Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 30, 2012

How to cope with stress

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — A slight chill hangs in the air, rustling through trees. The branches are full of red, gold and orange. Change has come to the two Virginias. Instead of summer vacations, there is talk about Football Friday and West Virginia’s new home in the Big 12 conference. Reporters and editors are counting down until Election Day. It is officially fall. A season with an identity crisis. Cool mornings, hot afternoons and chilly evenings. Mother Nature can’t make up her mind no more than a 5-year-old child at the candy store. I can identify sometimes.

Throughout this transition, I have been quiet in the newsroom. It is that time of year, where all the large projects at work shift and overlap. Prerogative magazine, the annual BDT edition of Pride and the regular responsibilities of the newspaper eventually collide into a larger-than-normal workload. I anticipate this busy season and fortify with extra coffee, chocolate and yes, candy corn — those little triangles are so cute. Every job has its busy season. This is mine. In almost five years, I have learned a lot about myself during the fall months. Here is how I cope. I hope you can identify, if not sympathize a bit.

Sleep is golden. When things get busy at work, I crave more ZZZ’s. I started going to bed at 10 p.m., sometimes even earlier. I am ashamed to admit I fell asleep one night at 9:15 p.m. My college-self was mortified in embarrassment. Friends know not to call after 9:30 p.m. The TV goes off around the same time too. I am missing a lot of new TV shows and football games. Beauty sleep? Not really. More like editor sleep. Journalists need their rest. Half-sleepy eyes don’t work well in a newsroom. We haven’t found a way to prop our eyelids open yet.

It is open season on candy. From candy corn to chocolate, the sugar high takes the edge off of stress. I have read all the articles about how to beat the afternoon slump, but I still want my candy, especially since stores are merchandising Halloween treats. Limited edition bags of candy are too tempting to pass up. If I don’t buy the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses, I won’t get another opportunity until Fall 2013. I love all the autumn goodies. Luckily, I am writing this after my dentist appointment. I take the full bags to my parent’s house for safe keeping, or either let a co-worker guard the bags of candy. I don’t trust myself on a deadline.

The experts are right. Exercise helps relieve stress. I have logged many miles on the treadmill burning off energy — all the candy, too — after a long day at the office. Lately, I head to the gym in the morning. It is quiet at 5 a.m.; I have plenty of time to think about the day and come up with creative ideas. Many of my favorite columns and articles have been created during a run. If things get really stressful, I am going to have to resort to a different workout. I heard kickboxing is a great way to kick people, I mean stress, out of the way.

I celebrate at the end. In late August, I outline the deadlines. They look like angry red circles on my desk calendar. To-do lists are scattered everywhere. One thing I have learned is there is such a thing as too many Sticky Notes. They don’t stick on the computer. They fall in the floor and end up under the desk. The months of September and October are covered up with deadlines and those pesky Sticky Notes. But November is clear and I always make plans to celebrate the end of my busy season. To celebrate, I plan to run the Color Run in Charlotte. N.C. — a 5k where race organizers spray powdered paint on runners. Then, book a massage and watch some late-night football with friends and family. Prerogative will be finished for the year. Election Day will be over mid-way through the month. Football will still be the talk of the newsroom. Thanksgiving will be around the corner. The good thing about a busy season is the transition — from busy to not-so-busy. ). A break comes eventually, just like a breath of freshair with the change of a season.

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at Follow her