The Big Monster Named Stress – Working with Stress as a Community Manager

In December, we wrapped up the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows was made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. We’ll be recruiting for Cohort Two later this year for a start date of January 2019.

Meanwhile, we’re continuing to share reflections from the 2017 Fellows on the blog. In today’s post, Heidi Olds shares some strategies for coping with stress as a community manager. You can catch up on all posts by the Fellows here.

This year has been a whirlwind of new adventures! The challenges facing professionals working in the oil and gas industry have only illuminated the passionate spirit of our members and THAT is EXCITING! #SPEluv Although I am a member of the SPE Staff, I full- heartedly identify myself as a part of our member community. This sense of belonging and loyalty has intensified my workload. I find that I internalize things that are beyond my reach until they manifest into the Big Monster named S-T-R-E-S-S!

Stress monsters can take many different forms. How can you help to regain control? Image credit:
Stress monsters can take many different forms. How can you help yourself to regain control?
Image credit:

So how do we as community managers take on the overwhelming desire to be successful? Because, after all, success is more than just a number, it’s a means that defines us.

So I wanted to introduce how I am learning to manage this BIG Monster we know as S-T-R-E-S-S!

Tips for Training the S-T-R-E-S-S Monster

  • Don’t Internalize. Every problem is not your problem. Every malfunction did not happen because of you. Think about yourself as a conduit of resources. Focus on your successes and not your failures. As a community manager, it’s not your job to always be right.

“As soon as you stop focusing on yourself, then you will be able to help others.”  ~ Marinma Dorado

  • Be Authentic. The quickest way for stress to snowball is by denying yourself the ability to be authentic. Often times we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Expectations that no human can achieve. Why? Our community members don’t want perfection, they want a real experience. So be real! As soon as you allow yourself to make mistakes, then you will find meaning in your role. 
  • Live in the Present. As community managers, we find ourselves always looking to the future. We wear so many hats and it seems we often get swept away by constantly jumping to the next task. Experience the present to its fullest. Savor the feeling of accomplishment, you deserve it!
  •  Remember Yourself. Don’t neglect yourself– get ample sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, exercise and spend time with yourself. That sounds strange but surprisingly we need these reminders. Be your own best friend and remember to trust your instincts and be true to them.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

  •  Be Aware. We all know what it’s like when “life happens!” Remember that your team members/colleagues are just people too. Don’t get hung up on the little things. Offer empathy rather than enmity in difficult moments because you never know what your neighbor may be going through. Delight in their victories. Shower them with support in times of need. Recognize that we are all unique and celebrate that diversity! Love what you do and those around you.
  •  Be Contagious. If you love what you do and help others to feel welcome, that warmth and enthusiasm may inspire others. As a community manager, what more can we ask for?

Posted by Heidi Olds, Technical Activities Administrator for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE).

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