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Mar 17

When it all turns to custard: stress management

That is a bit dramatic really, but it’s been a challenging week. We have both had a lot going on in our lives outside of work and with a big upcoming project we were starting to get a bit frazzeled. By Wednesday it was taking its toll and both of us were struggling to be productive, feeling frustrated, and definitely overwhelmed…..stress management needed!

When it all turns to custard.. well I guess that’s when you get to show your inner strength!

I (Jo) was reaching a point where my work was suffering as I was unable to prioritise or be effective, my personal relationships were suffering as I was unable to switch off from work and was carrying feelings of frustration into home, and my health and head-space certainly weren’t as good as usual.

My natural inclination was to bottle it all up and soldier on, cross my fingers and hope things would improve, or just ignore the whole thing! But Janine and I have spent quite some time laying strong foundations for our working relationship and among other support structures we have in place, we have created an agreement to come together when we get out of sorts so we can honour each other, honour our working relationship, and move the situation back to a state of grace (and besides, we talk about stress management a lot so we have to do it ourselves!)

In the spirit of this agreement, I emailed Janine to let her know that things were a bit out of sorts and to initiate a conversation – and that afternoon we spoke at length about the bigger picture: what is going on for each of us outside of work, how we are feeling during ‘work time’ and what we would each suggest to resolve the challenges.

We brainstormed creative solutions, spoke openly about our hopes and fears for the conversation and for moving beyond our current situation, and had a few laughs. Coming out of the chat we both felt relieved, and had gained a sense of clarity about what our current challenges are and how we can better manage ourselves and our working styles to pre-empt the same situation arising again next week.

Our steps towards stress management

So – partly to keep myself accountable for following through and partly cos I wanted to share our learnings with others, here are the key’s to our ability to move forward:

  • The simple act of coming together and having the conversation was the biggest factor in relieving feelings of frustration, and being open with each other meant we could better understand each others’ situation and challenges.
  • We both agreed that it was important to gain some perspective on our work situation – particularly in light of our upcoming event – so have decided to each have this coming weekend completely off work, and away from the computer!
  • We re-framed our thinking about our upcoming project / event and have relieved pressure we hadn’t realised we were placing on ourselves. This has allowed us both to relax and enjoy the process rather than feeling caught up in creating perfection!
  • We have each written an affirmation for ourselves so we can develop and maintain a positive and relaxed mindset regarding our work and our event – and even after 1 ½ days of repeating my mantra (“planning our event flows easily and is enjoyable”) I feel much more relaxed as I sit down to work and can maintain much better perspective.

Sometimes it’s not easy to admit that I’m not bullet-proof and that pressure can get to me – but hopefully it’s all part of the journey of being a successful and conscious business woman.

Your tips for stress management:

I’d love to hear your solutions – how do you address these challenging situations and what works best for you?


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