3 manageable steps that help battle stress and avoid burnout

Last month was one of my most stressful months this year. Work was tense, my home life was chaotic, and my personal and professional calendar was jam-packed. Looking back on the month, I have to give myself some well-deserved kudos.

Although I was faced with a lot of challenges and commitments, I endured and did so gracefully. I never lost my cool, I never got run-down and I never missed a beat. If this had been five years ago, I would have been burnt out and sick in bed writing out sorry cards to all the people who had to deal with my frazzled, angry and impatient behavior. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but you get my point.

In the event you are ever faced with a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, week, or month you may benefit from learning about some of the steps I took to get ready.

Step one: Preparation

Knowing the month was going to be hectic, I did everything I could to make my life easier. Among other things, I canceled non-urgent appointments and spent extra time organizing my calendar and to-do lists. I also stocked up on vitamins, nutritious snacks and my favorite teas so that I had all of my “survival necessities” at both home and work.

What you can do: Chances are your preparation plan for the hard time to come will be very different than mine and that’s okay—just be sure to prepare. Ask yourself what you need to do to stay healthy and focused, then put together a plan and make it happen. When putting together your plan, I recommend being detailed and specific with your to-do’s and goals, creating measurable milestones and putting a timeline on everything.

Step two: Communication

Rather than keep my anxiety and stress bottled up, I regularly let my boss, husband, close friends, family, and co-workers know about my busy schedule, some of the stuff I was going through, and how I was feeling. I also asked for help any time I could.

What you can do: If you have a lot on your plate, be sure those around you know it. At a high level, let people know what’s going on and how it may impact your performance. Also, be sure to let them know exactly how they can help you.

If you are having a chat with your boss, stick to the facts. Don’t share unneeded personal information and be sure they understand why you are reaching out to them. Talking about your situation will make you feel better and help others better support you.

Step 3: Relaxation  

While regularly resting and rejuvenating my body and mind didn’t come naturally, I did it anyways. I “forced” myself to go for short walks during the day, I “made” myself veg out in front of the TV a few nights a week and I stayed committed to going to bed by 10 p.m. every night.

What you can do: Being stressed and always on the go is a recipe for burnout; that’s why it’s so important to give yourself time to relax and unwind. Identify activities that help put you in your Zen—whether that’s attending a yoga class or going for a run or reading a good book—and then establish personal relaxation goals and rules to help keep yourself disciplined and balanced.

Danielle Clark is a human resources manager with more than 10 years of HR and customer service experience in healthcare and retail organizations. Her work with Fortune 500 companies, in addition to a diverse professional and academic background, has trained Clark to be results-driven, people-focused and a thought-provoking leader. Her goal is to educate and inspire professionals to change their way of thinking. She is also an adjunct professor, active community volunteer, wife, mother and passionate lifelong learner.

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