if you aim to do 3 things and complete them than ten and complete only 3. Biting off more than you can chew will only choke you.
Use a diary to make a note of things you need to remember. You can also use the scheduling reminders on software like Outlook to help stay abreast of dates, meetings and other important events you don’t want to miss. Missed appointments or always running late will only add to your sense of being out of control and therefore feeling stressed.
Set small goals.
When I say this I don’t mean that you shouldn’t have big goals. I mean you should also have short-term and daily goals to accomplish the things you want to do. You can accomplish this by breaking down big goals into small steps or milestones. As you complete each goal you’ll create a better sense of accomplishment for yourself, rather than trying to tackle long-term or big goals that forever seem to be far off into the future.
Take breaks at the right time.
The average duration of time our brains can concentrate on taxing tasks such as looking at spreadsheets, doing calculations or reading complex information is about 20 minutes. Willpower will eventually run out if you run yourself tired. Instead, schedule breaks – and they don’t all have to involve you sitting there humming and meditating: even a change from an arduous to a less taxing task can help. You’ll focus a lot better and work more efficiently if you take regular breaks to recharge your batteries.
Leave the last hour or so of the work day for less weighty work.
This will help you to prepare to wind down for the day and to relax. Doing something creative or planning for the next day are perfect examples. You’ll then find it easier to switch off and to rest later on, which both your mind and body need to do to repair. Besides, how nice to look forward to doing the stuff you like best at the end of the day after you’ve done the hard graft? It’s like rewarding yourself.
Be kind to others.
How can being kind to others help you to feel less stressed? Because kindness is contagious and the seed of happiness. People will remember how you made them feel long after they’ve forgotten what you did, and they will want to reciprocate. This cycle of generosity and happiness will keep making you feel good simply because the people you are nice to feel happy.
Watch the words you speak to yourself.
‘I’m such an idiot’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m going to fail’, and other words and phrases that beat you down won’t help you. Instead, treat yourself like a friend you like and are advising. If you do this you’ll likely use words that make your friend feel energised, encouraged and valued. These words create positive emotions that will then guide your behaviour and actions in equally positive ways.
Understand your emotions.
What sort of patterns of emotions do you find yourself feeling? How do they influence your thoughts and behaviour? If you get to know your triggers before they begin to dampen your mood and cause you to feel like the world is falling apart then you can act to stop things escalating. You cannot prevent tough events from coming your way but you can control how you respond to them and, therefore, the way they affect you.
Don’t play the martyr.
Forget trying to be self-reliant. You don’t have all the answers or skills to do everything by yourself, and knowing this is the first step to admitting it. Seeking help from others isn’t the only way you’re going to grow but it sure is the fastest and smartest. Build up useful networks and contacts with people that can help you. Pick the brains of your colleagues and managers. People generally like to be asked for their help.
Take a deep breath.
Whenever you find yourself losing your cool and feeling hot under the collar, breathe in deeply and exhale slowly. This will have the effect of calming your nerves by reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. Besides, it helps you to avoid reacting to things before you’ve given yourself time to think.
And there you have it – 12 Super practical steps you can take to stop stress from stalling your graduate career. Unfortunately, stress can make you less competent and, needless to say (but I shall say it anyway), you need the competence to succeed in your career. Since no workplace exists in the world where there is no stress, you must learn how to manage it. You’ll then be able to think more clearly, act more wisely and to grow in ways that help you fulfil your graduate career goals.