Vanguardians’ Stress Management Tips

While many find the holiday season to be the most wonderful time of the year, for others it can be full of stress rather than wonder. Between shopping, cooking, attending holiday parties, hosting family and friends, and competing work deadlines, many of us can get overwhelmed and forget to truly enjoy the magic of the season.

Luckily, a few Vanguardians have some top-notch tricks for how they deal with stress at work and at home that you can use to alleviate your own stress this holiday season.

When I am having a particularly hard day, I take my dog for a long, leisurely walk. Most of the time he will do something silly that makes me laugh, or we will run into people who are genuinely excited to meet him, especially little kids. And that has a way of always breaking the tension I am feeling.

—Brittany Vanderpool, Senior Event Manager/Senior Account Manager

I use a technique that I learned from a cognitive behavioral therapist called reframing. Reframing challenges you to look at your situation from a different point of view. We use a similar technique as communications professionals in framing messages for different audiences!

—Carolyn Fearing, Associate Director

Music can be a great mood game changer. Depending on what’s going on or how I’m feeling, I play the most fitting genre of music at a low volume while I work. Playing instrumental music (I recommend George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue) or even popular music (check out Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour) in the background helps me manage my breathing, thus lowering my blood pressure and calming other physical responses to high stress. Also, playing background music helps me focus. As someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder, being able to focus on background music keeps me less distracted, increases my productivity and reduces experiences of stress.

—Crystal Borde, Director

I like to get outside when I’m feeling stressed. Just five minutes of sunshine and your feet firmly on the ground can help put the day’s stresses into perspective.

—Kate Fink, Associate Director

I take a deep, cleansing breath — in through the nose until your chest is full, hold for a second or two, and then out slowly through the nose or mouth. This small moment is enough to center your thoughts and help you take a small break from what’s stressing you out, and it really does make you feel a little calmer. Repeat as needed. Pro tip: Close your eyes while you inhale and exhale.

—Tomás Harmon, Account Manager

Running around with my dog, Tater.

—Tracy Packard Ferrell, Chief Administrative Officer

I like to break down a job/task/assignment into smaller, easier-to-manage chunks. That way I feel less overwhelmed and I can focus better on the work and stay on track to meet deadlines rather than stressing out and getting behind schedule.  

—Lisa Swanberg, Senior Vice President

My stress usually comes from fear of the unknown. I always feel like I’m forgetting something. So, I get organized. I make a list of all the things I need to do for my job (start the blog post draft) and for my personal life (e.g., send my niece her birthday card). If I can see things laid out, I can prioritize them and attack the list much more efficiently. Having it out of my head and on paper helps me feel those items are achievable.

—LeAnne DeFrancesco, Vice President

I usually try to start the day with anywhere from 10 to 12 minutes of total silence … no audio from a digital device, TV, radio … nothing. When I’ve really settled into those few minutes, I try to focus on each breath and be mindful of how my body is feeling. It really helps me release tension and refocus.

—Stephanie Dukes, Associate Director

When I’m feeling stressed, I don’t always feel like going for a run, but I always feel better after I do. And baking cookies is also a good way to de-stress (and share treats that will hopefully help others with their stress as well).

—Wendy Rubin, Editorial Director