AMA: How Do You De-Stress?

I’ve recently had a few folks ask something along the lines of, “how do you care for yourself, personally, and deal with the stress from work?”
It’s actually kind of a simple answer, but it comes in a few parts.

Part One is that I take great pain to care for my career. My career is the thing I own, and it’s the thing that gets me a job. Having a solid career means I’m not terrified of finding a new job, should the need arise. That means I can take a less-than-existential view about my current job. 
Part Two is that, honestly, in a hundred years it won’t make any difference. What happens at work, I mean. I enjoy my job (and I really, actually do) because I’m contributing to something that I think will have at least a short-term, positive impact in the world. I enjoy my colleagues, and I like what I do. When things go wrong, I want to fix them, because that’s just who I am. But I’m not going to stress about it. I work to catch myself stressing out, and actively tell myself to knock it off.
Case in point: I once wrote a Point of Sale (POS) system for a former employer. Part of the task was taking a download of the store’s item database from the home office mainframe, and parsing that into a local database to perform price lookups and whatnot. I wrote the code, and on the first test, parsing out the 20,000-item master item list took seven hours. Yeah. Seven. I Freaked The F Out. Ask friend and colleague Mark Rouse, if you can find him. I got loud about it. But, I was young. I lacked context. I lacked experience. I’ve since learned that I can probably fix problems like that if I focus on them instead of stressing out about them. So I counsel myself, nowadays.
Part Three is that I’m judicious with my mental health time. I’m not going to take a week of vacation to do something that stresses me out, like visiting family. I’m going to do something that relaxes me, like going to a Disney park or a tropical island. And I plan those trips to avoid stress, making sure that all the things that might go wrong – missed connection, poor weather, whatever – have a matching contingency plan so that I can continue to relax and not worry about it. Stress, for me, comes from something unplanned-for coming up and ruining the day. So I plan a little obsessively and have backup plans, which keeps me from stressing.
That’s kinda it, but I’m curious to see what other people offer in their comments!

You might also like

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

1 comment

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I completely agree with all three parts. The only things I would add that has helped me reduce work stress is:
1. Learning to use the GTD system ( at work as well as in my personal life and
2. Studying and applying Stoic philosophy ( which kinds relates back to Don's quote, "in a hundred years it won’t make any difference".