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Let Stress Work for You

Let Stress Work for You

People suffer stress in any economy. Causes include excessive workloads, tension between coworkers, disrespectful bosses, botched interviews and missed opportunities. Rapid change creates new jobs and more stress. So, what to do? 

Don't fight it. Make stress work for you by recognizing it. We can't change stress in the workplace, only our reaction to it. When we choose to make stress work for us, it's called becoming resilient. Resilience is what happens as a result of coping well or recovering from losses. It's more than bouncing back; it means taking risks, learning to live with uncertainty and solving problems creatively. We do this in three ways:

Name It

Identify what is stressful and solve the problem creatively. For example, launching or changing a career is particularly stressful for young adults, who often fail to realize that workforce stress is hardest on them. It's a myth that the youth have it easy. By recognizing this fact, you can stop floundering and suffering more than you need to.

Relocation is another stressful situation. You're not just changing jobs; you're changing neighborhoods and leaving friends and relatives, all the while looking for new people to support you, like doctors, dentists, car mechanics, hair stylists and baby-sitters, to mention a few. Good things, like promotions, raises, buying a home and having a baby, are stressful, too. Often getting what we want, ironically, creates new burdens.

Work for a Company that Matches Your Values

Find companies committed to training and development or those listed with The Wellness Councils of America. Continue your education. Learning is one of the best strategies to make stress work for you and help you become resilient.

Follow an Individualized Plan of Action

One such plan is the Coach's Plan, which is designed to keep successful athletes mentally fit. When you feel stressed, stop what you are doing and breathe deeply, relax your mind and body, and then visualize your goal and see yourself achieving it.

Restate every negative thought with a positive statement about your strengths. Set mini-behavioral goals -- actions you can take now, such as, "Today I will identify three new companies to target, find three networking leads, volunteer somewhere; etc." Take action on your identified mini-goals.

Making stress work for you and becoming resilient takes practice. Like babies learning to walk, you'll have setbacks. The resilient aren't perfectionists who think and talk about how things should be. The resilient ones are people who take action, solve problems and reserve time for renewal. In turn, they are often among the people we admire. So start making stress work for you, too. Identify your stress, find employers who value resilience and follow an action plan. Whether you chose the Coach's Plan or develop one of your own, you'll be headed in the right direction.

Center for Career/Life Planning © 1999

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