Friday, March 22, 2013

Ever Feel Like Your Rope Could Break? My Friend Offers Advice




Sometimes, blogs come to me based on conversations I’ve recently had with the multitude of super-smart people I'm fortunate to know or by way of reading other articles or blogs.  Today, I read a message posted on Facebook by a friend from college who works for the US Department of State in Europe.  

I’ll call my friend Jane.  Jane’s post had nothing to do with security jobs or security recruiting but it has everything to do with life.  I thought you might appreciate what Jane had to share.  It sounded to me like Jane has a friend who is hanging onto what is left of a rope.  Been there and done that!

My day was not so bad, however, I know someone who has had a bad day, and this is not the first. I have been there. I have worked through periods in my life when I thought I would never make it to the other side. I can't be sure, but I think that now I have learned something.

What I've learned is this:

If you stick it out, it will get better. But you have to have a goal. The goal helps you make it through those tough days. If the goal doesn't satisfy, here are a couple more tricks to try. I always have a friend whose office I can just go to and vent. Someone that I trust to keep confidences and just listen; someone who will not judge. Keep in mind, you owe them the same courtesy later.

Next, if the venting doesn't help, and the stress gets worse, do not be afraid to find someone professional to talk to. Many friends I know have actually had a physical problem which was causing the stress to be unbearable, but they may not have even realized it. Medical professionals can be very good friends. They're there for a reason. Use them. 

Sick days exist for a reason. Don't take advantage, but if you find yourself crashing every night at 8pm; you are exhausted at work; and you feel like you can't drag yourself through another day, perhaps you should take an unexpected "you day." It's not a lie to say you're sick if you are, in fact, experiencing failure to function.

Finally, reward yourself. If you work hard for a month, you get a project done, perhaps you could take a colleague out to coffee one morning and talk about life. There's no rule that work can only be at the desk typing out answers to the thousands of emails we all receive. At some point networking and morale building should play into everyone's idea of work. Take time to recharge so that your work is more productive!

Please add your own tips in the comments section. I'd love to know how you deal with work stress. I've got a friend that could use some ideas.
 I had a response to Jane’s request.  Here is what I shared:

Jane: Thank you for your original thought content on Facebook. I’ve discovered that this is really the only kind of information I like to read as original thought from my connections is the thought that helps me to understand who I’m connected to. I know my solution won’t be right for everybody but 3.25 years ago I started playing hockey for the first time in my life to get in better shape, to help me manage stress and for a few other reasons.

As with any complex physical activity we decide to engage in throughout life, there is a period of time when new physical fitness must be developed. Then, as was the case with hockey, I had to learn how to skate at a much higher level than I’d ever done before. I had to learn to handle a stick and puck for the first time and I had to learn how the game of hockey works.

This new activity rewarded me with mental and physical challenges that continue on to this day as I continue to play. Taking up the sport of hockey may not be the answer for your friend but something else that requires heart benefiting exercise and enough mental challenge to help him/her forget about the rest of life for a while just might be right.

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