Live Well: Keep Calm

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Over the past few weeks, I've had not one, but two doctors tell me that I need to calm down. In retrospect, that probably shouldn't have been all that surprising.

In general, I consider myself to be a pretty self-contained person: I have always had a stressful job (or gone to a stressful school) but for the most part, I think I keep that stress in check pretty darn well. At least, I thought I did. Recent visits with healthcare professionals have made me think otherwise. My dentist, after evaluating my major teeth grinding problem as being caused by stress, told me I should chill out. Stress was not being kind to my teeth. My doctor, after I told her I'd been having trouble breathing, told me that I was just fine - it's just my body was overworked, over-stressed, and was therefore shortening my breath so I would be forced to move more slowly. In both cases, nothing was wrong with me physically - it was all a mental issue.

For the most part, I have a "no pain, no gain" mentality - most of the time stressful school and jobs are the way to get what you want out of life, like financial security and career success. And I want to have a challenging, engaging job. But I'm starting to realize that sometimes it's just too much.

Let's just say things have been crazy for me these past couple weeks. I won't bore you with a laundry list of the hours that I've worked, but I've now spent several nights staying up well past midnight, in front of my computer screen for hours upon hours and yet still not getting everything done. Cue my shortness of breath - the thought of all the hours left to put in, all the things left to do, often leaves me breathless with stress.

They're not going to stop handing me things to do at work, and I don't want them to. But I've decided it's time to focus on taking my doctors' advice, and calming down. So, here's my three step plan for making it through December:

1) Hit the gym. Ever since worked ramped up for me, my gym attendance has ramped way, way down. I mean, how am I going to wake up at 5:30AM when I'm up until midnight (or later) working? I'm realizing that the answer is less work, more gym - I'm going to try to start shutting everything off at 10PM so I can get the exercise that will help me calm down. Sometimes it's totally fine to put things off until the next day.

2) Drink some wine. Is there anything more cathartic? I haven't drank wine regularly on week nights in ages - I think it's time to start again.

3) Count down. Right now, I have 13 work days standing between me and our Christmas trip to Austin. The first thing I will be thinking about every morning will be how many days I have left before we leave (and I get a break) - it'll help me keep my eye on the prize, and remind me that a few work-free days are in my not-so-distant future!

Hopefully I'll have nothing but good things to report these next few weeks. Also, I'd love to know - how do you manage stress?