Stress Challenge Day 4: Stop fighting

I’m slightly delayed with this post I know, but I have a good reason. See I went and had my massage yesterday afternoon, followed by visiting friends that just gave birth. By the time we got home it was after 9.30pm, and by that time it was more important to me to get to bed and try to get some quality sleep.

The massage was fantastic, but today I look like I’ve been punched in the face. I’d originally organised to just get a standard 60mins massage, but when I got there I decided to add the hot stones for an extra $20, and I’m totally glad I did. The masseuse said that she hadn’t seen anyone with my level of tension in quite a while, carried all through my shoulders and the back. This morning I can feel every section that she had to focus on, because my back muscles are sore. All for a great cause though right?

So, onto the stress levels:

Stress level (rating of 1-10; 10 being worst)? 5?
Notes: I had a great start to the morning with a fantastic run down the beach; unfortunately my GPS on my watch dropped out momentarily so I’m not sure of the exact distance or pace, but it felt great. My run had roll-on effects, as I felt more determined and motivated at work than I have in a while. I was productive and in control, and following that, as mentioned above, had a great afternoon and evening. The only residue stress right now is a bit of anxiety about work, as I know I’ve got a fair bit on today but as my comments below will show, I’m just going to focus on doing my best.

Today’s chapter is all about how useless it  can be fighting against a situation you have no power to change. Essentially, this is the most important chapter for me to date. It really hit the nail on the head.

Some of the other key points for me:

  • When I’m able to identify I’m starting to feel stressed, I need to stop, take a breath and really think about what the situation objectively. Take the emotion and the catastrophe out of it, and state the facts. Is everything really as dire and stressful as it seems?
  • Ask if I can change anything in the situation, and if I can, put my energy into changing it. If not, focus on getting over it.
  • Humans often tend to think we are more responsible and in control than we really are

It was all about getting a balanced perspective, which is something I very much need.

The challenge was to pick three of the biggest stressors in my life, and think about what measures are realistically open and in my control in order to minimise the stress. I stared at that list for a while, and came up with a few action points for two of them, but the third was definitely the toughest.

When I stopped and thought about this, I realised where my problems really lay.

We have some challenges at work that are a major cause of my stress. Now before I go any further, I just want to reiterate that this is a personal blog. For that reason I don’t mention where I work, what I do, or anyone involved in it with me. This is about my life and experiences, and not about the workplace. I just want to ensure that it’s completely clear that any comments that I make here are completely my opinion, and not my employer’s. For that reason I don’t go into any detail. Moving on.

The way I used to cope with work stress in the past was work long hours, do jobs that weren’t my responsibility, and literally run myself to the ground trying to make sure absolutely nothing could go wrong. Despite my best efforts, something did go wrong. While I was being productive at work, my health suffered a lot.

Sitting here this morning contemplating the chapter the pieces started clicking into place just a little bit more. I have already been able to see the damage I have done to myself, but the pointlessness of what I had done started to come into focus. At the end of the day, no matter how hard or how long I worked, the stress would always be there. There was always going to be something else that was now deemed critical and top priority, and unless I transformed into a robot without a personal life, it would never end.

The challenge isn’t to get rid of the tasks causing the stress, it’s to address whether it’s actually necessary to stress in the first place.

I can tell you right now that I’m not going to be able to walk into work this morning and think “I’m not stressed anymore, I can’t fight this stuff”. But I can make the commitment to myself that when I start to feel a bit stressed I can try to step back a bit, try to think about what is within my power to change, and if there’s nothing, then I’ll just do the best damn job I can.

At the end of the day I need to be able to go home and think “I did my best”.

I need to give myself the tools so that I do feel like I’m doing things in the right order and whatever is within my power to do. If something does end up going a little bit wrong, I want to have complete clarity on the reasons why I made the decisions I made. If someone challenges that decision, I shouldn’t take that as a personal indicator that I’ve failed. I need to understand that there may be things I hadn’t considered, learn from that, and move on.

Ultimately, whatever isn’t done at the end of the day is a shame, but I haven’t failed, and I absolutely should not go home and work extra hours to get it done. I need to go home and do the best I can for me, and those that are important to me. If I can do that, then a long, happy and successful life are ahead of me.

It sounds so simple on paper doesn’t it. Now to put it into practice.

This is literally the reason why I love blogging. It helps me to analyse and give me some perspective.

Thanks for listening.

Let me know your thoughts!