If you have signed yourself up to work in an environment that is “intense,” you better have some outlets to relieve stress. I love tight deadlines, racing against a clock and feeling the need for speed, but as stressful as my job at POPSUGAR can get, I am not performing open heart surgery.
When you do work in an intense job, it’s essential to keep things in perspective. Even if you work in an ER or another situation where lives depend on you, then these tips still apply! Here are some ways to stay happy while working under extreme pressure:
1. Clear your head
No matter how busy you are, you need some time to start fresh, take a break and not confuse yourself with all the clutter. For me, after I look at my email first thing in the morning, I take a long shower. This allows me to start thinking about how to prioritize my day and what to tackle first. The shower works for me, but for others it’s a morning workout or meditation or even walking your dog. Find time every day to block out the noise as much as you can.
If your day intensifies as it goes on, find at least 5 minutes to break away: a walk outside, a chat with a co-worker in the kitchen while having a snack or a phone call to your mom or a friend. Even though you may not be able to clear your head completely, the distraction from the stress can help you reset your day.
2. Get your rest
Sleep is a must. Your body needs to regenerate and recharge. If you are tired and cranky, you’re likely to make mistakes, be rude to others and simply not be able to function at 100%. Although some people pride themselves on lack of sleep, studies show how important sleep is for better health and wellness. The more you can let the mind rest, the smarter you can be. If you are in a job with an intense schedule, make sure to build in time off or research your rights so you don’t burn out before it’s too late.
3. Create your crew
When you work hard, you need to play hard too. This means finding your social circle that allows you to really enjoy that downtime. You can have this crew at work with others who are under the same stress, as well as outside buddies with whom you can completely leave work behind and clear your head from the intensity of it all. It doesn’t need to be a large crew, just a few key people who you can count on for a fun or relaxing time depending on your needs come Friday.
I like to end my week with dinner and a movie. After a tiring week at work and putting the kids to bed each night, I reward myself with a night out with friends and my husband, Brian. I probably go to bed earlier on Friday than any other night of the week.
4. Celebrate wins big and small
In a crazy fast-paced job, sometimes we forget to stop and celebrate small accomplishments. The big ones are usually more noticeable, so we see those high fives and gold stars, but we shouldn’t forget to cheer on the small successes, too. Every day try to set some attainable goals so you don’t feel as stressed. Eventually you will push yourself harder and will continue to grow and challenge yourself more.
5. Celebrate others!
As important as it is to recognize yourself, sharing the love and cheerleading others will go a long way with co-workers who are working as crazy-hard as you are. Even a smile can help take the weight off of each other’s shoulders. Most of you want the same end goal, so helping each other get through the tough times is way more fun than bitching about the late nights and un-resourced needs.
Many of us thrive under pressure. It can be fun, and we learn a lot about ourselves and get excited for a victory. However, it’s not for everyone. For those who can’t enjoy the wins amid the stress, find time to clear your head and figure out what you do like about the job. If in the end, you think need a more zen environment, don’t be afraid to seek out a similar position in a different environment that won’t break you.
Lisa Sugar is the founder and president of POPSUGAR, a global media and technology company. Her new book, Power Your Happy: Work Hard, Play Nice, and Build Your Dream Life, is available at booksellers everywhere September 20.