2019 Conference

Avoid the Burnout: How to Deal with Stress Physically, Emotionally, and Mentally at Work (#TEA8)

First-time High Ed Web presenter Karli Champ started off her session with this quote:

“This is a rambling pep talk. We are all awesome, and we’re going to focus on ourselves for the next hour.”

As the backchannel shows — one tweet called her session a “virtual group hug” — she succeeded in pepping up her audience.

Before diving into her session, Karli oriented us back to the office with a video she made of her own office. This clip featured various co-workers asking questions or making requests — one by one, a coworker popped up, with the questions overlapping, resulting in chaos… it was a brilliant demonstration of how we all might feel from time to time. Overwhelmed. 

Karli passed out a worksheet before the session started and, throughout her presentation, we filled things in as she moved from one topic to the next. (Not only was this session informative and beneficial, but it was also organized and so thoughtfully planned.)

She talked about two forms of stress: acute survival stress and chronic stress. The latter, she explained, is when our bodies aren’t in *actual* danger, but our bodies misperceive it as such.

Karli then talked about three types of stressors: ideas, people and situations. She took us through what each of these might cause stress and then gave tips on how to rethink things as we are experiencing them:

  • Ideas are neutral
  • People are complex
  • Situations are opportunities

For example, if a certain person stresses us out, she suggests: “Think of that ‘problem person’ in softer terms. It will help you moving forward as you interact with them in the future.” She used an example of an interaction with a professor on her campus; Karli wasn’t having much luck communicating with the person or in meeting some project timelines.

The two met in person and, when that happened, Karli’s perception shifted a bit. “I became inspired by all of the hard work she did, ” she explained. So, sometimes, working together takes empathy for each other’s efforts. 

Karli’s presentation ended with a group activity that allowed attendees to get to know each other better as well as end things on an inspirational note (by giving a personal note to the person you’d paired up with as well as one you wrote to yourself.)

Avoid the Burnout was a session anyone who works in a knowledge-based job can appreciate. Please visit her slides or review the recording of the session.

IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/Ana. C

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By Donna Talarico

Donna Talarico, a Red-Stapler-winning HighEdWeb presenter and volunteer editor for Link, is an independent writer and content strategist. She is the marketing columnist for Wiley's Recruiting and Retaining Adult Learners, and her work has also been published in CASE Currents, The Guardian Higher Education Network, and elsewhere. From 2010 to 2015, she told the Elizabethtown College story as part of an award-winning marketing and communications team. Always a storyteller, before higher ed she worked in print and broadcast media, and for a leading eCommerce company. She is the founder and publisher of Hippocampus Magazine, a bimonthly creative nonfiction journal and small press. She loves road trips, board games, greasy spoon diners, and words.