Stress Reduction for Working Well, Part I

Sheila Lynch is a Master’s student in Steinhardt’s Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness Program. She also works at the Wasserman Center front desk where she’s probably helped you log in for an event or appointment. Here, she offers the first in a three-part series for managing stress and offers a song below as part of our ongoing music playlist.

We thought it would be a good idea to start our series on “Working Well” with some stress-busting basics. Then again, whether you’re in undergrad, graduate school, or dusting off your diploma– you’re probably already an expert on the topic. Perhaps you learned about the flight or fight response in Intro to Psych, or discovered the difference between eustress and distress when your sister transformed into Bridezilla last spring. Maybe you just deal with it Every. Darn. Day. Point is, you get it: some stress is good, too much stress can be trouble.

But we all get to a point (be it monthly, weekly, yearly) when the stress gets to be too much, and suddenly we don’t feel so well-equipped to deal. So what can you do when the pressures of work and school start piling up and the usual quick fixes aren’t working?

Next time all of your responsibilities are crowding your plate (and your judgment), try using this three step process to start clearing a path:

  • Step 1: Identify. What’s the source of your stress? Is there just one source, or can you identify a few? Write them down. Try prioritizing them according to which ones are giving you the most grief.

    • Need help identifying your stressors? Here are some common sources of school- and work-related stress to get you started:

      • School: adjusting to new environments, borrowing money, taking exams, finding employment, pressure to achieve, time management (Read more.)

      • Work: feeling powerless, unclear job description, poor job fit, poor working conditions, job insecurity, commuting, traumatic events (Read more.)

According to The American Institute of Stress, when it comes to workplace stress,“It is not the job but the person-environment fit that matters.”

No doubt, stress in one area tends to affect another. See if you can trace the stress back to its root(s). It can take time and serious self-reflection to understand if the stress you experience around midterms is in anticipation of the tests… or if it seems like something more than your average exam anxiety. Perhaps roommate troubles? Chronic illness? Internship search…?

(Check back soon for Step Two of Three…)

Sheila Lynch, Wasserman Center Staff: I never paid much attention to the olympics until the summer of 2012 when, having recently discovered my own inner athlete, I began running home to watch swimming, diving, track, and (my favorite) gymnastics. I even liked the promos: hands clapping, chalk dust flying, pre-performance jitters being shaken from limbs, and Philip Phillips’s “Home” playing in the background. That song has become my own personal anthem– fueling my excitement and helping me gather courage as I prepare for a race, interview, or the start of a new school year. If you ever feel out of your comfort zone, give it a listen and you might make that zone your home.

Thande Shange, Career Coach: My current go-to stressbuster is “Winelight” by Grover Washington

Lindsay Unger: Manager of Global Career Development: My choice is “Pompeii” by Bastille. This song helps me unwind and lighten my mood if I’m stressed. It reminds me of my wedding when we played this song before it was on the radio and no one knew what it was. As expected, the dance floor cleared but my husband and I owned it and slowly but surely others were motivated by our enjoyment to join us. It was just a happy, liberating moment that I like to relive when I’m stressed.

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