Resources for Working in a High Stress Environment
RAFT Team, September 13, 2021
That pressure you feel? Your struggle to cope? The overwhelm your drowning in? That's stress.We all deal with it differently. And your reaction to stress varies depending on the day and whatever else is happening in life. As an SV/DV advocate, you're all too familiar with working in a high stress environment.
So how can you handle stress when you work in a high stress environment? Or even better, how can you reduce the amount of stress you experience? We list a few resources below to help you through times of high stress.
Reduce What’s on your Plate
The overwhelm you feel may be for good reason. Your days may be filled to overflowing, and your expectations to get everything done might be unrealistic. It may very well be time for a reality check. A great tool for this is something called the Eisenhower Matrix. (You can watch a short video about how it works here.) It’s named after Dwight Eisenhower, who, as a General and as President, had to make difficult decisions about how to spend his time and focus. He developed this system to sort it all out.
- First, make a list of all the things in your head. Let it be your brain dump. Get it all out.
- Now, sort each item on the list into the 4 Eisenhower boxes. You may need to rearrange things a few times: make sure the urgent things are both truly urgent and important, and can be done in the next 24 hours.
- Urgent: Do first, today or tomorrow
- Less Urgent: Schedule these items on the calendar.
- Less Important: Delegate these things to others. Make a note about who might be best for this task.
- Not important: Don’t do. Cross it off the list and move forward.
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Minimize Your Distractions
Your environment plays a role in how you feel about what’s on your plate. If you minimize your distractions, you’ll increase your focus, and get some of those “Do First” items checked off your list. Consider these common distractions:
- Clutter. Here’s an article on all the ways our physical space can support us as we work.
- Phone alerts.
- Social Media. Learn why and how you may need a digital detox here.
- Ambient noise. Can you try some noise-cancelling headphones?
- Discomfort (chair, temperature, lighting).
- Fatigue. Try setting your bedtime 15 or 30 minutes earlier.
Communicate Your Needs
You may find it difficult to ask for help. You’re not alone! No one wants to appear needy or to burden anyone else, but by asking, you can actually strengthen your relationships. The RAFT team explains how this is true for them in this powerful two-part podcast:
Humans are built for community. We need each other. But society has made you believe you should be able to handle things on your own. That’s why asking can be tough. Because you might feel awkward asking for help, here’s some perspective and 3 tips on how to make asking for help a bit easier.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Are you struggling with blurred boundaries between your work and home life? Is there a lack of boundaries in your relationships with friends, families, and colleagues? It is normal to have this struggle. And being able to set up and stick to healthy boundaries reduces stress as well. Saying no to stress sometimes means you have to say no to people and yes to yourself!
Make the Most of Your Self-Care Time
Remember that Eisenhower Matrix? Did you add self-care to the “Do First” list? It’s important to take time for self-care every day, even if it’s just a few moments. Build it into your day so it feels more like a lifestyle and a thing on the to-do list. This intentional time can help decrease your stress and, over time, transform your entire world! Here’s are a few ideas on what to do with your self-care time:
- Breathe. Yes, it’s okay to just close your eyes and breathe for a few moments. So refreshing!
- Meditate. Here’s how it can help you stay more balanced, as well as a few guided meditation links.
- Write in a gratitude journal. A gratitude practice can help build resilience! Here are some tips on how to enhance your self-care journaling practice.
- Get physical. Take a short walk, drink more water, or eat a tiny bit healthier today than yesterday, physical practices can strengthen your emotional health.
- Rest. Take a power nap. Or sit in nature with your phone on Do Not Disturb for 5-10 minutes or more. We live on an amazing planet and you can find beauty almost everywhere if you remember to look for it.
And if you’re looking for a creative outlet as you're working in a high stress environment but haven’t found it yet, browse our short list or creative boosters in this article. You may discover a way to increase your creativity that’s quick, easy, and fills your cup as a DV/SV Advocate.