We all have aspects of our job that make us unravel. But when high stress is the norm with your job, you develop some pretty effective coping mechanisms. Consider these secrets for stress management from Columbus-area professionals who understand what it takes to maintain grace under pressure.
Occupation: Director of Bartholomew County Emergency Management
Traditionally, how have you handled stress? I used to try to get out of it, but I was never very successful.
What have you learned over the years? You can’t ignore stress.
How do you handle intense situations on the job? Divide and conquer. Assign pieces of the situation to others, and it alleviates stress. Even-out the task so you aren’t totally overwhelmed.
How do you de-stress at work? The big thing is the old tricks, such as breathing slowly. I’ve always got the radio on.
How do you unwind? I really enjoy home-improvement projects. If I feel a little stressed at home, I put on music and read a good magazine or book.
Mary Ellen Anable
Occupation: Executive director for the local chapter of The American Red Cross
Hours per week: About 50 hours.
How do you handle stress throughout the day? I pray. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to a better understanding of what’s really worth stressing about and what isn’t. I can be stressed out about something but, in the end, all I can do is prepare for it the best that I can, and whatever is going to happen is going to happen.
How do you de-stress at home? I walk. I probably walk at least six nights a week.
Advice: Lower your expectations a bit. It may sound negative in a way, but for me it’s about being more realistic.
Occupation: Firefighter and paramedic
A typical shift: 24 hours
Main stressors on the job: The amount of sleep you sometimes don’t get, and taking stress home with you.
How do you avoid taking stress home? We are a big family here, I can go to anyone and confide in them. And, a lot of times, they’ve been through something similar, and they’ll say, “This worked for me, so maybe it’ll work for you.”
How important is stress management for you? As a patient-care provider, I can’t afford to have a bad day and project that on the community. I have to be on my game all the time.
Advice: Talk and get it out in the open. The more you hold it in, the more it’s going to build and grow, and you don’t want that.
Occupation: Chief of police
Typical shift: 10 hours. Depending on the day, it can go 14 or so.
Biggest on-the-job stressor: I’m expected to know everything that is going on in the city. And handling personnel issues.
What does that involve? Keeping track of what everyone is doing, handling requests for public appearances, etc ... If there’s a crime spree in town, making sure our resources are deployed immediately. As soon as one issue is settled, there’s another one that develops.
How do you relax away from work? Spend time with my wife and kids. I like to get out of town. It’s nice to go where people don’t know you; you can relax a bit and have some fun.
Brooke Finke Case
What’s the most difficult thing about your job? It’s hard not taking stuff home, either physically, as in taking home files to finish, or taking home my concerns.
Main stressor on the job: Trying to make sure that I care for every client the same way and give the same attention and time that I gave each one before.
How do you relax at home? I do a lot of reading. I am a big scrapbooker. I do Bible study, and that probably is a bigger help to me than anything.
What’s your vice? My biggest crutch is my Burger King chocolate iced coffee.
How do you de-stress on the job? Every once in a while, I’ll just sit in the chair, put the office cat on my lap, lean back and shut my eyes for a few minutes. That helps me wind down.
Advice: Look at where you spend your time and money and evaluate where you’re spending the most. Is that where you really want to spend it?
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