People deal with their stress in a variety of different ways, all of which vary in their degrees of effectiveness. For some people, stress acts as their biggest motivator and is often seen as a positive thing while others are left feeling completely frozen and helpless. Here are some tips on how to become the former and avoid the latter.
Don’t get drunk. Stressed out people often like to avoid their responsibilities and hit the bottle hard because it quiets the pressure and anxiety they constantly feel, but it never actually ends up working. The next morning, you’re just left with more stuff to do and a gnarly hangover to boot. So save getting loose and fancy free for when you’ve actually completed your tasks. Drinking should be the reward, not the roadblock.
Tackle your tasks one at a time. It sounds very cheesy and very Rose from Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead to say so but it’s true. In college, when I was assigned a ten-page paper that was due in five days, I would write two pages a day. I know that sounds crazy (no one I knew did that) but I’m a person who’s sort of terrified of stress. I will go to great lengths to avoid feeling stressed out, even if it means being the weirdo who writes a paper in two-page increments. When you think of all the things you have to do at once, you’re bound to crumble. Everything seems impossible when viewed in the bigger picture. Instead, you need to process things bit by bit. Write down each thing you need to accomplish for the day and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to do them. Don’t think of the million things you have to do. Just focus on the task at hand. Pretend it’s the ONLY thing you have to do. I swear, being in 10% denial will make you feel better.
Establish a reward system for yourself. If you finish X and Y activity, you can do this fun thing. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed with work, I’ll actually make plans with a friend that night, so it will motivate me to get my stuff done. It puts me on a self-imposed deadline, which always seems to work. The reality is that being stressed is its own time waster. Sitting around and thinking of all the things you have to do cuts time into actually doing them. If you make plans to meet your friend at 8:00pm for a drink, you know you have to get everything done by then. Because you can’t flake on your friend (they’ll hate you forever) and you can’t go hang out when you still have so much work to do at home (you’ll hate yourself). So you’re left with no choice but to get it done. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you actually enter the zone of working. You can actually finish what seems like six hours of work in two hours. (The other four hours would’ve been spent being stressed and falling into k-holes on Facebook and Twitter.)
Put things in perspective. If you screw up and miss a deadline, would your life really be over? I remember when I was an intern at some fancy magazine, I had to print out like a thousand pictures of Blake Lively and the printer stopped working. I started to panic (In retrospect, it’s hilarious that you feel more stress when you’re an unpaid intern than when you actually land a full-time paid position) and think of ways to fix it. I didn’t know a damn thing about this printer though and every five minutes my boss would be like, “WHERE ARE THE PICTURES OF BLAKE LIVELY?!” And I would have beads of sweat forming at my asscrack and tell her, “Um, it’s getting fixed!” That was one of the most stressful moments of my life and it was because of Blake Lively. Eventually, I calmed down and got a grip. This won’t matter ten minutes from now. The printer will get fixed and the photos of Blake Lively will land on some editor’s desk and ultimately get ignored, so who cares?! Through trial and error, you really begin to understand what things are worth freaking out over and what can be met with an “LOL! WHATEVER!” And, trust me, most things can be met with an “LOL!”
Whenever you encounter a stressful situation, it’s important to realize that it will all be okay in the end. Just light a candle, smell pretty things, take a deep breath, and get to work on the task at hand. If you can do this, you’ll know you’ve become an excellent manager of stress. “I’m right on top of that, Rose!”