Inevitably at the start of each year, a list is published featuring the country’s most stressful jobs. Topping the list? Public relations executive.
And PR pros are not alone. A 2019 Gallup poll revealed that a whopping 94 percent of all Americans feel workplace stress and, among them, those aged 30-49 feel the most anxiety of any age group. (Personally, I would love to meet the 6 percent who feel no stress!)
We work in an environment with high expectations, competing priorities and never enough time to do everything on our to-do lists. It’s no wonder so many of us experience workplace stress. But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to overtake your day. From shifting your mindset to resetting the way you experience the world, there are many tricks to destress so you can attack the day in a productive way.
Here are five things you can do to step into 2020 on a good foot:
1. Start your day with something that makes you feel good
Whether it’s getting up early to make a spin class, throwing a ball and watching your dog gleefully chase after it, listening to beautiful music or engaging with your partner or kids about what they’re excited to do for the day, make the decision to start your day with at least one thing that makes you happy. And, yes, it sometimes is a decision because it may not naturally happen on its own. When you choose joy, it makes all the difference.
2. Embrace the unexpected throughout the day
Every team member at my agency must come up with a creative way to define what bravery is (our guiding principle) and their unique interpretation is printed on their business card. For me, being brave is about embracing the unexpected because it means you can handle anything that comes your way and treat it as a positive experience or learning moment. Embracing the unexpected can always extend beyond the workday – sometimes an unexpected surprise can come in the form of stumbling upon a thoughtful flower arrangement at a bodega on your walk to work or serendipitously sitting next to your next client on an airplane.
3. Check in on your feelings—then speak to yourself with kindness
If a friend experiences a setback, you would never tell them that one moment defines who they are—so why would you do that to yourself? Throughout the day, take a moment to ask yourself how you’re feeling and be conscious of that feeling. Are you stressed? Happy? Sad? Any answer is acceptable. When you are conscious of how you’re feeling, what would you then say to a friend feeling that way? Now try speaking to yourself in the same way.
4. Review your calendar—set priorities and intentions for the day
One of the cosmic jokes of being in public relations is that we never have true control of our day. Breaking news: team challenges and shifting client priorities can blow up even the most well-crafted, scheduled task list. Instead, try to break up your day into what matters most and let that guide your decisions on what meetings to take, emails to write and tasks to delegate or delay. Then, set an intention on what you’d like to accomplish and start tackling tasks to achieve each goal one by one.5
5. Give yourself permission to end your day
This may be one of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever received. We can always work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but it doesn’t mean we should or that it would be productive. It’s usually better to take stock of what you’ve done for the day, accept what you’ve achieved, and give yourself the okay to end your day and spend time with friends and loved ones or in reflection. You’ll come back the next day refreshed from taking a break and ready to start the day with a new perspective and purpose.
These are tips that I’ve found to be successful in managing my work day and I hope they work for you. However, I encourage you to find your own way to experience joy and less stress in 2020.