Keep Calm and Rest On:Why beating stress is important for your professional success


Ah, how stressful it is to be a young professional these days!

At least that’s what many people – parents, older professionals, peers, friends – say to those currently working towards degrees and diplomas. Often, fear comes from job searching, biting off more than we can chew, and saying ‘yes’ to everything. People end up working too hard, not giving themselves enough credit, and not taking the time to recharge.

“People forget how important it is to detach themselves from the action on a regular basis…and take breaks,” says Julia Foy, an instructor at one of the most competitive journalism programs in Canada. The British Columbia Institute of Technology boasts a full-time program that only accepts about 45 students each year. Those students are put through rigorous training: close to three years’ worth of knowledge compressed into about two years’ of instruction. Students learn the fundamentals of news writing, and work – for the majority of the program – on the school’s television and fully licensed radio program. Many of the students go on to find jobs while they’re in the program, because of their high skill sets. There is a price for some, though: combine a heavy workload with the worries of trying to find a job, and Foy says you have students that don’t know how to properly rest and take care of themselves.
“[In journalism] we’re constantly bombarded. We’re encouraged to seek out more information. Being able to detach and turn off phones, for instance, on a regular basis – I think is a really good thing to do. Something as simple as being hydrated and eating regularly. These are not only things that are feeding your body physically, but emotionally.”

It’s an issue many young professionals face. You don’t have to be studying to become a journalist or reporter to be feeling the pressure. Aside from working as an instructor at BCIT, Foy is a journalist for Global BC – and a mom to not only grown kids, but a new puppy. Though she’s encouraged students to take breaks, she’s been guilty of straying from her own advice.

“I find for journalists – like many others in high stress jobs – the most difficult time for you is when you’re trying to go to sleep. The doctors have all told us to turn the blue screens off before I go to bed. But I end up checking Twitter right before bed – which is not so good, even if it’s just for five minutes. We need to unplug. To let our minds and bodies relax.”

But what about those who find some of the more common ways to de-stress aren’t enough? Foy says one of the best parts of her career is researching and learning about new ways to do things. In one case, that included learning about an exercise that she says helps to combat stress.

“I explored a really interesting treatment that came out of the United States from a trauma doctor. He’s been all around the world working with people that have gone through stressful circumstances – like natural disasters.” The practice, called Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, or TRE for short, involves triggering a mechanism in the body that is seen easily in children and animals. Foy has covered the relatively new practice – developed by Dr. David Berceli – for TV stories, and has tried it herself.

“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve done it myself and it helps with sleeping.”

The practice involves the patient lying down on the floor or propping one’s self against a wall, then, using specific exercises (there are actually exercises catering to specific needs, from helping those who can’t sleep to those suffering from PTSD), the body shakes out the stress, and rebalances.

Regardless of how you choose to de-stress, Foy says it’s important to find something that’s right for you.

“I do think that for many years – particularly when I had small children – I was able to job share with another woman who had small children. We knew that we were always at our best, at our 110% when we showed up for work. And we both believed that was because we had balance in our life. We had other hobbies, we got out more, we were in touch with family. You don’t want to be consumed by the business, by the competition. I would encourage anyone who wants to get into any business, and get completely involved, you must take time to address your physical health and emotional health.”

And the effects of not doing that aren’t native to only the journalism business.

“I’ve seen so much burn out. People in the business for three, four, five years – and they burn out. They lose their joy; their spirit. Never forget you need to take care of you. There may be a lot of pressures on you…but you need to take care of you.

If you’re looking to start any kind of exercise program, talk with your doctor or a fitness expert before diving in.

If you’re interested in learning more about TRE, you can click here.

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