Changing careers can be stressful. And let’s face it, the stress starts waaaaay before you’re able make any real changes in your career. Once you realize that your job is not actually what was advertised, or that the company doesn’t honor the values that it publicly trumpets, or you get taken for granted by people you’re losing respect for day by day…cue the stress at work.
Obviously, you want to get out of a situation like that, but that doesn’t happen overnight. So while you ride it out at your job until you’re ready to make a smart change, here are 5 things you can do to help you manage the stress. (And no, eating Hershey minis is not one of them; step away from that bowl.)
5 WAYS TO MANAGE STRESS AT WORK
1 | HAVE A DAILY MORNING RITUAL
Ground your day with a simple morning ritual. I’m saying ritual because it’s something you’ll do every day, not because it has to involve crystals and burning herbs.
Just choose something simple you can do each morning for 5-15 minutes. That might be writing one page in a journal, doing 3 sun salutations, taking your coffee on your porch, or reading a single poem from a collection. The point is make the start of the day your own. You give so much of your day to your job that it’s important to claim what time is yours and use it intentionally.
Don’t try to impress anyone with your choice, here. We don’t know if you’re doing kundalini yoga or reading a comic book. This is your time.
2 | TAKE NOTES FOR THE SITCOM
Sometimes it can feel like you’re living in a tragedy. Deciding that you live in a sitcom makes life more bearable.
The next time your job stresses you out, mine the situation for comedy. Find the absurd.
My college roommates and I have kept a running commentary going for nearly 15 years now about our imagined sitcom. We know which actresses would play each of us and recast as new stars rise. (Can you guess who has played me? Take a stab in the comments.)
When life gets hard, we remind each other that ratings will soar in this “episode” because of the current drama, or conversely that viewership will drop off because whatever is going on seems too far-fetched. It helps. Casting the villains is especially fun.
3 | HAVE A DESIGNATED COMRADE
You probably have supportive family and friends, but even better is having a designated comrade to share the ups and downs with.
Best case scenario: Find someone who is in a similar situation and agree to be career buddies. When your boss makes you nuts, text them. When you’re ready to quit your job on the spot, call them. When there’s an especially hilarious episode of the sitcom going on, tell them. You two will keep each other sane, honest, and best of all, company. (Also, whoever you live with will greatly appreciate not being the only person who has to listen to your woes.)
4 | MOVE FOR YOUR MIND
Get in a little movement everyday. Notice I didn’t say “exercise.” This is not about dropping a pants size; this is about moving your body enough for it to benefit your brain.
Movement is the easiest, cheapest mood enhancer and stress reliever there is. Can’t make it to the gym? Doesn’t matter. Do jumping jacks in your kitchen, take a walk, or dance it out to whatever weird and wonderful new song Macklemore has out. You don’t even have to do a lot. Just do a little and see how you feel!
5 | HAVE FUN
Do you remember fun? It’s something you did in college, or maybe in your early 20’s?
I know, I know. You’re going to tell me that you have fun now. “I treat myself to hot baths!” you say. “I watch The Mindy Project! Just last week I got a pedicure!”
I’m telling you that doesn’t count. That is not what I’m talking about here. I don’t mean self-care. I don’t mean relaxation. I mean FUN.
Drink 2 more margaritas than you normally would (responsibly). Go do that zip-line you’ve been thinking about. Abandon your significant other for a weekend while you go jet-skiing with your neighbor. Be a little wild, a little free, and live a little harder than you normally do. It will FEEL GOOD, and you need that right now.
These are my tips. How do you manage stress when your job bums you out?