Young Professionals’ Corner

Stress Busters

Tracey Li
US Oncology Medical Affairs Post-Doctoral Fellow
Pfizer, Inc.


icture this: You are busy working on a project with a looming deadline and unexpectedly an eMail alert pops up from your boss. The eMail is an urgent request to complete another time-consuming project that is now higher priority. Competing workstreams, tight deadlines and an ever-growing to-do list are all ingredients in a recipe for stress.

Does this sound familiar?

As I reflect on my own career, there have been many moments where I have encountered stressful situations which leave me wondering, “Can stress be a productive element? How does one counter stress? And what are some outlets for stress relief?”

I have personally found that moderate amounts of stress can be productive and even motivating. The sense of urgency I feel in stressful situations drives my desire to focus and get to the finish line. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

However, when presented with extreme or prolonged periods of stress, it is important to have ways to combat or relieve it. Below are a few of the ways I handle stress. Ultimately, the success of these techniques will vary from person to person.

  • Deep breathing: Slow, deep, even breaths in and out helps normalize my heartbeat. When I focus on my breath, my mind is able to reset and refocus. More advanced relaxation techniques such as meditation and guided imagery produce similar responses. There are many helpful resources available, including free smartphone applications, to aid with relaxation routines.
  • Contact my support network: Family, friends, and colleagues are my first line of defense for stress busting. I trust that they have my best interest at heart and will be good listeners. Connecting and spending quality time with them makes me feel safe and understood.
  • Carve out “me” time: “Me” time will vary based on individual interests. I try to disconnect, read, journal, and draw. Our calendars quickly fill up with meetings, work events, and other obligations, but it is important to pencil in time to prioritize yourself.
  • Get more active: I find practicing yoga or going for long walks to be invigorating. There are a large variety of fitness classes and exercise routines available online and in-person. It is a great first step to maintaining balance with a healthy lifestyle.
  • Smile and laugh: Watch a Netflix comedy or read a meme, whatever will get you laughing. Perhaps even look at old photos and videos to spark a smile. Regardless, a positive attitude and a sense of humor are tried and true stress relief.

Additional Reading Recommendations

National Institute of Mental Health
5 Things You Should Know About Stress

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Relaxation Techniques for Health

University of Michigan Health System
Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation