From the little trends that I can recognise in me, I know that stress typically sees me fall face first into some sort of sweet, whether it’s lemon sherberts, Krispy Kreme doughnuts or chocolate. I would say that probably 90% of my stress comes from work. I’m lucky that actually, work aside, I live a relatively stress-free life – I’m lucky to have a wonderful family, my health (albeit not optimal) is fine, I don’t have much in the way of finance worries, and there are no other big life changes on the way. And I should probably say that stress isn’t always a bad thing for me. Like many, I do pretty well on a challenge and a little stress can help move me towards a deadline.
But there is a tipping point where stress becomes a problem.
This week, my friend and colleague resigned. I thought she was joking when she told me to start off with and that she was just going to smile, say “gotcha” and bounce off with our coffee mugs to get the morning brew. I stopped what I was doing, looked at her and knew she was serious. I am so pleased for her, as this is just a brilliant opportunity and she’d be a fool to turn it down, but at the same time, I will be really sorry to see her leave my team. As we talked about her new role and how it was going to be strange not working together, I waited for the wave of argh to crash over me. It didn’t come immediately.
Now that I have had time to digest the news, I can see a lot of what is about to come. She’s our team’s administrator and as her supervisor, I can see the amount heading towards my desk as I also know that we won’t recruit her replacement in time. The work itself isn’t overly complicated, there is just a lot of it alongside looking after my own “thinky” work (which is pretty high at the moment with some projects I’m loving being part of). Okay, it’s not an ideal situation (for me), but it is rare that I have this much notice to get my bum in gear and effectively batten down the hatches so that I can weather the impending storm.
(Photo credit: Jib on Flickr)
Given that I have a couple of weeks to put some plans in place, here is what I am planning to make sure I don’t end up a completely broken and grey haired by my birthday in August.
Get to bed for 10:30pm
I’m not too bad a sleeper generally, but like most people, when there is a lot going on, I struggle to switch off. One thing I have done pretty well at recently is trying to shut off the amount of blue light I am looking at from around 9:30pm, as that has helped me “calm down”. It’s tough breaking the habit of many years though!
Take some time out while we’re still a full team
We become a team of 3 (from the current 4) in mid-May. If there is one thing I can to do help myself, it will be to take a couple of days out to do the stuff like a real good run through of housework, catch up on all the washing, finish clearing the boxes that are still floating around from our move last year, and create a proper work space. I use our spare bedroom, but I need to make it a nicer space to work. Any time that I can spend doing the mundane things now (or shortly) will stop me stressing out about it later down the line.
Get some fresh air, stretch a bit
I work a desk job. As my workload increases, I end up staying at my desk literally all day, and then take work home and work on the sofa. My fresh air exposure literally will be walking from the car to the office and back again. I plan to get outside, even if it is for a walk around the car park as I need to. I also want to get back into the habit of stretching as I really notice that movement is harder when I have been sat down all day. I fully intend to start my Fitness Blender videos in the not too distant future, but I am not there right now.
Know that I can’t do it all (and that’s okay)
I hate the idea of having to ask for help, let alone actually asking for it. Yet as soon as I can see someone struggling, I’ll offer support. Reciprocation sees me shrug it off with a “thank you, but I’m really okay” as I chow down my 6th biscuit in half an hour and peek up from my unintentional paper fort. Part of it depends on who the offer comes from – I don’t like my manager asking, as I feel it’s a failure, and another colleague would offer only to turn the knife later. So it’s time to get a bit selfish and put what I am working on first and make sure that I am prioritising well, and if it isn’t a good use of my time, it’s got to go!
It is important that while I need to understand that I can’t do it all, I do need to spend time doing the things I enjoy, whether that is blogging, some sewing, singing out loud (and out of tune probably), or getting outside. The weekends need to count – getting up and living life beyond my sofa.
What have you got coming up over the next few weekends? Matt and I are headed to Cardiff to watch Judgement Day soon, and we have my parents’ birthdays to look forward to.