Archives for posts with tag: stress

I’m going to start with a full confession. I was struck with writer’s block when it came to this week’s article. I had no idea what I was going to write and the list of topics I had outlined seemed unappealing to me—so I deleted them. (I have yet to brainstorm anything new.) It was then I realized I’d fallen into a slight slump. I also realized that such feelings are okay. Not every day is going to be a winner. One can’t be happy and feel productive all of the time. Life simply doesn’t work like that and occasionally you have to pull yourself through the day. Ironically, these feelings gave me a topic to write about.

So what do you do when you realize you’ve reached a slump and you’re close to feeling burnout? Everyone is different, but there are some key techniques that can help address the problem:

  • Take a break or a vacation. Even if you’re at a job you absolutely love and it doesn’t feel like work, a break is still needed to refresh the mind and body.
  • Take care of yourself. When things become stressful, good habits such as plenty of sleep, a good diet, and exercise become more important than ever. These are needed fuel to keep your body strong and healthy in addition to easing stress.
  • Learn to say “no” when possible. You cannot be everything to everyone. Sometimes it is important to say no and not to take on more responsibilities until you’ve recovered from a slump.

Personally, I can say that while work is going decently, I realize I do need a proper vacation. I just finished navigating one of the busiest times of the year. While work in the new year has been a lot slower, I haven’t had a proper vacation. Normally, I take vacations three to four times a year. However, since becoming full-time my vacations have been reset and I won’t be able to properly take one again until June. The last time I actually took a vacation was in August. For the time being, I’ve set up a series of upcoming back-to-back personal days that should function as a vacation as well as a few strategically placed days off.

Life at home has been quite stressful at times. The latest was dealing with clogged pipes and having to get them unclogged, which included purchasing a new toilet. Additionally, my car needs a new bumper cover and a motor for the windshield wipers. All of the above are not fun or cheap. While there’s nothing I can do about these problems except to deal with them as they occur, learn, and move forward. Dealing with that stress also means practicing the techniques I outlined.

 

What techniques do you use to mitigate burnout when you feel it approaching?

Fire by Robbie Shade of Flickr

Fire by Robbie Shade of Flickr

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I’ve been so busy lately with a project at work that is running very behind. It’s not my fault, but I still do have to keep up with it and try to get my end of the project done as quickly as possible. Some days I feel like I come in to work and don’t look up again to take a breath until I realize it’s already lunchtime and I’m starving. Then, I’m usually working right up until the very last minute until I have to leave to catch my train home. This is both good and bad–it makes my days go by pretty quickly, but sometimes I’m left with a vague, stressed, uneasy feeling when I leave for the day. Here’s what I’ve been doing recently to combat this:

  • Listen to music. I already listen to music almost all day in work, but recently I’ve been listening almost solely to classical music or other instrumental music to calm me. I don’t have to concentrate on any words and I can just get lost in my work (and avoid the sometimes noisy distractions around me) without blasting loud, distracting music.
  • Drink lots of water. Not only does drinking a lot of water make me feel better physically and mentally, but it also forces me to get up more than twice a day to stretch my legs. It’s never good to go most of the morning before realizing that I haven’t gotten up once to do anything! I’m kind of getting two birds with one stone on this one :).
  • Take a minute or two to chat with coworkers. Sure, I have a lot to do, but will it really matter if I complete a task if I’m left frazzled afterwards? As much of an introvert as I am, I still do need human interaction. This morning, I talked to my friend for a few minutes before we both dove into our respective to-do lists for the day and I felt so much better for it. Conversation about things that matter to me (even if it’s a silly conversation) keeps me grounded and focused.
  • Unwind on the commute home. I keep my headphones in when I go down to the train and I also take out a book to read. Like I said earlier, sometimes I leave work and I feel stressed and I may even have the beginnings of a headache stirring. Once I get one the train, though, I force myself to let go of all that stress and worry and switch into home gear instead of work gear.

These may seem like simple things, but they’ve helped me immensely during this crazy time. Do you have any tips or tricks for staying sane during a busy time at work or school?

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I took Friday and yesterday off and it was glorious! Unfortunately, it was back to reality this morning with a hefty email inbox. After I did my initial triage to make sure that nothing was on fire (I joke but sometimes I get emails that make it sound like the world is ending!), I decided to tackle tasks that I didn’t really want to do right away head-on. It made a huge difference.

A lot of the time, I’m fine with complete time-consuming, challenging tasks first because it feel so good to finish them and have lighter tasks for the rest of the day. I do tend to put off tasks that require involving a lot of people and a lot of communication, especially when I’m trying to get my bearings after a day or two off. This morning, I decided that wasn’t going to happen. And you know what? Everything turned out fine–I received responses quickly and they required little to no follow-up on my part.

Sometimes, I believe I unconsciously make a big deal out of a task that does not require a lot of stress. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I believe that I consistently internalize a lot of my stress and I wonder how much of it is unwarranted. It really is not a big deal to send out an email or two with questions to several people first thing in the morning–sometimes, it actually is easier than waiting until later in the day. And if I had waited, I probably would have had it hanging over my head and maybe causing me a little extra anxiety that is completely useless.

I want to pledge, right here and now, to stop putting off tasks just because I don’t feel like it right at that moment. I have to stop punishing myself because, in effect, that’s what I’m doing by layering on all this extra stress.

What about you? Do you find yourself procrastinating for no reason at work or school? Do you feel better just getting something done instead of putting it off?

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Whew! Yesterday was a bit of a doozy. I was tired and stressed out at the same time (never a good combination!) and the emails just kept pinging my inbox. I could feel that fist (you know which one I’m talking about) in the middle of my chest squeezing tighter. I know that’s not good and that I need to deal with it, but I felt that I had to answer all of my emails right away. I was due to have lunch with a friend yesterday and I wanted to cancel in order to work on what I needed to get done. I’m so glad I didn’t!

I started the week off-kilter and it’s been that way ever since. Don’t you just hate that? In my typical fashion, I was just going to work through my anxiety, come what may. I’m glad that my brain told my hands to stop typing and my legs to start walking. As soon as I sat down with my friend and we started talking, I forgot about everything waiting for me back at the office. It’s like none of it ever happened! That fist in my chest loosened until I could breathe freely and I felt more confident. I noticed that as soon as I sat down at my desk after lunch, nothing seemed as daunting as it appeared only an hour before. I actually became more productive in the afternoon than I was in the morning!

Don’t deny yourself a lunch break, short walk, time sitting on a bench people-watching–do something during the course of your day that allows you to relax and forget for awhile! I tend to clam up when I’m stressed and to stay in one place, when I know that is the worst thing I can do. Letting off some steam truly made me feel more confident and capable so that my afternoon at work was a breeze compared to what I thought it would be. It’s important for us all to remember to take care of ourselves at work or school, not just in our free time!

How do you unwind at work?

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