Nancy Hightshoe


Stress is no stranger to professionals in the meeting planning industry. High achievers accept it as part of the career path. Stress is like a little whirlwind inside you demanding to burst out. It will find an outlet - whether for better or for worse is often up to you.

Not all stress is harmful. Eustress, or positive stress, arises from stimulating situations. It gives fire fighters and police officers the adrenaline surge to cope with emergencies. It can galvanize a Picasso or a Lincoln or a Madame Curie. It can galvanize you.

Negative stress, on the other hand, arises from situations that burden or threaten you without offering any obvious solutions. Unharnessed, it can deplete you.

Devitalizing stress is commonly caused by lack of control over events and people. You must meet the ever-changing needs of meeting participants and the high expectations of the executives to whom you report. You are frequently at the mercy of others' competence. In an already demanding day, last-minute changes and other people's errors can find you swinging from the chandelier.

Doctors maintain that up to 80% of office visits are stress-related. The body's pain is a physical reaction to the mind's overload.

Stress is mentally and emotionally debilitating as well. It may show up as lack of joy, burnout, inappropriate anger or impatience, feeling overwhelmed and being accident-prone.

What can you do about stress? If you can't change the situation, you can change the way you deal with it.


TO INCREASE YOUR RESISTANCE TO NEGATIVE STRESS, give yourself the gift of some private, uninterrupted time. A walk in the park is a good place to start. BEWARE: do not sandwich this time in between meetings! That's part of the problem. Sit on a hillside and watch the world go by, look for cloud shapes like you did as a kid, think about what really matters to you.

Take care of your body. Eat well-balanced meals. Breathe deeply! Lack of oxygen can make you feel tired and run down. When things get a little "crazy," take exercise breaks.


TO TURN NEGATIVE STRESS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE, set specific goals that will realize the vision you have for your organization. Focus your energies on those goals. Discipline yourself to do what needs to be done. Empower and teach others to perform at a dynamite level! Eliminate tasks that do not support your vision.

Communicate with coworkers. Identify and get control of problems by brainstorming.

When you're feeling the strain, remove yourself from the source of stress. If you can't get away physically, take a step back mentally and assess the situation. If it seems overwhelming, break it down into manageable parts. Visualize yourself successfully dealing with each part.

Coping with acute stress is part of surviving in a rough and tumble business world. Coping successfully with stress can enable you to turn a negative, bare-survival situation into a positive, fruitful one. Use stress to stimulate your energy and creativity.

The next time you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. Then start climbing to the top!

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