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Beatrice L. Logan and Annie H. Turman, Georgia State University
Is your job a source of stress in your life? Do you feel overworked and unappreciated? Do you feel irritable about minor things at work, or need a huge effort to complete the simplest tasks? Does it seem like you are always geared up, need to hurry up, catch up, or shut up? Are you fed up? If you answered yes to these questions, you could be the victim of too much stress.

In the advisement profession, seldom a day passes in which someone doesn’t make a stress-related comment, such as “I’m burned out,” or “I’m under too much stress.” While few of us, if asked, can provide a formal definition of stress, most are all too familiar with how it feels. Simply stated, stress is the physical and emotional condition felt when we are excited, face change, feel powerless, or feel threatened.

Let's face it, everyone gets stressed out, but it doesn't have to take over our lives. Can we eliminate job stressors? No, --and it’s a good thing we can’t. A certain amount of stress is required in our lives to motivate us to reach new levels of performance. What we can do is recognize that we have the power to choose our actions.

We don't have to become upset, tense, or irritable. These reactions often make situations worse, and can have harmful effects. Choose to positively manage stressful situations. Although the choice may be different depending on the situation, realize that we can control our reactions.

Listed below are some stress management techniques that can help minimize the negative effects of stress. Since no single technique is ideal for every situation, try each technique, deciding which is the best to manage the stress of a particular circumstance. Realize that the success of a technique is determined by the commitment to change and the regularity with which the method if practiced.

Daily Reflection.  Each day is a special gift, an opportunity to serve and be a catalyst for change. To create a link between your spirituality and the job, start each day with 15 minutes of quiet reflection time. Visualize a positive day and go forth with an unrelenting commitment to exercise a positive attitude, fairness, patience, honesty, and integrity.

Deep Breathing. Sitting upright, close your eyes, relax and focus your mind on an object. Inhale slowly through your nose; hold your breath and count to eight. As you exhale slowly through your mouth, repeat 'Re---LAX “ four times.

Imagery. Close your eyes. Imagine a calm, beautiful scene. Picture yourself at that location. Repeat affirmative phrases.

Neck Rolls. Sitting erect with your shoulders level let your chin drop forward. Slowly roll your head in a full circle. Repeat five times, alternating directions.

Self-Massage. Tightly cup your hands and apply firm circular strokes to your forehead, cheeks, neck, shoulder and other body areas that are tense.

Humor. Laughter is FIRST AID for the soul. You cannot laugh and hold tension at the same time. Whatever makes you laugh, cultivate it. Start a personal humor collection file of your favorite comic strips, jokes, e-mails, etc.

Change Your Attitude. What messages are you sending to yourself? Some stress comes from negative thoughts — grudges, hurt, and anger. Look on the bright side and lighten your load. Repeat affirmations like, ' I am filled with inner peace.”

Shred List. Write down names of people, worries, pressures and concerns that contribute to your stress. When your list is complete, S-H-R-E-D it.

Manage Your Time. In descending order of importance, make a list of the things you need to do each day. Complete each task, one at a time. Learn to set limits for yourself and say 'no' to others. At the end of each day, reflect on your accomplishments, not the unfinished tasks.

Talk It Out. You do not have to cope alone. Sometimes just talking about concerns can help put them into perspective. Find an objective person whom you trust and vent your worries and frustrations.

Conclusion

Stress is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to make you tense, irritable, upset, and unhappy. You have the choice to GET BETTER or BITTER. Be productive, GET BETTER! Make the commitment to manage stress and enhance your health and happiness.

For additional stress management techniques, attend the What’s an Advisor to Do? Coping with Job Stressors session at the NACADA National Conference in Dallas.

Beatrice L. Logan & Annie H. Turman
Georgia State University
blogan@gsu.edu & sacaht@langate.gsu.edu

Suggested Reading

Carlson, Richard. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. New York: Hyperion, 1997.

Hill, Napoleon, and W. Clement Stone. Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Johnson, Spencer. Who Moved My Cheese, New York: G. P. Pitman’s Son, 1998.

Cite this article using APA style as: Logan, B. & Turman, A. (2003, September). Get better not bitter! Academic Advising Today, 26(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]

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