How to: De–stress at Work

The last few weeks at work have been in a word, stressful. A lot of changes have come down the pipeline and my team is trying to handle it all in stride. Last week in particular was filled to the brim with challenges, and somehow in a matter of hours I became a little ball of stress. It wasn’t until I got home that I began to slowly feel the stress melt away.

boldI’ll admit, I have never been great at handling stress. I think it was easier in college when I could walk across the quad or down the hall to a friend’s room. Taking a few minutes to get away from the papers, exams, or extracurricular work was often all I needed to gain a little perspective. At work it isn’t quite as easy to find a “sit on the quad and watch the sunset” moment. That being said, I think I’ve found a few ways to help manage my stress.

  1. Walk Away – Going off my trick from college, taking a walk outside or simply to the coffee machine can do wonders. It clears your head a bit and also allows you to avoid the dozens of emails pouring in for a few minutes.
  2. Just breathe – So simple, but something I am not always mindful of when I feel the stress start to overwhelm me. Stopping for a few minutes to focus simply on your breathing can make a world of difference. There are a variety of techniques you can try to find the best fit for you.
  3. Wake up earlier – The most stressful days I have at work are when I am stressed before I even reached my desk. Running late, weaving in and out of slow walking New Yorkers, and reaching my desk minutes before my first meeting doesn’t make for a calm day. Waking up a few minutes earlier gives me time to grab a cup of coffee and go through my emails before the madness of the day sets in.
  4. Snacks – I am one of those people who sometimes forgets to eat when I am stressed. I bounce from one meeting to the other, and suddenly it’s 4pm and I haven’t had lunch. That makes for not only a stressed out Allison, but also a really cranky one too. Keeping healthy snack options nearby makes this step easy and keeps hangry at bay. I also recommend eating snacks away from your desk, find somewhere quiet for a few minutes of peace.
  5. Take your lunch break – Going off the last tip, actually take your lunch break! I know it isn’t always easy to get away for an hour, especially when you are in back to back meetings all day. However, it is so important to go out and grab lunch or simply step away from your desk for even 30 minutes. It is a necessary mental break that will recharge you enough to power through the rest of the afternoon.
  6. Music – Create a playlist of your favorite songs to always have on hand! Sometimes when people keep stopping by my desk and asking me questions, (and as a result breaking my train of thought!) I plug in my headphones to block out the distractions. I always opt for Country music because my Pandora playlist has become the perfect balance of calm and upbeat music. My all time favorite songs these days are Thomas Rhett’s Crash & Burn or Make Me Wanna, I am seriously addicted.
  7. Stretch – Get up and move around every half hour! I have been working on my posture at work and it has made a world of difference. Simply standing up and stretching your shoulders and back can help elevate those stressed muscles.
  8. Add some green I’ve already mastered this tip…have plants at your desk! Studies have shown that keeping plants at your desk can help reduce stress. I keep an ivy plant and a small bamboo plant on either side of my computer. I love these touches of nature, because it makes my desk feel like a happier place to work.
  9. Say No – This is more of a life lesson, but sometimes you just have to say “no”. I am the kind of person who will always take on different projects and tasks, and don’t always realize that I can’t handle it all until I am overwhelmed. I need to remember that sometimes it is okay to say “no” and push back. Stop adding to your stress by taking on things you cannot handle. It is better to reach out to your team for help or to better delegate the work. This will help to elevate mounting amounts of stress.

I hope these tips help you deal with the stress in your own life! Any helpful tips I should add into my own routine?

Apartment Finds: Ottomans

My apartment has definitely come together in a lot of ways over the last few months! I love how homey it feels when I walk in the door. But I’ve also learned that decorating is a constant work in progress, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like it’s finished. I am always thinking of new things I want to do in my space (that also falls within my budget!) The next thing on my apartment list is a new ottoman. Right now I have this old pink cube from college that doubles as extra storage (a necessity in any tiny NYC apartment!). Unfortunately it is starting to fall apart and the pink isn’t exactly as bright or clean as it used to be. In an effort to update my apartment aesthetic (and storage!), I decided to search for a few new options. Here are my favorites so far!

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 6.38.02 PMMerritt Storage Ottoman

Keeping with a navy blue theme, this pattern is a great pair for my brown faux leather couch.

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Newtown Storage Ottoman

I love the shelf beneath this ottoman. I can store all my favorite coffee table books without getting in the way of putting my feet up. It also comes in a cute floral pattern that could work too!

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Anne Skirted Storage Ottoman

I am clearly a fan of patterns! I can’t get enough of this skirted option.

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Round Tufted Storage Ottoman

Something a little bit more simple.

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Water Hyacinth Storage Ottoman

This option could pair nicely with the wicker baskets in my IKEA Shelving Unit!

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 6.43.20 PMJohn Robshaw Garson Square Ottoman

I just thought this one was pretty cute 🙂

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Classic Collection Vintage Script Fabric Round Storage Ottoman

This one reminded me of a postcard!

For my space, I am clearly looking to incorporate navy! Since my curtains and bedding have touches of navy, I want to make sure my ottoman doesn’t feel out of place. The great thing is that there are plenty of options out there! I don’t think I’ve found a winner yet, but I’m not giving up.

How to Make Your Apartment a Home

I’ve been living in my studio for a little over 5 months and it is finally coming together! I know, I know, I’ve said that before, but this time I really mean it! Back in December (before the holidays!) my family came to the city, bringing with them all the big furniture I’ve been acquiring over the last few months. They hung up my curtains and artwork and any other random “handy man” help I needed. These little tweaks have truly made a world of difference in my space and I am so excited with how it is all coming together. Now my apartment feels less like a dorm room and more like a home. One thing I’ve learned from these changes is that it really doesn’t take much to make your space feel more homey.

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My home improvement elves helping me make my apartment into a home!

Curtains, curtains, curtains

This was the true game changer for my space. Once my dad hung up my navy curtains, it actually felt like a home. Adding a pop of blue to the walls brought the room together in a way I had not anticipated. Plus, they are the blackout kind of curtains so I am guaranteed a good nights sleep without street lights invading my apartment.

Display your art

Such a simple task, but makes a very big difference. I asked my parents to bring a piece of work that my godmother made me and has been hanging in my childhood room for the last 20+ years. Since I have two large windows, I decided to hang the piece right in between and it looks absolutely beautiful. It is one of the first things I see when I walk in the door, and I love it.

Show off your reading list

Books are a great way to add color and style to a space without breaking the bank. I have hundreds of books in my personal collection and I love displaying what I’m currently reading. Although I’ll admit, I am constantly rearranging my books, still attempting to master “bookshelf styling”. Every few days I rearrange my favorite knick knacks amongst the latest stack of books I’m reading which is a simple way to freshen up my space.

Nails over hooks

In college, I used command hooks to hang everything from towels to picture frames. Now, I am starting to realize the visual impact that a large white command hook has vs. a nail. I like how streamlined my walls looks with less bulky command hooks. Another simple switch that makes me feels less like I am in college.

Out with the old

Okay now before you think I mean buy a $500 couch and $400 bookshelf, stop yourself. I brought TONS of things from my parents house and items I used in my college dorm rooms to my apartment. However, I quickly realized some had seen their better day. I had a green butterfly chair for 5+ years and lets just say it was starting to fall apart. Moving to my studio put me in the position of balancing between old and new, constantly asking myself what’s worth the investment and what’s not. I knew that I needed a new couch and did tons of research before landing on my beloved brown faux leather loveseat.

Add a little green

I’ve mentioned this before, back when I lived in a very dark (basically basement apartment!), plants make a HUGE difference. I absolutely love having plants in my apartment and just bought a few more to include in my space. I have a floor plant a few smaller floral plants and am on the hunt for a couple more smaller options. Arranging them in my bookshelf, my bathroom, and even on the little side table when I first walk in the door adds the perfect amount of color.

Bring pieces of home

I asked my parents to bring quite a few things from their home to me. Although this is my first apartment on my own and I am starting fresh in many ways, I did want a few favorite pieces from home. This includes my godmother’s artwork, my classic Nancy Drew books from my childhood, and a watercolor skyline I made in elementary school. While “spring cleaning” my parent’s house over the holidays I came across tons of hidden gems that I completely forgot about. These touches from my past make my apartment feel more like a home, one filled with memories.

If there is one thing I have learned throughout this process is that it takes time to make a house a home. For someone who likes immediate results and quick changes, this has been a good test of my patience. That being said, I’ve learned that I am capable of many of those “handy man” tasks that I used to shy away from. I just hung up two different things on my own, and the feeling of accomplishment afterwards was awesome. Although there are many things I still want to do to my apartment (my dress rack is almost falling over and many of my clothes are still in plastic bins) it is slowly but surely getting there. I cannot wait to do an apartment reveal in the coming months to show off the place I now call home!

What are ways you have found to make your house a home? Anything I missed?

Apartment Finds: Bookshelves

I’m back again with my latest apartment finds! I recently bought a bookshelf that I will use for both storage and as a sort of dividing wall in my studio. This weekend my parents and brother came up to visit me in the city to help me assemble a few new furniture pieces, including my bookshelf! Before I landed on this one, I found quite a few other options that could have worked!

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.27.00 AMHadley Bookshelf, Blue – One Kings Lane

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.22.11 AMMid- Century Display Shelf – West Elm

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.23.44 AMBaxton Studio Tilson Modern Bookshelf – My Habit

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Designs2Go 66.14″ Ladder Bookcase – Wayfair

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Coppar 71″ Bookcase – Wayfair

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.31.18 AM3 Tier Corner Shelf  31.5” Bookcase – Wayfair

So there you have it, my latest apartment finds! Are you on the hunt for any home decor pieces? Now that I have my bookshelf/make shift wall, I am excited to showcase my favorite decor! Any tips on bookshelf styling?

Apartment Finds: Accent Chairs


As I scour home decor websites in the hopes of finding the jackpot piece for my studio apartment, I have stumbled upon tons of great options! There are so many amazing pieces out there, but often times the size or price just doesn’t work for me. So instead of buying everything that catches my eye, I thought I would post regular updates on my latest apartment finds! Today? Accent chairs!

I have been on the hunt for a great accent chair pretty much since the moment I moved into my studio. I have been dreaming about a bright and colorful accent chair that could double as a desk chair. The only problem is…well I don’t even know if I can fit a desk in my apartment at this point! I am waiting for my new loveseat (SO excited about this one!) to be delivered and I am planning to rearrange a little bit. Once I have a better sense of the space following my biggest purchase to date, I will see if I can actually include an accent chair. Fingers crossed! In the meantime, I thought I’d round up the accent chairs that caught my eye!

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.40.03 AMKira Accent Chair, Pink/Multi – One Kings Lane

I’m pretty sure I fell in love the moment I saw this chair! I love the use of color and it feels like me. The only downside is that my apartment already has LOTS of color in it and again I’m not sure if I could make it work (size wise) in my space. It also comes in a variety of styles like this, a slipper chair, and a side chair, that could be a great option for my tiny kitchen table.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.45.30 AMDwell Home Marlow Accent Chair with Bardot Upholstery – Bed Bath & Beyond

A touch of blue is always a great addition to a space. I like that it adds color but is not necessarily in your face the moment you see it. It would be a calm way to add more color to a room. This style also comes in grey and red for variety.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.48.06 AMMadison Park Alexis Trellis Accent Chair – Kohls

For all the navy lovers out there, this accent chair is perfect for any apartment! And it’s currently on sale…win!

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.54.02 AMKabani Accent Chair – dot & Bo

I kind of LOVE this chair. If I didn’t already order my beautiful leather loveseat, I would be seriously considering this option for my studio. It is completely different than my typical style but I think that’s why I am so drawn to it, I like to keep things interesting! Also, leather is a nice way to add variety to a space that is filled with lots of similar furniture!

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.54.33 AMAberdeen Accent Chair – dot & Bo

Okay so this one might seem a little out there, and maybe it’s my slight obsession with fall talking, but this plaid chair is really beautiful. I think it would be a great piece for a cozy corner, add a warm cashmere blanket, and it would be perfection. It also comes in three other plaid shades!

So there you have it, my latest apartment finds! Are you on the hunt for any home decor pieces?

Why I turned down a job when I was unemployed living at home with my parents

I’ve mentioned before in an earlier post that I received a job offer before accepting my current job. At the time, I had no other offers on the table and was still living at home with my parents in NJ. Saying no was not an easy decision, so in an effort to explain this choice, I thought I’d write a post about it!

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This was taken last summer when I was sitting on my deck applying to job after job.

First things first, last summer I spent hours applying to job after job. I made multiple trips into New York City for both interviews and informational coffee meet ups. I made countless phone calls with family friends’ connections, to help me get one step closer to finding that great first job. After what felt like forever (which in actuality was only 4 weeks after graduation) I was extended a phone interview with an organization that is dear to my heart. I excitedly took the interview and afterwards was extended a follow up Skype interview. Both went extremely well, and I was hopeful that something seemed to be moving forward in my career search. At that point, I was just glad that after throwing so many applications against a wall, it looked like one was finally sticking. It was evidence of progress in a way that I so desperately needed at the time.

Within a week of the Skype interview I was extended an offer. The position was located in Columbus, Ohio. When I initially applied for this job, I thought it was a remote position, but quickly learned after the Skype interview that I would be expected to relocate. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against Columbus, Ohio. I actually have a significant amount of family who live within an hour of the city. So I knew that if I decided to move there I would have a great support system nearbyThe other comforting aspect of the job was the opportunity to be alongside many other recent college graduate women. I reveled in the idea that I would have an immediate group of new friends in this new place as I started this next chapter of my life.

However, after receiving the written offer that laid out my salary and expectations, I started to second guess this job. I think the main reason I was so excited initially, was that this again was the first true sign of progress in my job search. It showed me that I was capable of finding a great opportunity. That being said, deep down I knew that this wasn’t something I wanted to do in the long term. It wouldn’t help me reach the lofty career goals I’ve set for myself, and would in all honesty make it trickier for me to get back on track towards those goals. At the same time, I was scared that nothing better would come along. At the time it had only been a month since graduation, but I was going nuts and I was afraid to say no to this opportunity.

Thankfully, I have incredibly understanding and supportive parents. They have always pushed me to work hard and believed in me no matter how many obstacles have come my way. I owe a lot of my inner drive and determination to the two of them. I had promised myself senior year, that I would get out of my parents house as soon as possible after graduating. And I was determined not to let it get to the point where they felt the need to kick me out. When I received the offer, I remember sitting on the front porch steps reading everything over. Right then and there I knew in my gut that I shouldn’t take the offer.

I called my Dad, who listened to all the pros and cons of this job offer. I think he knew in my voice that this wasn’t what I wanted to do. He also reassured me that this position was not going to advance my career, and that it was in a city that I did not desire to live in. He had faith in me that I was qualified enough to find a better fit for me. Although I cried during that phone call, scared that I would not ever find a job that fit me, deep down I knew he was right. It also reassured me that both he and my Mom knew I wasn’t just sitting around waiting for the “job fairy” to extend me the perfect job, and that I was actively working towards it. I think my parent’s belief in me gave me the strength to say no. It also gave me the piece of mind that I could keep searching and living at home, instead of jumping at the first opportunity to leave just so I would be out of their hair.

Saying no was by no means an easy decision. But at the same time, I think it gave me the dose of confidence I needed to find a great job fit for me. I kept at the job search for the following three months. I cannot tell you how many break downs and freak outs I had during that time, but I think that is all part of the process. Questioning the offers I was extended and interviews I went in for reminded me that ultimately this was my decision. I kept thinking of tip #3 from my sorority recruitment post, that even though I am going in for the interview I still had the ultimate control in where I ended up. I was holding more cards than I realized.

Saying no to that first job offer was just the beginning of the journey. Had I said yes, I would not be anywhere near where I am today: living in NYC on the Upper East Side working at a job I truly love. At the end of the day I went with my gut and it (as always!) led me in the right direction.

The one time it is okay to cry at work

If you have to cry, go outside! by Kelly Cutrone is at the top of my stack of Career Must Reads. It is a motto I have kept in mind since the beginning of the job search process to one year into my first real job. Lately, however, I have found the one exception to that rule. I mentioned a few months ago that my manager and mentor was leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. This came as quite a shock and definitely put our team on edge. We had been uncertain about our future and what was to come, especially as her last day loomed ahead. I think our team is nervous to lead ourselves while HR looks for the right fit, knowing that finding someone can be quite a lengthy process. In the meantime, we have all met one on one with our manager to help with the transition.

When I met with my boss individually, I told myself over and over again that I would not cry.

I won’t let it happen.

Not here.

No.

Well…let’s just say I failed.

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As I sat in her office, she began to talk about my role here as her assistant. Hearing someone I admire and respect speak so highly of me and the work I have done was overwhelming. It is such a strange moment when someone you respect and admire speaks of you with so much appreciation, knowing that they will no longer be in the office in a matter of weeks. I was surprised by her thoughts of me as her assistant, because in the real world there are no grades, so it’s sometimes hard to tell where you stand. So lets just say I was caught off guard by all the kind things she said. And then my eyes started to well up with tears. I kept hearing Kelly Cutrone’s voice in my head to wait until I was in private to cry. But I couldn’t help myself.

These were not tears of hurt or anxiety, but ones of true sadness that I was losing such an incredible mentor. She has guided me throughout the past year and has allowed me to take on so much more outside my job description. She never treated me as just her assistant, but as a valuable member of the team. I cannot even put into words how grateful I am to have had a manager that was such a strong, poised, and widely respected woman in the corporate world. She treated our team like family, but also always encouraged us to push ourselves and do more. It is rare to find a mentor so early on in your career, so I am thankful to have found such an incredible one at the get go. I know that this is not goodbye, she will forever be my mentor. I am looking forward to seeing what adventure she takes on next, because any company would be lucky to have her.

A few months ago an executive at my company and I were chatting at a photo shoot and he asked me what I wanted to be “when I grow up.” I paused, smiled, and said I wanted to be just like my manager. It sounds cliché but it’s true. I hope to one day be the kind of mentor she is, someone who is widely respected, strong, talented, and kind. This is a rare combination. She took a chance on me. Most executives tend to hire assistants with more experience, not a recent college graduate. My manager, however, recognized the dilemma so many post grads face. How are we supposed to get a job if we have no experience? She understood and looked for someone she could help grow and I will be forever thankful to her for hiring me and for mentoring me over this past year.

I will say, I definitely do not recommend crying at your office. Especially if you are upset or hurt because of a coworker’s comment or manager’s frustration. Those are the moments you go outside and take a walk, or even just duck into the restroom to cry for a few minutes, never in your managers office. But I think tearing up in my boss’s office showed how much I deeply respect her and how grateful I am to her for all she has given me. And hey, I’m only human!