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My Top 5 Stress Triggers

8 Mar

The first step to managing stress is recognizing triggers.  Behold, these are the top 5 things that trigger a stress reaction for me:

1.  Bad surprises.  Don’t get me wrong  I love surprises, but I only love good surprises.  The #1 worst feeling for me is when something bad happens unexpectedly.  I prepare for everything so part of the difficulty for me is just wrapping my head around the fact that I didn’t prepare for the scenario.  I get so flustered by the surprise that it hinders my problem solving skills.

2.  Feeling out of control.  While this happened much more frequently at the previous job, it still occurs from time to time at my present job.  There are a million analogies to explain this feeling (the Snowball Effect or Run Away Train).  The biggest challenge for me with this trigger is that the more overwhelmed I get, the most difficult it is for me to shake the stress.

3.  Fear of error.  Not only am I a perfectionist, I am also hypersensitive to the way people view my work.  If my work does not reflect my standards, I am mortified when someone notices an error.  The worst case scenario for me is if my error affects another person in a negative way (Forgetting to book a hotel room for an interviewer, miscalculating the number of people attending an event, etc).

4.  The people who surround me.  If I had a dollar for every time someone told me “Don’t let other people affect you’re mood” I’d be rich.  Unfortunately for me, I have a lot of difficultly separating myself from others’ emotions.  When someone around me is stressed out, I stress out.

5.  Feeling Clueless.  This was my biggest source of stress in my previous job.  This trigger typically manifests itself in situations that are pressing but I don’t know enough about it to solve the problem.

Now that I am more aware of the patterns that trigger stress for me, I can be on the lookout for these scenarios as they occur and before they can trigger stress for me.  Although identifying them triggers isn’t going to solve the problem, it will at least prepare me for a stressful situation.

The next step for me is to reflect on the effects of stress on my life at work and outside of work.  I also want to identify ways that I currently release stress and come up with a few new ways to release stress in the future.


March Topic: Managing Stress

29 Feb

“Pressure is a privilege.”

I have a Love-Hate relationship with this quote.  On one hand, I completely agree that I am lucky to have pressure in my life that forces me to strive for success.  On the other hand, I don’t always feel privileged when I am feeling pressure.

Evan and I spent a night talking about the difference between pressure and stress and the many ways to react to them.  His philosophy is that we are in complete control of our emotional reaction to stress.  I believe that but I’m just not 100% there yet.

This is typically what happens to me under a stressful situation:  Something completely unpredictable happens at work that needs to be resolved immediately.  I go into “problem solving mode” until I resolve the situation.  Typically I become aware of my “stress attack” only after I feel comfortable that the level of stress is subsiding.

Although I work well under pressure, I feel extremely uncomfortable in a high-stress environment.  I can’t figure out how to feel any control over my reaction because I can never identify a “stress attack” until after it’s over.

This is definitely an area of opportunity for me so I’ve come up with a few ways develop my stress management skills.  I have a feeling that one month won’t be enough for me so I may need to bring this topic back in September when work gets super crazy again.

These are the questions I’m going to explore throughout the next week or so.

  • What are my sources of stress?
  • What is the difference between stress and pressure?
  • What triggers stress for me?
  • How do I outwardly show that I am feeling stress?
  • How does stress affect my life outside of work?
  • How does stress affect my performance?

I’m also going to keep a “stress journal” as described on Stress Management: How to Reduce, Prevent, and Cope with Stress.  I found that website pretty easily by Google Searching “Stress Management.”  Sometimes I find these types of websites to be a little cheesy (example: light scented candles – Let’s be honest, scented candles will not be solving my problem) but I think it’s actually worth reading to pull a few good tips out of it.

Before I can tackle any of this, the first step in this process is to learn as much as I can about myself.

Stress Management: because a pool and margarita aren't always available at the office.