What I’m watching: I’ve already binged the third season of Stranger Things but I’m rewatching it. I plan to start watching the new season of Mindhunter because I’m obsessed with crime thrillers and serial killers.
What I’m listening to: An Apple Music playlist called Smash the 90s that includes everything you are thinking.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself on an epic roller coaster ride of stress both positive and negative. My anxiety is slowly creeping higher (nowhere near the levels before my digital detox). My creative juices are low. Both mean my productivity feels subpar. (I say feels because again – anxiety makes me super critical of myself; I did manage to crank out a 16-page newsletter for our 15000 residents during this time). Throw in several significant announcements that are great for my community – but the wormhole that is social media comments have made managing these a headache – and let’s just say it’s been a rough ride the last four weeks.
But I’ve been managing the roller coaster pretty well because I have the tools to do so, and I thought I’d share six ways that I cope with anxious and stressful situation in hopes there might be a hidden gem that you can use the next time you feel like crawling under your desk and hiding from the citizens who visit your office. (Wait, what!?)
- Acknowledge it. For the longest time, I would just plow through everything like a bulldozer. Now I take the time to acknowledge the stress, sit with my feelings, and figure out where my emotions are coming from.
- Question your thought patterns. This has taken some time, but when I feel myself on that downhill spiral of negative thoughts; I challenge myself out loud and question what I’m thinking. The majority of the time, they are ridiculous when I say them out loud. So I acknowledge that and move on.
- Take deep breaths. My therapist (yes, I’m not afraid to admit I see a therapist), and I have worked through some focused, deep breathing techniques. If I need to, I shut my door, turn off my computer and spend about 5 – 10 minutes just breathing. It’s not a full-blown meditation (that happens every morning before work), but it’s enough to get me through the day.
- Ask for help. This is really the most prominent tool that we all have, but it’s one that sometimes is the last thing you think of. But getting over my own ego and asking for help has been incredibly beneficial on several projects this month. And no one thought any less of me.
- Not my monkeys, not my circus. Another trick from my therapist I’ve been using is figuring out if the situation that I’m stressing or anxious about is even something I have any control over. I might have some part in the “circus,” but I am not the ringmaster (in most cases). This doesn’t mean not being a member of the team or helping others out – but it does mean that when there’s an issue with an engineering contractor and project that is delayed, I can’t control that. Yes, it’s stressful, it’s not pleasant…but I’m not the public works director. It’s not my monkey, it’s not my circus.
- Leave work at the office. This is the hardest, but I’m doing my best to leave my work at the office. We all know we should do this, but we don’t. I make a point of turning off notifications from work accounts on my cell phone at 6 p.m. each night and on the weekend. I make sure that I’m spending time with my human support system. I’ve got a casual part-time job at a taproom where I can geek out on craft beer. I go for walks, I eat dinner out with friends. Because the truth is, the work will be where I left it when I come into the office the next morning.