346 days: Stress Management, Part 2

Quick recap: I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013. And squeeze in some training for Ironman Lake Tahoe (and other events).

Ragnar Northwest Passage registration is open. Four commitments are in, 8 more to go… If I get 2 more commitments I will register the team. I’ll post more specific details on Friday on what all this means…

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it yet this week! This week for triathletes is much like the buildup a child experiences as Christmas nears. The big race is on Saturday! The Ironman World Championships! The 140.6 mile granddaddy of them all! For anybody who follows the sport you need only say one word to capture it all: Kona. I will be watching live streaming coverage of the race all day Saturday.

Big news in the endurance sports world yesterday. For those who haven’t heard, the evidence against Lance Armstrong was released and it is overwhelming. I’ll post my stance on this tomorrow. Hint: I am still wearing yellow. And tomorrow I will tell you why.

Earlier this week we were talking about STRESS. Doesn’t just seeing that word, particularly when it is in all capital letters – in red bold print – stress you out?

I shared how I have a tendency to regress and throw full meltdown temper tantrums when I get really stressed out. I even talked about a metaphorical cookie (since I don’t really eat cookies it has to be metaphorical – my body really does reject cookies).

Some of you shared your current stress stories. Others shared how you deal with stress in general. I’ll present a few of these to you and solicit your opinions. Starting… now!

Editor’s note: these stories are based on those I received. I’ve changed some names, facts, and figures in order to protect the innocent. And I apologize in advance, I took some editorial/artistic liberties…

Case A) Several large work projects, each contingent upon the successful completion of each other, grind on and on. Meetings and day-long training sessions keep on interrupting work on these projects. Add on social commitments that really can’t be canceled. Pair all of this with the need to sleep and eat – heck, even finding time to use the restroom is difficult! It is looking bleak that this will even remotely begin to ease up within the next week! Arg! The short-term solution to free up some time and mental energy is to stock up on junk food and prepared meals… but what this person REALLY wants to do is register for a race.

Case B) Months into a long-term project the results are just starting to pour in. Each night this week has been spent in front of the computer until at least 1am, only to return to the same spot a mere 4 or 5 hours later to repeat the process all over again. Instead of making the commute to and from the office (2 hours of driving, 4 hours by public transit), the 18+ hour work days are spent at the home office, the “hidey hole”, with frequent meetings conducted via videoconferencing. There are still two months until the deadline will be reached, but it is already known and accepted that there is not even a remote chance that deadline will be met. And no end in sight to the 18+ hour work days. Honestly, there is no time to have a panic attack or stress meltdown; that would waste too many hours in the day.

Case C) Big time clients – names you would know – have reorganized, fundamentally changing the working relationship. This has increased the level of responsibility and expectation beyond their previously ridiculously high standards. Plus there is an upcoming conference and a featured presentation/workshop at a technical conference – a “win” at this event could have major, perhaps life altering, ramifications. Oh, and surgery on Friday to repair a painful, lingering issue. Once again, no time to be stressed, otherwise it could all crumble. Work. Eat. Sleep. That is pretty much all there is time to think about.

Case D) It is harvest season. The fruit needs to come in off seemingly endless acres of vines, at the exact perfect moment otherwise the wine won’t be just right. An unexpected spike in temperatures: bad. Sudden rainstorm: tragic. In this economy, and with the steep competition in the industry, any imperfection in the wine (real or imagined) could have devastating financial consequences. Even those without religious beliefs pray with the vigor of pious monks this time of year.

Case E) When stress hits the best way to cope is by writing lists. And write lists keeping track of the lists. If it is on the list, a plan can be made to tackle it. There is a list of plans around here somewhere… There is even a list of things to do to relax: Get a massage, open a special bottle of wine, eat really good chocolate, a pound of cheese and some great bread. Hey, they’re on the LIST!

Case F) Personal life has gone to hell in a handbasket. Trying to “do the right thing” but get taken advantage of and have pretty much lost, or risk losing, everything that has taken years of hard work to build up. There really isn’t any reasonable way out… particularly when doing the right thing just digs a deeper hole. And more opportunity to be taken advantage of… again. Simply too exasperated and numb to even really feel the stress, frankly.

Six case studies in stress and stress-coping mechanisms. Sometimes it just feels good to write the stressors down. Get it off your chest. Vent a little. Eat a cookie?

Those whose stories I used, thanks for sharing! I enjoyed (stressed out?) reading your stories. I hope writing it down helped you manage and confront your stress a bit. I know, in some backwards way, confronting the topic of stress during a very stressful week has helped me keep perspective. It helped limit my reaction to the stress… and prevented a complete 2-year old tempter tantrum meltdown from happening to me this week. Yay! Small victories!

So, now I need your help. Lots of stress going on out there. Of the case studies you’ve read, who do you think “deserves a break today”? (OMG! I can’t believe I just quoted a McDonald’s commercial! Nooooo!) The case study that gets the most votes one week from today – by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday October 18 – will get a little bit of a break. A bit of stress relief.

And, finally… one of these stories, though likely an actual and real stress, is a story I made up. Any guesses?

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