Ways to Help Your Graduate Trainee Deal With Stress
At first, when our son or daughter obtains a position as an intern or graduate trainee, it's a source of pride and excitement within the family; pride that our child has taken an important first step on their chosen career path, followed by excitement and satisfaction that their future is being mapped out in a positive direction.
Often, though, those feelings quickly give way to the realisation that, in order to maintain their placement, they need to be prepared to work long hours, take virtually no breaks and be readily available, sometimes seven days a week. This is the way these environments function. Stress is a serious fact of life and has to be learned to be dealt with.
The problem with sustained, unremitting stress is that it gradually erodes a person's ability to enjoy life, feel motivated or be interested in what is happening around them. Health is often affected; sleeping, interest in food, fun, sex often disappears, irritability, inexplicable aches and pains can start to appear as a person's immune system becomes less resilient and more susceptible to germs and infection. Stress has become a major factor in sick leave statistics.
Let's look at some effective ways to help your graduate trainee deal with stress:
- Remind your intern or graduate trainee that their placement is, in reality, a short-term apprenticeship. Their hard work and commitment is part of the learning process, providing the foundation stones to an exciting career during which they learn at an intensive rate. It won't last forever.
- Encourage them to find a mentor or advisor. Some companies provide support in the form of stress management or counselling services. If help is available it's sensible to accept it, especially at first when everything is new, strange and a challenge. Asking for help when it is needed is important and far better than making mistakes which may have serious implications. And, if a mistake has been made, encourage them to readily admit it; doing so demonstrates integrity and allows for errors to be dealt with straight away.
- Suggest that they make their own notes when being taught new tasks. Notes provide reassurance that important information is available and is in their own words. They are a valuable way of managing the stress and pressure to remember everything. Lists too are useful as a way of prompting for outstanding or important items and can be referred to later to see how much has been undertaken.
- Advise them to view work friends and social friends as completely separate, especially at first. Friends at work can be enjoyed in context but it's best to take care and be discrete. Dealing with stress means avoiding the temptation to gossip or be negative or critical of others. Remind them that each person on the programme is there to support their own career advancement. Encourage them to be comfortable in their own skin; by using positive affirmations, hypnotherapy for confidence and self-hypnosis techniques they can keep their own counsel and remain self-sufficient.
- As a parent, do your best to provide the best level of personal support for your graduate trainee or intern. If they still live at home, try to ensure that healthy meals are readily available. If not, encourage them to have appealing food in the freezer, a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, tasty, nutritious soups so that food preparation is kept to a minimum. Coffee, fizzy, sugary drinks and other stimulants might be seen as short-term solutions, but they in fact provide artificial highs which serve to accentuate stress on the body.
- How to dress to create the right impression can be another source of stress to the graduate trainee and intern. Some people find that regularly wearing clothes in one colour - navy blue or black - reduces expense and makes life less stressful. Also deciding what to wear the night before can be a help as it's one less decision to make in the morning.
- Exercise is an effective way to deal with stress. Stretching, yoga and gentle exercise can be effective at the end of a busy, stressful day, especially before bed. Pleasant exercise with friends can be fun, like sport or dance classes, or a weekend walk with family followed by an enjoyable lunch together.
- Restful sleep can be a struggle during times of intensive work and stress. Hypnotherapy is a positive way to clear the mind of stress and allow a calmer approach to sleep. Encourage your graduate trainee or intern to keep their bedroom tidy and free from an excess of work related material. The bedroom should be treated as a place to relax and let go of the concerns of the day, where they recharge their batteries ready for the coming day. Allowing time to wind down before bed is important; taking a refreshing shower, listening to relaxing music, using self-hypnosis techniques and positive visualisation can all help.
- Encourage them to take a regular breather from work for water, healthy snacks or a walk outside to provide a break from stress. People are noticeably more productive after a short break away from their desk. Self-hypnosis and power napping, positive affirmations and scheduled breaks are all effective ways to manage stress.
And, if it becomes apparent that this career is too stressful or not the best choice for your son or daughter, it's important to demonstrate appreciation that they have tried their best but that it's okay to look for something that suits them better. Not everyone finds their ideal career choice at the first attempt.
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