Understanding our clients businesses

HOW TO COPE WITH A STRESSFUL JOB

I recently stumbled upon the hit parade of most stressful jobs of 2018. The top 4 consists – not surprisingly – of various jobs that are life endangering for either the people who do the job, or those they are working for. Here’s the top 4:

#1 Enlisted Military Personnel. 

#2 Firefighters. 

#3 Airline Pilots. 

#4 Police Officers.

Interestingly enough in fifth position is a job we are all too familiar with: Event Coordinator. Here we go. 🙂

Imagine, the only non life threatening job in the top 5 is a job in events? According to the listmakers this position is mainly due to the fact that strict and regular deadlines are a pressing concern for those who work as Event Coordinators and thus an evident cause of stress. Click here to check out the list published by Careercast.

Now obviously I wasn’t just googling for the most stressful jobs in the world. In the last few years I have been confronted with numerous close friends that have encountered very intense or severe burnouts that were clearly work related. And more recently at our agency a number of people have been confronted with severe stress symptoms.  

My associate – Steven De Beukeleer – and myself pride ourselves in creating a work environment that allows people to find a balance between work and personal life, but unfortunately that’s not always a guarantee. Steven – funnily enough – reassures our team members in stressful periods by quoting “we’re not saving any lives here”, but nevertheless it seems some colleagues bring their own body in danger by the job they are doing. I myself have been spared of that much stress impact so far, and I started wondering how our team handles stress situations in our business and how we keep it from affecting our personal lives. It seems a lot of the habits we have acquired over the years are not that unique to counter stress. You can find a great deal of remedies online, but we figured me might as well share what we do to keep our lives stress free. 

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There are two main ways to reduce event related stress:

NUMBER ONE: Keeping the stress about the event that needs to be organized as low as possible.

In general, event stress seems to be caused by uncertainty about systematically delivering high standard events. This is never an easy task as every situation is different and you are bound to run into unexpected situations when organizing an event. The only way to cope is to make sure everything you can have under control has been over-prepared and runs smoothly. In case of situations that need your attention, you need to make sure all the standard stuff runs automatically. We won’t go into detail how to do this – call us and we’ll do this for you. 🙂 

NUMBER TWO: Keeping your head stress-free when you are not working.

This seems more difficult as the tools are much more varied and unlike your production book, controlling your mind is much more difficult. As an agency we are a group of very different people and we all have our own tips, tricks and views on how to cope with stress. We decided to list up some general themes and give some personal tips regarding the subject. Ready? Set. Go! 

Disconnect the digital tools

We think that in this day and age, everyone will agree disconnecting is a good thing. We all know that reading that email before going to bed will not help. Carve out time blocks for work when it’s ok to check your mails, what’s app, messenger, text, voicemails. And pride yourself for not checking them when you’re enjoying time off.

Bernard: When I’m not in production mode, you can find my phone charging in silent by 21h in a place where I can’t see it. 

Steven: I’m not exactly the world champion in ignoring or disconnecting my digital tools 😉

Ines: Last holiday my phone died at the beginning of the trip. Best escape ever. 🙂

Disconnect with analog tools

We believe it’s important to really clear your head when you’re not working. For example, by reading a good book, watch a movie or lose yourself in a new series. 

Bernard: The last book I read was ‘De avond is ongemak’ by Marieke Lukas Rijneveld. Definitely not for the fainthearted. Recently I also started watching The Handmaid’s Tale. 

Bénédicte: The last series that got me totally hooked was Peaky Blinders. 

Steven: Grow your own vegetables and plants. Do it! It’s a lot more fun than you’d expect!

Disconnect by being active

Go to the gym, ride a bike, go running. Do it with good friends and the effect is double.

Bernard: I like biking around Brussels or to work.

Steven: I like to go running, biking to work or play a round of golf with good friends.

Ines: For a run I go to Josaphatpark. Wish I could bike more in Brussels without being afraid to die.

Disconnect by going outside

Go outside. Take a walk, go hiking, go read in a park.

Bernard: I like to walk around Koning Boudewijn Park.

Bénédicte: I walk to and from work everyday. I even catch myself taking a detour every once and while when I really need to clear my head. 

Ines: Everyday, Béné and I walk to Café Velvet for our cappuccino’s. Expensive walk though.

Steven: Meh. Walking goes too slow.

Set limits towards colleagues and clients

Remember that supplier, client or project manager that is always off on Wednesday? Once you know, it becomes part of the scenery. When everybody knows you are available 24/7, you will be bothered with silly work related questions 24/7. It’s ok to ‘not be available’ as long as everybody is informed. It’s not ok to ‘not be available’ if everybody is sure you must be reported missing if you don’t answer your phone.

Steven: I love using the legendary Out Of Office Generator

Bernard: “I am currently not available” is something some of my colleagues or clients have heard from time to time. 🙂

Disconnect by being social

Go out, see people you like. Make time to eat, drink and enjoy each other’s company.

Bernard: Last restaurant I went to with a friend was Baracca in Leuven. 

Steven: I love going on weekend trips with friends, go skiing with the boys and every last Thursday of the month I have drinks with the Sunday League veterans.

Bénédicte: I really enjoy having coffee breaks during stressful weeks. Grabbing a cappuccino with Ines at our local barista place is a great way to zone out for a minute and reload our batteries.

InesOrdering pidé and ayran in Saint-Josse. Afterwards grabbing a beer in Schaarbeek or the center.

Try relaxation

There are numerous ways to seek professional relaxation: do yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Millions of people around the world have found a better balance by practicing these – why not you? Try breathing exercises, Youtube is the cave of Alibaba for breathing.

If you want to start small try one of the apps that help you relax.

Steven: Headspace

Bernard: Calm, I like the sound of the rain but I don’t use it 😉

Zone out by listening to music

Music can be a great stress reliever or can get you pumped for getting through those days that seem to go on forever. At our office we’re always having our Spotify playlists ready for the right occasion. Here are our go to tunes at the moment: 

Steven: ‘I am the one and only’ by Chesney Hawkes

Ines: To chillax, I refer to Benny’s Chill Mix. Not the ‘Botsauto Kermis Remix’ of Steven. To give myself courage, I sing the lyrics of ‘I will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor.

Bénédicte: My legendary Chill Mix does wonders. (Exhibit A ^^ )

Bernard: Bill Callahan, Ludovico Einaudi, Gainsbourg (Serge & Charlotte) and Charlotte de Witte (Soundcloud mixes)

 

Get enough sleep

It’s ok to crawl into bed at 21h every now and then, you will feel the difference the next day. No judgement here.

Bernard: Check

Steven: Check

Bénédicte: Never going to happen.

Go talk to someone

Talking about what’s driving you is always a good idea. Talk to friends, fools and family or to somebody who is really good at listening, a professional perhaps?

Bernard: Check

Steven: Check

Ines: Wish we had a dog (hint)

Bénédicte: An office dog would definitely help. (hint hint)