This year I hit my 10 year anniversary at my full-time job and in that time I’ve taken 3 sick days and 1 full month’s worth of vacation time. My vacations mostly include weekend getaways or an extra day off after the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday.
Does this sound familiar to you too?
Good, then I don’t feel like I’m the only workaholic crazed person…err I mean productive and driven person. Getting to the place where I didn’t have time to be sick or take a nice vacation didn’t just happen overnight. I started listening to little voices in my head.
No, not the ones in movies that haunt people. I’m talking about the overwhelming work and stress related thoughts that dart in and out of my mind. I call it “stress noise”. The noise that follows me home after a hard day at work or at school. The thoughts that keep me awake when I lay down to sleep at night, reminding me of my long to-do list for the next day.
Successfully coping with stress noise isn’t easy and while it’s a constant battle, I’ve learned a few ways to deal with it.
Doing a physical task like cleaning, organizing or washing the car does wonders to clear my mind. Going for a hike or nice jog is great too, not only to get the blood pumping but to distract my mind with other things (like breathing since I’m out of shape). It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous, just something that gets you moving and focused on your body instead of what’s in your mind.
Multitasking takes a lot of skill, a skill that I and the majority of others don’t possess. So I don’t try to multitask anymore. I like to focus on one thing, and do it really well. It silences the long list of work noise being thrown at me and helps me to just think about the one task at hand. Checking off the to-do list one at a time might seem to take longer, but in reality I get more motivated by each task I’ve completed.
Compartmentalize Your Life
Within my mind I have circles, certain parts of my life, work and relationships that I put into sections. This almost gets into an aspect of dissociative thinking, but I don’t want to be that extreme. As you can see on the graph, stress noise is always trying to come crushing in on my friends, fun and family life.
By compartmentalizing these categories in my head I can qualify what belongs in which circle. If it’s time to be at work then I try not to take personal phone calls or answer any personal messages. If it’s time to be at home, then I focus on my family, friends and relaxing. Any work or business related topics (aka noise) doesn’t belong in personal time, and vice versa.
This keeps my work from affecting my social life, my friends from affecting my family life, and if need be it separates my work, friends and family drama from my own peace of mind. It’s an important aspect to remaining sane, otherwise all the pressure and stress crashes in on me and I lose myself (and my sanity).
Do you experience work or life noise? How do you deal with it?
Photo Credit: Dottie Mae