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Stress Management

Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I spent the weekend recuperating from last week's disasters, and I've also re-written the "lost" chapter of my dissertation. I'm not thrilled with it, but I'm hoping that it's either better than I think or that my advisor will have some helpful comments during the editing process.

I'm hoping to sit down with my boss sometime next week and figure out exactly what my portfolio is going to be. Whatever went on last week just can't continue. I was ridiculously stressed out and exhausted from over-work.

Speaking of, how do you super-academic types deal with stress? I'm not a very good multi-tasker, and all this lurching from deadline to deadline makes me a little crazy. Brazen Hussy says that she makes lists to give her some feeling of control, but I don't know if that would work for me. The last time I had a high-stress job, I'd tried a sort of Hellenistic/Zen approach of emotional detachment - just treating as something peripheral to my real, internal life. The approach had some advantages, but it was a lot of work and I wonder sometimes if this is an unhealthy way to deal with the world. Aren't I suppose to care about things?

P.S. I'm going to try and ignore the Presidential nomination contest until it's over. Watching good candidates attack each other every day over stupid stuff is just demoralizing.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:11 PM
  • Vodka!

    Seriously, I do make lists and try to handle one crisis at a time.

    Working out helps me when I am frustrated. That and listening to ACDC's Back in Black!

    By Blogger Seeking Solace, at 5:10 PM  
  • i was going to say gin.

    By Blogger Anastasia, at 8:59 PM  
  • I think what makes it worse is there aren't any stress free times. I've been a basket case just from the dissertation since before Christmas. It was the first thing I thought of in the morning and took stuff to bed with me. My treat was an hour or so of taped Anthony Bourdain No Reservations...

    Sad as it might sound, I forgot to have a life. I dropped off my 5 chapters today and I've given myself permission to NOT think about it until Saturday. So schedule some time off. Work dissertation, pick something you love and schedule that....

    By Blogger Weezy, at 11:39 PM  
  • I'm with BH - I make lists. Then I promptly ignore them and watch TV, read books, play with my cat, watch my fish and do any number of other things until less than 24 hours until the deadline when i commence freaking out and pull out something amazing at the last minute. (Sometimes I pull out something quite crap, but I'm trying to think positively here).

    I couldn't agree more about the good candidates attacking each other thing. I hope that the democrats will stand behind whomever finally wins and will be able to put all of the petty name calling ridiculousness behind them.

    By Blogger Silk Stocking, at 1:30 AM  
  • I'm not a super-academic type right now, but as I am busier than I ever thought it would be possible for me to be, I have a few comments.

    Basically, I think lists of some kind are absolutely essential for those of us who are trying to juggle many tasks and stay on top of a variety of things.

    If you have time and/or interest in a personal productivity book, I highly recommend David Allen's Getting Things Done. His system is fairly comprehensive and goes well beyond listmaking. I would never embrace or practice all of it, but there are some great takeaways there for anyone, I would think.

    I mention Allen's book because he believes that all of the hundreds or thousands of undone things in our lives take up mental energy (psychic RAM, he calls it), even at a subconscious level. Until those things are written down or stored somewhere, we cannot let go of them to free up our minds for lower stress and higher level processing.

    For my own personal system, I have a notebook with detailed lists and notes (often color-coded). On the front cover, I put two long (grocery list size) post-it notes. On one post-it, I list the three to five highest priority things I have to do at any given time (and I put asterisks beside the ones that must be completed before I go to bed). I use the other post-it at the end of every day to look at my calendar for the day ahead and record a basic outline of appointments interspersed with how I hope to spend the day. It's not as detailed in some ways as the calendar but also includes things that wouldn't be on the calendar. For example:

    7 am--get up and go to exercise class, shower
    --work on proposals and copyediting
    --call XYZ company
    --get coffee before meeting
    11:30 am--meet with publisherwoman to discuss PR
    --clean out inbox
    --work on web project
    --assign stories for next issue
    --take out garbage and recycling
    --read two competitive magazines before bed

    My system isn't perfect, but it works pretty well for me. I'm not suggesting anything like this for you, I just thought you might like the example.

    Good luck with the work situation. I really hope it gets better for you soon.

    By Blogger repressed librarian, at 2:52 AM  
  • Baileys. Or retsina, depending on the season.

    Denial works sometimes. Cleaning the cat box. Or just doing it one thing at a time and trudging through. Not checking email until afternoon is a good start.

    Not nearly as satisfying.

    By Blogger Belle, at 9:26 PM  
  • What's a retsina?

    By Blogger Arbitrista, at 9:26 AM  
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