Stress Management for Writers
Stress is a fairly common part of the human experience. Every day, we’re faced with all kinds of decisions that stress us out, from choosing what to buy at the supermarket to meeting our daily deadlines. For anyone in a creative field, this stress is often magnified since our jobs essentially require us to craft amazing things out of nothing.
As a writer, I’ve often found myself facing writer’s block (a huge stressor). And over the years, despite my belief that gaining experience would help me keep the stress levels down, I became increasingly anxious at the thought of having to fill the blank page. So I built up a list of tools to help me keep my stress levels down and my creativity flowing…
And I’d like to share them with all stressed out, anxious, nervous and frazzled writers. 🙂
Talk yourself down One of the things I love about Wix is that it’s a fast-paced environment. Turnaround times are quick, there’s always a meeting to rush to and everyone is passionate about what they do. But this can lead to stress and sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in panic and anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle that can spin faster and faster, often gaining speed. So how do we slow it down? My solution? I talk to myself. Practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) have shown that there’s a key link between emotion and language. The way we form word patterns in our brains causes us to feel a certain way. It stands to reason then that if you create a new thought pattern in your brain with the words you speak (even if they’re not out loud), you can change the way you feel. So stay positive, think clearly and tell yourself how to handle a situation when you feel your stress levels start to rise.
Make lists One of the problems content writers at Wix face is that we work on a lot of different projects at the same time. Some people are amazing at context switching. I’m not. When I feel like there’s just too much to do, I make a list of everything I need to work on. I do it with a pen on paper, categorizing my tasks by project type and “micro-chunking,” that is, dividing every item into its smallest, most achievable task. Then, I highlight what’s really urgent and revel in the joy and satisfaction of crossing off my “micro-chunks” as I complete them. Creating a list gives you a visual way to plan out everything you need to do. And crossing off items on that list tells your brain that it’s making progress. This sense of achievement keeps you motivated and, to be honest, it’s kinda fun.
Get up and move Everyone who has ever told you to get up and move at least once an hour was right. Your brain releases cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone,” to help your body deal with the effects of stress. Guess what else releases cortisol? Yup. Exercise. Now, I’m not saying you should do a 10k or commit to twice daily workouts to relieve your stress. However, getting up and out of your chair every hour to stretch or just walk around the office (or block) will get your blood flowing, release cortisol and give you some perspective on those big stressors in your day.
Chuck it in the f**k it bucket (and move on) Unpopular opinion: you can’t get closure on everything. There will be a lot of parts of your day that make you mad. People will put undue amounts of pressure on you. You’ll be faced with a number of tasks you simply can’t get to. One of my personal mantras to deal with daily drama is to simply put aside things that have happened and move on. I think Sean Covey summed it up best in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: You can’t control what other people do, but you can control how you react.
Life is stressful…and that’s okay.
Stress can feel like a set of speakers on full blast. It’s overwhelming, all-encompassing, frustrating and frightening. Sadly, there’s probably no way to stop stress from happening, but with tools like those included here, you can dial down the volume on your “stress speakers,” cool the emotions bubbling inside of you and choose to react in a way that empowers you.
How do you handle writer’s stress? Share your tips below.
By Na'ama Oren, Superverbalist