I’m so optimistic about this brand new decade. At City of Hope, we’re on the threshold of introducing a $1 billion state-of-the-art cancer campus in Orange County, California. It’s the capstone of my career as a health care executive, and it will be game-changing for our local community. I can’t wait for the 2020s to start.

I’ll admit that some days can be stressful, but over the years I’ve learned to manage it through self-care, achieving balance, and finding purpose.

Stress is bad for your health

As we roar into the 2020s, let’s start the decade by being good to ourselves. When you’re busy on a tremendous project, stress can get the best of you. It can wear you out emotionally and may even have links to illness, including cancer. Too much stress weakens our immune systems and leads to unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and ignoring exercise routines.

Here are seven ways to handle stress. Some are common sense and others are habits that I’ve learned from personal experience:

Love. Laugh. Relish the time with people in your life.

Pulling one from the playbook of my 12 grandchildren, it’s important to not let adulthood consume you. Be a kid at heart. Dress up for the holidays at work. Most of our days are spent with family and work colleagues, but widening your social circle is also important. Socializing and laughter get that dopamine rolling and push that stress hormone out of your system.

Reassess the “why” of work. Find a purpose.

I’m fortunate to have always found work that aligns with my principles and values. Work should be a “calling.” If you’re having trouble connecting with your job or it doesn’t jive with what you stand for, consider making a move. Life is too short to be spending the majority of your working hours at a job that is not “purposeful.”

Reinvigorate your self-care routine.

Rather than start an entirely new routine, consider what made you feel better in the past. Maybe it’s time to rethink your yoga classes. Or maybe reclaim an activity from childhood like swimming. Sleep! You’ll feel better physically and emotionally with all those happy memories.

Put down the phone.
Too many executives are tethered to their phones 24/7. I try to be present at work and present at home. That means there’s a minimum of scrolling through my phone over the weekend. Although the balance between work and family is never 50-50, try to be off email between Friday night and Sunday evening.

Hold onto hope.

I work in cancer care, where we are always mindful of staying positive. If your world is filled with pessimism, you can increase your stress levels — and that impacts your physical and emotional health. You can be happier and even healthier if you change your point of view or have something to look forward to. It leads to being more productive, confident, and able to think through roadblocks.

Have a plan.

Yes, being present in the moment is good, but everyone has dreams and ambitions. Use the new year and decade to take stock of where you’re going with work, family, finances, health, faith, community, and relationships. There’s a reason that job interviewers often ask where you see yourself in five years. Long-term planners are more likely to get things done.

Don’t suffer in silence.

If you need help with something, no matter how trivial or inconsequential it seems, don’t hesitate to ask for help. And if you feel you can’t lift a cloud from your shoulders, it’s time to reach out. You’d be surprised how many people are available to assist. This includes help from religious or spiritual leaders, medical or psychological professionals, family, neighbors, friend, and colleagues.

So as we turn the calendar to 2020 and a new decade, make the stress part of the past. Have a beautiful and stress-free new year.