Oh, That’s a Relief!

By: Amanda Creel, RCE, e-PRO

No one is immune to having one of “those” days. We all need to reset our perspective or be reminded that there is no reason to panic. I will never forget when I was new on the job and a veteran AE told me, “No one dies on the operating table at our association.” 

“When I hit my limit and I just couldn’t take another phone call or another email, I would just pet him. It’s amazing how he will just take your stress level down a notch or two.”
—Kelly Burge, CEO of Northwest Iowa Regional Board of REALTORS® (pictured above)

That truth comes back to me on the days when I am running around fighting fires or someone else’s emergency has somehow become mine. Before the anxiety sets in, I think about how, in the bigger scheme of things, today’s hurdle is inconsequential. We all know our work stresses are valid and that we have real deadlines and important decisions to make. We have people counting on us to do our job so that they can do theirs. None of our work (I hope) is life or death, but letting the stress get to us could be. Stress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping, according to studies by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Sometimes you just need to walk away and reset. For me, a walk outside or a quick chat with a fellow AE is exactly what I need to turn my day right-side up. Having a circle of AEs who understand the unique challenges of being an AE is my therapy. Whether it’s getting together for a group conference call or meeting up for a quick retreat, knowing that I’m not alone and that others are navigating the same challenges is invaluable. 
There is, of course, no one way to recharge and reduce stress, but discovering which strategies help you weather the days that feel like a downpour is the key to long-term stress management.

Pick your own stress-reducing activity

Patra F. Brady, AE of the South Central Association of REALTORS® in Virginia, finds that shopping is soothing after a stressful day. “Shopping sounds selfish, but for me it’s about other people,” she says. “It gives me a chance to brighten someone else’s day by finding something special for them, and it takes my mind off of whatever ‘it’ is.”

“[Shopping] gives me a chance to brighten someone else’s day by finding something special for them, and it takes my mind off of whatever ‘it’ is.”
— Patra F. Brady, AE, South Central Association of REALTORS®, Va.

For others, a fitness regimen is what keeps them centered. “The gym is where I find my sanity,” says Deb Haines-Kulick, RCE, executive officer of the Clarksville Association of REALTORS® in Tennessee. Jim Wetzel, RCE, CEO of the Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS®, swims 100 laps a day. “It’s a big commitment, but it helps me manage the daily stress,” he says.

Sometimes AEs just need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and for many that means vacation time.

“Plan vacation time into your yearly calendar; otherwise you will never get a week off,” says Jean Beck, RCE, CEO of Hilton Head Area REALTORS®, S.C. 

Vacations are a must to relax, recharge, and decompress, agrees Shay Lawson, CEO at the Tuscaloosa Association of REALTORS®. “We need to focus on what’s really important in life instead of where the daily grind takes us,” she says. Lawson’s next vacation adventure will take her to Israel and Jordan.

“When you’re riding, you have to focus on something other than what is dragging you down.”
— Vardell Curtis, RCE, CEO of Washington County Board of REALTORS®, Utah

Some of us just need to escape the office for a minute. The greatest way to escape the office for Vardell Curtis, RCE, CEO of the Washington County Board of REALTORS® in Utah, is on the back of his motorcycle. “It is very liberating. You are not confined by doors or windows or a roof,” he says. “When you’re riding, you have to focus on something other than what is dragging you down.”

For other AEs, having a daily routine that ends in the kitchen helps them find relief. “It’s how I show love to other people. It’s a treat I can give them,” says Carol C. Seal, RCE, CEO of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®.  She adds that unlike most of her association work, cooking isn’t collaborative. Cooking is a project she can take from start to finish and put her whole heart into.

AEs spend a lot of time taking care of members and their staff, so for some, reflecting on moments when they felt appreciated helps keep them optimistic amid their newest challenge. 

“I have a ‘happy wall.’ I pin up all the cards and notes I’ve received from members and staff, and when I’m having a rough day, I take time to read a few, and it always reminds me of the hurdles I’ve overcome,” says Marti Kaiser, RCE, CEO of the Fargo Moorhead Area Association of REALTORS® in North Dakota.

“[Cooking] is how I show love to other people. It’s a treat I can give them.”
— Carol C. Seal, RCE, CEO of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

For Kelly Burge, taking time to pet the office puppy has become a part of the culture for staff and members at the Northwest Iowa Regional Board of REALTORS®, where she is CEO.

“When I hit my limit and I just can’t take another phone call or another email, I just pet him,” Burge says of her adopted shih tzu/bichon frise named Tucker. “It’s amazing how he will just take your stress level down a notch or two.” Tucker also ensures that Burge steps away from her desk throughout the day for a walk.

No matter what your pleasure, finding a way to unplug completely from the workplace is must for all us. It is part of the necessary self-care that I know many of us, including myself, are guilty of neglecting.

So, take a coffee break, enjoy a hike, read a book, or turn your phone off. It doesn’t matter what your choice of therapy is. Just make sure you find one. 

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