A personal approach to managing stress in the workplace and job search
While stress is a universal fact of life, it can be detrimental to health and happiness and a particular burden for those in career transition.
Stephanie Legatos has over 20 years of experience in career and employment coaching. As co-owner of Be Well Partners in Topsfield, Mass., Legatos helps people access and build the confidence, tools and resources they need to create resilience and keep their career/job search going.
In her upcoming PDC workshop, Legatos will teach participants how to manage stress effectively, enhancing the ability to be both present and productive in the workplace or while job hunting. She talks here about her interests and expertise and her upcoming course for PDC.
Q: What in your background and training has helped you develop your stress management tips and techniques?
Stephanie Legatos: Since the mid-1990s when I began coaching people who were in career transition due to layoffs, I saw that stress and how one managed it made a difference in people’s ability to hang in there with the ups and downs of securing new employment. Also, through my own experience, particularly in a position I held in the early to mid 2000s, I began to more acutely be aware of the multitude of demands, the changing priorities and the huge expectations that existed in the workplace. It seemed the more you did, the more work there was. And the more you were flexible about your boundaries – and didn’t make personal wellness a priority or even a factor – the more it was diminished. It was at that time that I began exploring Buddhism and meditation.
Q: What makes your seminar different from other ways of learning about stress management?
Legatos: This seminar goes well beyond “learning about” stress management. It is highly experiential with personal application throughout: Participants will clearly understand their own specific stressors in four key areas: body (somatic), emotions, spiritual/social and thinking. This helps each person become much more aware of their stress triggers when they start. And we will practice a minimum of five techniques so everyone leaves with free, easy-to-implement stress management practices that take very little time.
Q: Who will benefit from your seminar and why is it important to acknowledge and manage stress?
Legatos: Anyone can benefit – unemployed or employed. We have so much coming at us all the time. We may know about some stress management techniques – and even practice them, sometimes or a lot – yet there will be times when we are thrown off center. There may be new tips and approaches, or at the least an opportunity to remember and re-acknowledge the importance of taking care of oneself. Stress, when not addressed, has been linked to major health conditions (e.g., strokes, heart disease, obesity), as well as reducing resiliency, reducing the quality of life and increasing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and disempowerment.
Q: What sources of stress do you hear the most about from class attendees?
Legatos: Lack of or poor communication (whether internal to organizations or from prospective employers and networking contacts when job searching); increasing workplace demands often due to reduction in staffing.
Q: How can job seekers benefit from your class?
Legatos: Job seekers will learn strategies for managing any and all of the stress and pressures that can accompany a job search: anxiety about getting re-employed quickly, financial pressures, family expectations, societal expectations. Managing your own stress allow you to meet changing circumstances and disappointments with greater ease and resilience.
Q: Can you share a story from someone facing a challenge and how one of your recommendations helped?
Legatos: A current client has been reluctant to network. She feels “less than” since she’s unemployed (actually, doing contract work). She’s in a state of what I call “anticipatory rejection.” On the phone, I asked her to put her hands on her heart and just breath (we intentionally breathed together). I gently guided her to remember previous times when she successfully made new networking contacts and she found employment. And to remember that she has been OK, and will be OK. This allowed her to regain inner balance, acknowledge that there most likely would be some “rejection,” and that she has always had a reservoir of drive, enthusiasm and focus. She was then able to begin networking on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Q: What will people get from your course at PDC?
Legatos: In addition to exposure to and practice with diverse approaches drawn from stress management, resilience, mindfulness and Positive Psychology, they will take a resilience assessment to identify their strengths and resilience capacity in 12 factors/components.
Q: What is one comment that you have gotten from a past attendee that is most significant to you?
Legatos: One that comes to mind is that I create a safe environment within which to explore, and that I synthesize activities that make things relevant, practical and fun.
“Stress Management: For the Workplace, the Job Search, the Home” will be taught on Friday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to noon at Career Source Career Center, 186 Alewife Brook Parkway, 3rd Floor, Cambridge. Cost is $60 ($55 + $5 materials fee). For information or to register, visit www.pdcboston.org.
Victoria Carter, after a career as an actuary, is reinventing herself as an economic evaluator of social programs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.