3 ways literacy practitioners can manage stress at work

You invest so much into your literacy organization – both emotionally and physically – that it’s only a matter of time before you start feeling the effects. Some stress is okay; its fight-or-flight response helps us survive as a species. But when stress becomes chronic, burnout and depression aren’t far behind.

If you’re a literacy practitioner feeling stressed out at work, follow these three tips to better manage your stress levels.

Recognize the signs

To manage your stress, you first need to be aware of its warning signs.

Although stress affects each of us differently, common symptoms include exhaustion and fatigue, irritability and negativity, difficulty sleeping, and clenched jaw. Some signs of stress, like panic attacks, high blood pressure, and increased tendency to use alcohol and drugs, are more serious than others. More serious symptoms can have significant health effects, so it’s important to seek help right away.

Next, figure out what’s triggering your stress at work. Maintain a journal for a week to track what triggers your stress and your reactions to them. Note possible solutions for each stressor.

Implement stress management strategies

Strategies to experience more calm are different for everyone, so figuring out what works best for you may be a learning process.

One of the most popular ways to reduce stress is through regular exercise. When we engage in physical activity, we produce feel-good endorphins (our body’s natural painkillers) and reduce adrenaline and cortisol levels. Almost any type of exercise will work, including walking, swimming and yoga. At the office, try launching a wellness challenge or take walking meetings to get in exercise while working.

Deep breathing, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and sharing what you’re experiencing with friends can also help. Lean on your support network during especially tough work weeks.

Stress is serious, so if you ever feel like you can no longer manage it on your own, seek medical help.

Prevent overwhelm

Instead of dealing with the effects of stress, why not reduce the amount of stress you experience in the first place?

Being organized can help increase motivation and improve productivity while also reducing stress levels. Plan out your workweek in advance with to-do lists and calendars and prioritize what’s most important. Use time blocking for deep concentration work. Check out our organizational tips for busy literacy organizations.

As hard as it can be to turn work off at the end of the day, you need to if you want to avoid additional stress. Set clear boundaries between your work and home life, make time for socializing with family and friends, and take personal time just for yourself. Even a few minutes each day writing in a gratitude journal can help keep stress at a minimum.


It’s almost impossible to alleviate stress entirely – and some stress is actually a good thing. But if you want to continue making a difference as a literacy practitioner, you need to learn how to keep stress at a minimum.

For more strategies on how to manage stress, take the free Stress Management course on the ABC Skills Hub.