Free D #1 – My Ten Methods to Cope with Stress

Well, as it will soon be apparent, this post is not about mobile technologies. In fact, that’s on purpose.

Like many of you, I find once in a while too big a pile of tasks I need to process. While sometimes planning helps to mitigate load, the hectic environment and era does havoc to sticking to those plans. Interrupts, “urgent” projects (sometimes due to poor planning by external involved, mind my honesty), contradicting schedules, and just pure luck may result in a stress full petri dish.

But WTF do I of all people, not known (yet) for his tranquil nature, want to murmur about stress? While not claiming to have any expertise on that field, I thought to start a dialogue on this, as it does touch few of us. Here are ten of the things I personally do to disarm stress. It is by all means not inclusive, ordered, or in fact relevant for all of you – but all below methods are employed by me to certain degrees of success in various work conditions:

  1. Preemptive Management – Scramble a Stress with your Asserts! By taking control of a situation, being assertive and saying No when you can, avoiding tasks you personally are known to handle poorly – you can trash away unnecessary stress factors. If some of those tasks are core in your role, you better take some time to learn them in a controlled environment, as they will keep coming at you.
  2. Break It – One of the simplest and accessible ways is to take a short break. Gather strength by replenishing, in any way you can afford do. I usually prefer to do a “pseudo-break” with below next item which is…
  3. Rapid Context Switch – Do something else. Shift your full attention to other activity. Engage with it strongly, and the time will detox the hazardous parts of your previous stressing activity, until only reminiscent is there. Sometimes the context switch allows you to avoid a stressful activity, people, or circumstances, until you are ready to handle those better.Then you return to your initial activity. Beware of deference or avoidance altogether – if something needs to be done, it will not run away.
  4. Communicate – Preferably by talking to others and yes I know social networking allows many other forms. Gain balance by drinking form the common wisdom out there. This also allows you to ventilate, express your feelings, and prevents a too long period of isolation.
  5. Blame Canada – Sometimes lack of confidence, or self doubts, will make a simple different views, look like a big conflict or even a distress situation. In some cases you can afford to “smartly ignore” your contribution (which is almost always non null) and just blame the weather, PMS, Saddam Hussein, or for that matter – Canada. If it helps you defuse the situation, and avoid the bad feelings from self blame, it can lead to positive results. I do not often use this method, as it has its cons – e.g. you should not ignore your part, and you should not ignore the stress message by trying to maneuver the cause. Your subconscious is usually smarter than you think and cannot be fooled around so easily. Still, when used cautiously, it can be effective, especially for “little-things-that-got-out-of-control-due-to-numbers”.
  6. Hit the road – Do something physical. I used to do it a lot when I was working in start-ups. We had boxing gloves, and hit a sack every day after a long debugging session. Often the bug was found when we returned.
  7. Zoom Out – Rather than self-pity, look beyond what you currently need to do (that caused you that stress) and gain some outside perspective. Look at how our current tasks fit into something bigger that us positive, rewarding, and raises good feeling in you. Psychologies sometimes offer this as “reframing”, but I prefer this on steroids by remounting it on a different wall of a different house, and not just changing the frame. Taking some notes on all the things that stress you is also beneficial. Zooming out  is an extremely powerful tool I use very often, as it fits my optimistic personality, as well as the inherent skills I poses to look into horizons.
  8. Consult the 3rd man – Often when stress results on a specific person (e.g. your boss – duh!), depending on your traits you may shift between defensive strengthening of your position to yourself, or totally dismissing it and accepting the other’s view. Both may result in further stress, either from keeping the conflict for the former, or from the sacrifice in the latter. You can try and visualize a 3rd person listening to both sides, and then asking him on his view. This mere exercise may provide a balance that will help to cope more effectively. I habitually use this with my spouse, but did use it at work situations as well.
  9. No Fear nor despairWhile preaching optimism is a slightly cheesy recommendation, looking at positive outcomes and upsides is a practical technique to learn.
  10. Sleep – While not always feasible, when you are too tired minor mishaps roll themselves into stress, and may accelerate. Other lifestyle choices may also inhibit stress (sporting, diet, avoidance of damaging substances, etc.) . For me, sometimes a short good rest is all I need. I personally have sleeping disorder allowing me to bypass full nights without sleeping. If I do not balance this, I can be easily irritated and need to sleep brute force even if I don’t feel tired.

This series of Free D posts, will continue to explore other mines of  work environment mines.


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