Author Topic: Mustachian stress relief tactics  (Read 5433 times)

maryofdoom

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 221
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Southwestern PA
  • Jeopardy! loser since 2010
Mustachian stress relief tactics
« on: April 04, 2013, 09:11:23 AM »
Hi friends,

I am having a bad, stressful time at work. This happens to me every year at this time (it's project management for a conference that is at the end of April). I have tried lifestyle engineering to get out of it; I have tried asking my boss to put me on a different assignment. Nothing has worked.

As a result, the stress is 100% unavoidable. I have to be in the office every single day from today until the end of the month, which I hate, and I also have no decision-making power for this project, which I hate even more. I'm relying on other people to get me the information I need to produce the printed materials that are required, and I think we can all agree that that particular situation sucks and sucks hard.

Best of all, if I do everything perfectly, all I get in the way of recognition is not being in trouble. The leader of this project is free with criticism and stingy with praise, and has very exacting standards. If something is not perfect, you better believe that I will hear about it, and often.

Anyway, enough complaining. What I want to know is, what do you do to reduce the unavoidable stresses in your life? I know the ideal tactic is to reduce the stressful situations as much as possible, but when you can't do that, what do you do?

The things I am doing thus far include:
  • getting as much sleep as possible (though it's difficult; I go to bed and my mind starts racing with all the things that I have do and it's hard to fall asleep)
  • eating healthy lunches that I cook myself over the weekends (the stressful times are only during the week and thus I have my weekends free)
  • trying to enjoy time doing my favorite hobby (embroidery) in the evenings

Exercise is also a good option. I plan to start heading out with the husband in the afternoons when he takes the dog for a walk; it's been super cold here and I've been a wuss about getting outside and doing stuff. But today it's supposed to warm up enough so it's not miserable out.

What works for you when you have to deal with unavoidable, stressful things?

Use it up, wear it out...

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 224
  • Location: Brooklyn, NYC
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013, 09:15:01 AM »
Vipassana meditation, not just for the sitting time, but practicing mindfulness while in the stressful situation.

DoubleDown

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2057
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2013, 09:57:00 AM »
For me, it's faith in God, knowing He always provides for and looks after me. Nothing horrific is going to come my way that I can't handle with His help. Knowing that allows me to let go of the worry about everything.

But even an atheist or cynic could call it Negative Visualization, Not Getting Too Emotionally Invested, or even Not Giving a F***. Meaning, I try to put everything in perspective, recognizing little things like this for what they are (little) in the scheme of things. Realize that many of us are inclined to needlessly worry about things, including things we can't even control, and worrying adds nothing. When I was young I was in that camp, and discovered that it's completely unnecessary and unhealthy.

If you are now inclined to stress over these things, I encourage you to have faith that everything is going to turn out just fine, and watch what happens. And if you insist on indulging stressful thoughts, try this: Take everything to its logical negative extreme, and ask, "What's the worst that can happen?" So say your printed materials are a disaster, and it's all your fault. What's the worst that can happen? Your boss gets mad and yells? So what. Say it happens again next year and they're so upset, they fire you? So what, you will get a different job, probably one that's more suited to you. You've come this far just fine, you're not going to have your life fall apart over the latest micro-problem of the day. Then just let go of the worry, realizing that everything is going to be fine. Life is too important to get wrapped up in those things. Stay focused on the things that matter: God, Family, your health, living the life you want.

And as already mentioned, exercise, relaxing hobbies, and meditation are all excellent tactical ways to take on the physiological side of things.

jrhampt

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1087
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Connecticut
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 10:02:27 AM »
The good thing is that you know it's for a finite period of time.  I would try to focus on that and visualize next month when it's over.  Has it gotten bad enough for you to consider switching jobs, or is the rest of the year fine?

maryofdoom

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 221
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Southwestern PA
  • Jeopardy! loser since 2010
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2013, 10:25:47 AM »
These are all excellent ideas.

Jrhampt, the rest of the year is mostly fine. I keep bouncing around on different tasks at this workplace, though I think I may finally have found something that will stick (that isn't working on this lousy conference). There is a new policy against working from home without "a compelling reason," which sticks in my craw, because I have enjoyed working from home as quite an excellent perk that makes up for a lot of frustration.

The main problem is really the lack of autonomy. I am working on this project for one guy who is not my boss. The guy can make my life miserable, but he doesn't have the power to fire me if something really gets screwed up.

My plan is to use good performance on this task to get leverage for things that I want, like the option to work from home more, or the option to install a treadmilll desk in my office (just like the one that I installed at home). I also want to work more on things that really interest me, which is something that can also be done. I just need to get to April 19 first without things falling apart or (figuratively) exploding.

The beginning of PA's second of two seasons (winter, and Road Work) is also not helping, but that truly cannot be helped.

jrhampt

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1087
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Connecticut
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 10:40:31 AM »
mmm, yes...a new wah policy would be a dealbreaker for me.  Maybe it's time to come up with a "compelling reason"? 

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 12:19:04 PM »
There is a new policy against working from home without "a compelling reason," which sticks in my craw, because I have enjoyed working from home as quite an excellent perk that makes up for a lot of frustration.

Depends on your situation, but I would say "If I can't work from home, I quit!" is a pretty compelling reason :-)

For stress relief, I find that nothing really beats strenuous exercise.

tuyop

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 331
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2013, 12:50:16 PM »
For stress relief, I find that nothing really beats strenuous exercise.

Yeah, definitely, maybe try checking out a crossfit gym? It'll also help to make you tired so you can sleep better.

ShavenLlama

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 132
  • Location: Orange, CA
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2013, 01:06:59 PM »
I'm going through a pretty craptacular period at work myself. Tons of politics, and I've lost most of the flexibility and autonomy that made this job bearable. And then I didn't get a better job that I was interviewing for, which really bummed me out.

I've been going to a yoga studio for a few weeks, and it has helped a lot with dealing with the stress of stupid people. I'm still having issues falling asleep as that's when my mind starts going. But there was a particularly bad situation recently where I had to listen to someone describe all of my shortcomings and personality flaws, and I was able to just concentrate on my breath and sort of tune the d-bag out for a while. I really surprised myself by not quitting on the spot.

I'd say find some way to exercise your body, as you'll at least feel better physically. And remind yourself that this guys problems are his, and you only have a few weeks to deal with them. And have a stiff drink. And keep being awesome.

anastrophe

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 561
  • Location: New England
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2013, 01:15:11 PM »
My plan is to use good performance on this task to get leverage for things that I want, like the option to work from home more, or the option to install a treadmilll desk in my office (just like the one that I installed at home). I also want to work more on things that really interest me, which is something that can also be done. I just need to get to April 19 first without things falling apart or (figuratively) exploding.

Your plan is solid. Focus on that. When you start to feel your heart rate going up, go full stop and think about your end goals.

I am prone to severe anxiety and things-you-can't-control can be the worst most stressful thing. Nthing strenous exercise and meditation (in combination?). A walk on your lunch break in the sunshine counting your breath can be really helpful, then go home and lift really heavy things--it helps you sleep better and kills off stress hormones and gives you a better goal to work towards. And if you can, take a full minute every half hour to close your eyes and say some kind of prayer or mantra or imagine a tree or whatever relaxes you. I use a plugin for my browser to remind me.

And don't let this guy get inside your head. Watch your reactions to him and make sure you aren't taking it to heart or reading things into it that aren't there. Keep a notebook or encrypted file for venting/analysis if that kind of thing helps you.

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1728
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2013, 01:22:29 PM »
I had a job once where I took breaks going up and down the emergency stairs and taking rides in the freight elevator---it was so nice to be alone a few minutes as I had a shared office.  Now I do meditation, sometimes with my chinese meditation balls, for just three or four minutes.  If you haven't seen it, watch the movie The Devil Loves Prada.  Think about how miserable your boss must be to be acting that way toward others.  Think of your boss as an out of control toddler, whose behavior you will not approve of, but you will tolerate because it's not unexpected.  What I did for years but finally quit, as it never made me feel better, was find co workers who would commiserate with me. 

Would you please start a thread about the treadmill desk?  I am planning to put one in my office ('though it never occurred to me to ask permission...yikes).

maryofdoom

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 221
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Southwestern PA
  • Jeopardy! loser since 2010
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2013, 01:41:48 PM »
Dee, I have a treadmill desk at home, and I love it. The only bad thing is that now, working from home is less of an option, so I don't get to use it as much as I did before. Which sucks.

When I say "ask permission to install one," it would go like this:
 - get the okay from my boss to do it
 - ask my co-workers if they're all right with that (the lady in the office across the hall likes it QUIET all the time, and my office shares a wall with another office, so I'll have to make sure the guy in that office is fine)
 - get permission from Facilities to do such a thing
 - ask Facilities to remove all the desk furniture in the office
 - buy treadmill and desk setup (more in another thread about how I did this at home)
 - go to office one weekend, with husband and possibly husband's burly best friend, to set up treadmill and desk

Of course, this solution leaves me with two treadmill desks, which is kind of dumb. I think convincing boss to let me work from home at least one and possibly two days a week is better.

Knowing that this time period of stressful times is of a finite duration is very helpful. I am planning on heading home soon to go walk the dog and hang out with the husband, which will also help.

justchristine

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 405
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2013, 01:56:01 PM »
I can sympathize.  I have one co-worker (a peer) that tends to make my life miserable everytime we are on a project together.  I struggle with managing the stress, too.  I used to use my stationary bike as my main stress reliever when I got home but nagging hip pain has sidelined that.  While searching for a new type of exercising that I wouldn't hate, I came across rebounding (jumping on a mini-trampoline).  Honestly this is the most fun I've had exercising since I was a kid.   My knee and hip pain are gone.  The constant tension in my neck and upper back from stress is gone.  I love it and seems to really be helping with my stress levels.

I'm also a big fan of sipping my hot cocoa in silence when I need to decompress.

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8268
  • Age: 63
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: Mustachian stress relief tactics
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2013, 12:19:36 AM »
I work remote most days and travel the rest for a boss who hates people working remote. I told him I was moving to Maine (our main office is NYC) and that I could work remote or we could part friends. I took a small pay cut and in exchange have all my travel expenses covered. Two things clinched the deal: 1) he knows I get the work done and 2) he knew I really meant it.