I still remember the day like it was yesterday. Six years ago, I visited my hairstylist to get highlights and the next thing I know she said I had three large bald (yes, bald) spots hiding beneath my long, elbow-length hair. I freaked out, snapping pics and texting my newlywed husband. I quickly made an appointment with a dermatologist and found out I had alopecia brought on by stress! (Stress from a job I thought I’d love.) The treatment: several steroid shots every two weeks into each bald spot! All because of stress.

This was not the first time I’d been stressed. A few years prior, I broke out in hives all over my body when I was stressed. Recently, my husband and I went through the process of purchasing a home, remodeling and moving, and I gained a bunch of weight because I’m an emotional eater who eats when I’m stressed.

The thing is that stress doesn’t just affect you. It also affects your relationships. Find yourself snapping at a friend or loved one? Extra tired and cranky with a colleague? Withdrawing from your usual activities with friends? Little by little, that could be stress chipping away at your psyche and well-being.

7 steps to manage stress

  1. Accept and acknowledge that what you’re feeling is OK. You are not a robot. You’re a human being who feels.
  2. Talk. People feel like if they vent they will be seen as weak or lacking capabilities to manage their issues. That couldn’t be further from the truth and come on, you know you are a beast when you let your anger bottle up!
  3. Get up. Don’t give up. Stretch. Go for a walk. Take five deep breaths in and out. Hug your dog or cat. Read a magazine. Watch something that reminds you of simpler times, like “Saved By the Bell.”
  4. Find your happy place and your balance. You gotta do this now in your twenties, because life only gets more stressful and demanding.
  5. Ask for help. Delegate when you can.
  6. Plan something fun to look forward to switch your brain back to “fun mode.” It could be something as simple as a quick visit to a museum, seeing your favorite band perform, or a vacation!
  7. Ask for more help. If you’re finding yourself unhappy more than you are happy, then it may be time to speak to a professional counselor. Many organizations have an Employee Assistance Program where you can speak to a counselor in a confidential manner, and now with the help of technology, you don’t even have to go anywhere! (I have a friend I went to college with who is a licensed counselor, and has appointments with her patients via Skype).

At the end of the day, it is crucial to remember what made you choose your job or profession; what drew you in is satisfaction and enjoyment. Know that with every role in every organization, there is stress. You sometimes have to stop and assess if this is stress you can manage or not, and ultimately, it may mean you have to change the way you do things, to ensure that you are your happiest version of you.

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Shirley Claude is a Business Development Director for Surgent CPA Review. Shirley is a graduate of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and holds a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. Before joining Surgent, Shirley worked in Business Development for an education technology company overseeing East Coast growth.