Sunday, September 18, 2011

How I Manage Stress

People often ask how I've worked so many hours a week for so many years without burning out. My keys to stress management are:
  • I am mainly self-employed so no one controls what I do. And when I want to work for others, I accept only work that would give me autonomy.
  • I try, not always successfully, to work without rushing.
  • I realize I can survive any failure. For example, let's say my boss at the radio station fired me for saying something he didn't like. I'd try to find a better radio station, at least one that won't fire me because I said one wrong thing. And even if I never worked in radio again, I'd find something else, maybe something even better to do. I can survive anything except end-stage cancer.
  • When I get stressed, I use very quick stress reducers: I take deep breaths, pet my dog Einstein, or take him for a walk. Even more potent,
  • I use the Stop Technique:
    1. Realize that all of us deserve to not be shackled by worry, even if I've made mistakes. We all have.
    2.As soon as a worrisome thought enters my consciousness, I say "Stop!" and quickly replace it with a productive activity.
    3. If I can't distract yourself, I ask myself, "What's the most likely positive outcome?" That eases my anxiety. Then, "What's the worst that's likely to happen? How could I cope with that?" I could, couldn't I?"
You needn't reduce your stress to zero. Indeed, you'd probably then be bored, torpid. But these ideas should at least help keep the lid on.


Annie said...

I have another tip to add here. When I remember to deploy this strategy, it usually works.

As soon as I feel myself becoming very stressed and anxious, I pull out a sheet of paper and just start writing it out. Usually this is just a series of words at first ("not done," "overwhelm," "too fast"). And then I'll start to write out all possible outcomes that I'm worried about.

What I've discovered is that so much of anxiety is brought forth by harbouring incomplete thoughts related to the outcome. By actually getting to the very end of some of these thoughts, I'm able to read them and they lose power.

So I stop, and I start writing it all out. Maybe for 10-15 minutes. The stress will dissipate because seeing complete worries, on paper, really makes them seem silly.

Frustrated Fed said...

I LOVE this statement: "I am mainly self-employed so no one controls what I do. And when I want to work for others, I accept only work that would give me autonomy." I wish you could teach us all how to be self-employed. It would be worth the fee.

Marty Nemko said...


I do that for half my clients. But I have written a lot about it, for example:


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