6 Ways to Handle a Stressful Job or Internship

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You have classes all morning, scarf down lunch before the staff meeting at 3:00 followed by answering phone calls and emails all afternoon until the fundraising event for your club at 7:00. Suddenly it’s pitch black outside, and as you finally get to sit down on your couch for the first time all day, you can’t help but feel like your work-life balance is completely out of whack. Here are some easy and effective ways to go from overworked, overwhelmed and overloaded to cool, calm and collected in the office.

Any collegiette knows that being a student while holding down a job or internship can lead to extremely jam-packed weeks. Following these six tips can help you alleviate stress, while still excelling at work and tending to your own needs.

When your job or internship has you clocking in way more hours than you signed up for, answering emails from your bed at 1 a.m. and canceling plans with your loved ones last minute, it might be time to stop and take a step back. Follow this easy and effective guide to de-stressing from your crazy job or internship to re-discover your love for your career without sacrificing your personal well-being.

1. Say yes because you want to, not because you’re available

Being the “yes” person at work always makes a great impression, but when you sign up to work whenever you have free time in your schedule, soon you may feel stretched in a million different directions. Instead, next time the boss asks who can take on the extra client they just signed, or stay an hour late to re-file paperwork, consider if it’s a task you’d actually enjoy doing or gain valuable experience from, not just if you’re schedule is open.

2. Space out your productivity

We’ve all been there: You’re making a PowerPoint for your next internship presentation, while trying to answer emails, watch some YouTube videos and stay up to date on you favorite celebrity’s Instagram story. Suddenly three hours have passed and you’ve made two slides. You’re left feeling like you worked all day, but you don’t really have anything to show for it. Instead of making your whole day semi-productive, pick a few hours to really focus on just your work assignment to get it done and then give yourself an hour of full de-stressing and relaxation. When you go to bed that night you’ll feel both accomplished and zen.

3. Rediscover your hobbies

Right now might seem like the worst possible time to add even more to your plate, but rediscovering the activities you’ve put on the backburner to focus on work might just be the break you so need. Whether it’s baking, shopping at farmers’ markets, doing community service or taking your pooch on a hike, finding even an hour on your weekends to dedicate to your passion will allow you to feel like yourself again, and fully recharged once the work week rolls around.

4. Take a technology time-out

Most jobs and internship positions require working on some sort of technology for the majority of the day. To avoid becoming an electronic zombie, try putting down the phone and laptop when you leave the office for the night. When balancing several editorial positions became too much electronic time for senior Kristin Perrone from Siena College, she learned to de-connected when she clocked out. “After coming home from my summer internship this past year, I made a point of hanging out with my family and talking to them rather than going straight to my bed and watching Netflix,” she said. “Your eyes really don’t need more exposure to a screen after a full day’s work.”

5. Consult a trusted work mentor

It’s never a good idea to bash your company or a fellow employee, but talking to someone who’s been in your shoes may give you valuable advice on how to handle all your responsibilities at work. Maybe you’re taking on a job solo that someone else at the office wants to help you with, or not using a certain system that would cut the time you spend on an assignment in half.

6. Walk it out

When it all gets too much and you feel like your head is going to explode, it’s best for you and those around you to just remove yourself from the situation for a bit. Take a 15 minute walk outside on a nice day or even on a different floor of your building to give your brain a break and your body some light exercise. You’ll come back feeling cool as a cucumber.

7. Focus on the bigger picture

When things are getting crazy, sometimes it’s best to take a step back to gain perspective. Cassidy Lawson who earned her Master of Education degree in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University in Virginia, now works at the Career and Academic Planning Office at JMU. From her personal experiences with multiple leadership positions, studies in graduate school and work advising students starting their careers, Cassidy suggests concentrating on the bigger picture. She recommends, “focusing on what you can accomplish and how you can leave your mark in a positive way. You just have to be very intentional about your experience.” Instead of trying to take on every single task at work, spend time figuring out what you’re most passionate about and what skills and experiences you want to gain from your job, and prioritize your time on those projects.

Related: 5 Career Options With Flexible Schedules

Stress is natural part of life and something we all feel from time to time while trying to manage all the commitments that go along with being a collegiette in the workplace. When you’re job becomes too much to bear and is getting in the way of being able to function properly, it may be time to take a step back and re-evaluate how you’re spending your time. Remembering to take time for yourself, ask for help, make a change when needed, and trying these tips, will help reset your work-life balance, making you a happier in the long run.

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JMU alumni making her way into the "real" world. Passion for spending time with my large Italian family, running and eating any and all desserts I can get my hands on.