The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: monstermonster on December 16, 2015, 12:29:33 PM

Title: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: monstermonster on December 16, 2015, 12:29:33 PM
It's the worst time of the year for my job (non-profit fundraising) and I'm pulling 75+ hour weeks. I'm generally able to work hard and long, but I always want a nap and everytime I sleep, I dream about work.

What's the most mustachian way to manage work stress? My inclination is to drink good whiskey and watch episodes of Scandal while I take necessary busywork home in the evening, but that doesn't really seem to lower my stress levels much AND whiskey is expensive. It's dark and rainy and cold here this time of year, so exercise outside is not ideal. I've been leaving work too late to go to the affordable gym, so my 25 minutes of bike commute are the only exercise I've been getting.

I know a lot of you have stressful jobs, how do you manage the stress? What's your tactics to get through the tough times? (Other than procrastinating on the MMM forums.)
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: rubybeth on December 16, 2015, 12:36:29 PM
Um, drinking alone while watching television would be at the bottom of my list for reducing stress. Best for me (and science backs me up on this one) is to get moving (go on a walk--wear proper gear if it's raining or walk around indoors at a mall or something, do your favorite at-home workout--situps, jumping jacks, etc.) or do something like yoga. Also, I do as little screen time as possible, since my job involves a lot of screen time. So, I knit, read books, listen to podcasts while doing chores like folding laundry or washing dishes, and sing.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: monstermonster on December 16, 2015, 12:56:17 PM
Um, drinking alone while watching television would be at the bottom of my list for reducing stress.

Fair point, though I'm not technically alone - I live in a 1 bedroom small apartment with my SO, so he's like 3 feet away also drinking staring at a different screen.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: NoStacheOhio on December 16, 2015, 01:10:42 PM
I'm not super new-agey or anything, but there are a couple good guided meditation apps and websites (Calm is the one I use).

The adult coloring book craze seems silly, but I've started taking 5 minutes to color any time I get a ridiculous email. It helps.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Bearded Man on December 16, 2015, 01:11:16 PM
Short term, I drink. But long term, I am the type that likes to troubleshoot the root cause. So one way of de-stressing is saving and investing so I don't have to work. Technically I can stop now, but I want a lot of buffer.

It feels good to know though that if I stopped working I still have investments that pay my living expenses. Also good to know I have several options of houses I own to move back into (currently rentals). Paid off house, large mortgaged house with payment less than a studio apartment, McMansion with larger payment, etc.

I made a list of where I used to be and the goals that I achieved, and remind myself sometimes that I have come a LONG way. Where I used to worry about beater cars breaking down constantly, not being able to afford a decent one, rent, not being able to buy a house, etc. I now don't have to worry about those things.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Daisyedwards800 on December 16, 2015, 01:13:20 PM
New job?
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: NoStacheOhio on December 16, 2015, 01:14:22 PM
Fair point, though I'm not technically alone - I live in a 1 bedroom small apartment with my SO, so he's like 3 feet away also drinking staring at a different screen.

Maybe go for a walk together instead
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: matchewed on December 16, 2015, 01:21:05 PM
Um, drinking alone while watching television would be at the bottom of my list for reducing stress.

Fair point, though I'm not technically alone - I live in a 1 bedroom small apartment with my SO, so he's like 3 feet away also drinking staring at a different screen.

You might as well be alone in that scenario.

Regardless you need to make sure that you're managing the basics; eat right, sleep well, and exercise. I know it's easier said than done but it is the number one priority when it comes to managing hard scenarios and stress.

Aside from that you need to find stress management strategies that work for you.

Lifehacker is a great resource for finding writeups.
http://lifehacker.com/how-to-recognize-the-signs-of-burnout-before-youre-burn-1746870361
http://lifehacker.com/seven-strategies-for-regaining-your-focus-in-a-hectic-w-1742195207
http://lifehacker.com/when-stress-gets-out-of-hand-refocus-with-the-slls-met-1739513190
http://lifehacker.com/reduce-your-stress-by-making-good-enough-decisions-1731934303

*edit* Also just search lifehacker for stress and you'll find an imperial crapton of articles. :) gl
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: johnny847 on December 16, 2015, 01:23:11 PM
I bike to/from work. Great stress reliever.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: rubybeth on December 16, 2015, 02:52:58 PM
Um, drinking alone while watching television would be at the bottom of my list for reducing stress.

Fair point, though I'm not technically alone - I live in a 1 bedroom small apartment with my SO, so he's like 3 feet away also drinking staring at a different screen.

You might as well be alone in that scenario.

Yeah, I don't want to get into what "drinking alone" technically means, but drinking as a stress reliever is not great. If this is your primary way of dealing with stress, it makes me wonder what else is going on. I won't spell it out, but it's just... not so good.

Two other ideas: dance and talking to/low-key activities with your SO. Get him off the screen, too. It'll be good for both you. Do something together, even if it's playing cards or Scrabble or something. Watching television together doesn't really "count" as quality time.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Frankies Girl on December 16, 2015, 03:09:51 PM
What I used to do? Eat too much, chain smoke and grind my teeth to the point of jaw pain (very hard deadline-orientated job). Oh, and cry.

What I do now? Yoga, video games (blowing shit up is quite therapeutic), sex (not just for fun - big stress reliever!), and bubble baths. In no particular order.

But I'm definitely not as stressed now. So glad I quit that soul-sucking job this year! :D

Husband is still working and periodically stressed, but got him into yoga and he loves it. He says he always comes home feeling really relaxed and loose like a rubber band.  :)
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Gone Fishing on December 16, 2015, 03:18:16 PM
New job?

+1

After 50 hours/week at the office I barely have the energy to do much else during the evenings, couldn't imagine 75. 

Going to bed earlier would probably help, but that just means a higher % of waking hours at the office. 

How long does the busy season last?  What does the non-busy season looked like?  If the busy season is only 30-60 days long, having a few drinks and veging in front of a screen is probably not too bad.  If it is 3-4 months long, it might be time to look around...   
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: monstermonster on December 16, 2015, 04:43:32 PM
I bike to/from work. Great stress reliever.

I actually work for a bike organization! Sadly, my bike commute is so short now (just 11 minutes each way) that it isn't as much of a stress reliever as days past.

New job?

+1

After 50 hours/week at the office I barely have the energy to do much else during the evenings, couldn't imagine 75. 

Going to bed earlier would probably help, but that just means a higher % of waking hours at the office. 

How long does the busy season last?  What does the non-busy season looked like?  If the busy season is only 30-60 days long, having a few drinks and veging in front of a screen is probably not too bad.  If it is 3-4 months long, it might be time to look around...   
I don't want another job, actually. I love what I do and who I work for, but for some reason people insist in giving all their money away the last week of the year* so there's just a huge push on New Year's Eve for nonprofit fundraisers. Busy season is short - about 50 days. Rest of the year I work ~55 hours/week.

I've been really good about getting enough sleep - in bed by 9:30PM and I can't average less than 7 hours a night (or I get charged money- behavioral economics ftw!)

*people think it's because it's the time to get tax deductions, but in reality only 35% of Americans actually itemize their taxes. But I'm not going to talk them out of donating with tax advice!
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Cornbread OMalley on December 16, 2015, 04:44:14 PM
75+ hours is crazy.  I would cut out the alcohol and eat as healthy as possible to keep the energy level up.  And go for a quick 5-mile run in the mornings to get the blood flowing and clear the mind.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: monstermonster on December 16, 2015, 04:54:32 PM
75+ hours is crazy.  I would cut out the alcohol and eat as healthy as possible to keep the energy level up.  And go for a quick 5-mile run in the mornings to get the blood flowing and clear the mind.
Got the food thing down - we're really good with meal planning & slow cooker. 

You must be a lot faster than me because a 5-mile run is not "quick" in my reality- it's about an hour! Unfortunately, crazy season correlates with dark season (sun only out from 9AM to 4PM) here, and after busting my face open tripping on uneven sidewalk running in the dark, I just can't run outside in the dark anymore. I did do 30 minutes of running up and down the indoor stairs in my apartment building this weekend and discovered that WOW STAIRS ARE HARD ON MUSCLES. my calves are hilarious for the past 72 hours.

These are all good suggestions folks! Thank you!

No showers at work so I can't run during lunch, though it's definitely my fantasy. Considering leaving at like 4PM, biking to the gym, and then coming back after that until 8PM to keep energy up.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Cornbread OMalley on December 16, 2015, 05:25:00 PM
I did do 30 minutes of running up and down the indoor stairs in my apartment building this weekend and discovered that WOW STAIRS ARE HARD ON MUSCLES. my calves are hilarious for the past 72 hours.
LOL!  Yes, I know what you mean with the stairs and the calves.  I have been running stairs for three weeks in preparation for my trip to Nepal to hike the Himalayas.  Twelve floors in my condo equal one set so I have been doing 10 sets every other day.  When I started out my calves were sore for days!  During my recent business trip I ran the fire escape stairs in my hotel.  Other exercises I enjoy doing are jumping rope and burpees, which takes up very little space.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: little_brown_dog on December 16, 2015, 05:34:41 PM
When I was working in a stressful job, I found the best way to manage it was to get the big 3 enough sleep, enough good food, and enough fresh air. In addition, lavender oil baths (a few drops of lavender essential oil mixed with a few tablespoons of olive oil and dumped into a filling tub) are awesome. The oil feels silky smooth on your skin and lavender has been shown to have legitimate calming effects on the brain. Many people also respond well to organic chamomile tea right before bed.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: cjottawa on December 16, 2015, 05:40:13 PM
1: I left a job/career that I couldn't leave at the office at the end of the day.
2: I chose a new career with incredible job security.
3: I stopped giving a fuck (http://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck) and leave my job at the office at the end of the day.

EDIT - other things "in my life" that affect my general well-being:

Healthy food (I take home-cooked food to work, every day, and fresh fruit and veggies).
Enough alone time. (I need down time to myself and tell friends and family "no" a lot).
Gym time. (a few times a week but occasionally take a month or two break when recovering)
Hobbies. (archery, fly-fishing, road trips...)
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: johnny847 on December 16, 2015, 05:53:49 PM
I bike to/from work. Great stress reliever.

I actually work for a bike organization! Sadly, my bike commute is so short now (just 11 minutes each way) that it isn't as much of a stress reliever as days past.

You could purposely take a longer route ;)
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Yonco on December 16, 2015, 06:09:29 PM
Doing more work! I'm a machinist, so I drink a few beers and work on a project of my own. On my own terms at a place I am comfortable with.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: MonkeyJenga on December 16, 2015, 06:51:07 PM
No showers at work so I can't run during lunch, though it's definitely my fantasy.

Go for a walk, then. Or a bike ride. You won't be so gross that you need a full shower, just a quick towel off in the bathroom. You can trust me. I have gone for hour+ lunch walks for two years. I change into a sports bra and top in the bathroom, because I'm not sweating all over my fancy* clothes.

Or just run, come back, and towel off more intensely in the bathroom.

The break and the sunshine help me tremendously.

What I used to do: drink, eat, cry, slam cabinet doors, be very angry with everyone, watch TV, work harder, get a new job.

What I do now: get a new job, go for a walk, watch TV less frequently, listen to podcasts, have a conversation with someone I know will cheer me up.

*Free clothing from swaps counts as fancy, right?
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: gliderpilot567 on December 17, 2015, 08:39:48 AM
Used to: Drink too much, grind my teeth to pain, get angry at my wife for imagined reasons, etc. All the standard shit.

Since those techniques were only making it worse, I resolved to do something different. I started just going outside periodically. Whether at work, to go out and see the sunshine, or at home, to feel the cool night air. Also started lifting weights, which can be done effectively in very little time per day (30-45 min) but does wonders to fix my attitude and has made me stronger too, obviously. And whenever I can I walk my kids to school (nice quarter mile walk each way) before heading to work.

The worst thing about my (current) job is that I am remotely stationed two time zones west of my home unit. Sometimes there is a meeting that I have to call into, which ends up being at 6 or 7 in the morning for me, right in the middle of the morning school prep chaos routine. I cope with this by skipping some of the meetings. Sorry, I tell them, I gotta take kids to school. And then I go outside and walk them to school, taking my time.

I'm still working on the teeth grinding problem. Takes a lot of willpower to stop from doing it. Anyone who had similar problems have any advice? I don't grind them in my sleep as far as I know; just consciously throughout the day.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Fishindude on December 17, 2015, 08:50:19 AM
Nothing wrong with a little drinking to loosen up, so long as it doesn't get out of hand.

Lot's of folks don't have hobbies.  You need one or more hobbies that you really enjoy to occupy your spare time year round, and get your mind off work and family obligations.   Could be just about anything.   What interests you?  .... art, music, exercise, woodworking, crafts, cars, movies, cooking, gardening, reading, sports, etc.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: monstermonster on December 17, 2015, 08:57:20 AM

I'm still working on the teeth grinding problem. Takes a lot of willpower to stop from doing it. Anyone who had similar problems have any advice? I don't grind them in my sleep as far as I know; just consciously throughout the day.
You gave good advice, thanks! The thing that made me stop grinding my teeth was stopping drinking coffee/caffeine. 100% I didn't realize how linked it was until I actually quit coffee. Then I'd have a hard week and start drinking coffee again and the jaw pain would come back. YMMV, but that helped a lot.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: monstermonster on December 17, 2015, 09:00:55 AM
Other exercises I enjoy doing are jumping rope and burpees, which takes up very little space. [/size] [/font]
Good luck on your Nepal trip! That sounds amazing.

I should get back into plyometrics/jumping rope! I could do that in the bike room in my apartment building and at the warehouse at my job. Burpees have been on the long-term list when my wrists can support themselves again (I have RA and don't have a lot of wrist strength/can't bare weight on my hands.)
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: monstermonster on December 17, 2015, 09:02:04 AM

*Free clothing from swaps counts as fancy, right?

Definitely.


The break and the sunshine help me tremendously.

You're supposing that we have sunshine where I live. :-P In Oregon we have 6 more months of rain and pretty much no light right now. We're in permanent grey twilight from 9AM-4PM, until we're just in total blackness.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: sisto on December 17, 2015, 09:15:03 AM
I would recommend acupuncture. It takes time and it's not a 1x thing, but it has worked wonders for me. It's also a time that I meditate.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: BlueMR2 on December 17, 2015, 09:56:58 AM
I eat...  I put on 13 lbs in the 2 weeks after thanksgiving.  Sigh.  Tis the season of no sleep and extra pressure to hit all the deadlines that are set for Dec 31st...

Riding my motorcycle helps, but our weather has been so nasty (when it's actually warm enough to ride, it's raining) that today was my first ride in probably 3 months...
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: monstermonster on December 17, 2015, 10:15:18 AM
Nothing wrong with a little drinking to loosen up, so long as it doesn't get out of hand.

Lot's of folks don't have hobbies.  You need one or more hobbies that you really enjoy to occupy your spare time year round, and get your mind off work and family obligations.   Could be just about anything.   What interests you?  .... art, music, exercise, woodworking, crafts, cars, movies, cooking, gardening, reading, sports, etc.

I have a ton of hobbies (I produce two podcasts and sew all of my clothing) but busy season doesn't really let me time for them if I'm going to sleep 7.5 hours/night. It's mostly just breakfast, work, eat, glass of scotch while working, bedtime, repeat. 7 days/week.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: Trudie on December 17, 2015, 10:28:30 AM
I run, listen to my favorite music on Spotify while working, and set limits/boundaries on what I do outside of work.  I am a controller at a private company and this is our year-end, so I can relate.  In some ways, it's helpful to be able to cite work when I don't want to go to every holiday gathering or party.  I try to find downtime at home.

It's hard to deal with all the crappy food.  I try to eat soup at home that's heavy on the veggies.

To deal with the mental part I try to read books on hobbies or other things that interest me.  It helps me to remind myself that I am more than my job and that my job isn't necessarily my life's purpose.  It's much bigger than that.
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: mm1970 on December 17, 2015, 10:56:24 AM
Um, drinking alone while watching television would be at the bottom of my list for reducing stress. Best for me (and science backs me up on this one) is to get moving (go on a walk--wear proper gear if it's raining or walk around indoors at a mall or something, do your favorite at-home workout--situps, jumping jacks, etc.) or do something like yoga. Also, I do as little screen time as possible, since my job involves a lot of screen time. So, I knit, read books, listen to podcasts while doing chores like folding laundry or washing dishes, and sing.
Yes, I used to have a tendency towards wine and TV (sometimes still do!) but I don't think it helps much.

I've had the best luck in my stressful work life (3 layoffs at my company in 2 years) with -
Lunchtime walks.  Sometimes only 20 minutes.
Exercise "challenges". Sometimes on FB, sometimes my own. Examples: 30 day burpee challenge (day 1: 5, day 30: 100), or this month is pushups/planks/squats/crunches.  Even if I don't feel like going to the gym, I don't have to!
Also, giving myself "work breaks".  Honestly, if I'm stressed at work I intentionally cut my hours.
Before bed: herbal tea and crocheting, maybe a game night with the boys.  Or coloring!
I make sure to still eat healthy food, but may have a lot more "easy" nights like frozen pizza, grilled cheese, or quesadillas with microwaved veggies.
If I'm having trouble sleeping: Unisom
Plus I give myself the permission to skip the gym (but still walk and do the pushup/squat thing)
Title: Re: How do you manage work stress?
Post by: smalllife on December 17, 2015, 11:01:01 AM
www.putyouinabettermood.com  - endless supply of puppies and kittens for a quick pick me up

I get grumpy in the winter with the lack of sunlight, increased rain/snow, and inability to garden outside.  Partially following for suggestions!