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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Do You Deal With Workplace Stress?


Today, at Working Mommy Wednesday, we’re answering the following question:  What do you do when you get overwhelmed at work?

In other words, how do you handle workplace stress?

For me, workplace stress invokes three predictable coping strategies:  Coffee, Potty Mouth, and Prayer.

Coping mechanism #1:  Coffee.  Coffee is key.  And when I get stressed, more coffee is key.  I am known to run on caffeine and shear adrenaline for days.  Who said anything about regular nutrition and self care? 

I’ll be sitting in a meeting -- working on a tight deadline – and I’ll turn to my colleagues and say, “How would you like to step out and get some coffee?”

Coffee helps me think.

And it’s not just the coffee.  It’s the 5-minute walk out of the office.  It’s the fresh air.  It’s taking a moment to be human.

A coffee break helps me put things in perspective and get outside of the four walls of my office.

Coping mechanism #2:  Potty mouth.   As much as I hate to admit it, stress in my life invokes potty mouth.  And something about using strong language – calling it like it is – feels good in the moment. 

It’s a release.

The other day, a nameless opposing counsel was being extremely annoying.   And there were no PG words to describe his behavior (I looked hard for them – ok, maybe not that hard, but you get the point). 
Sometimes, you need to call a spade a spade.

I’m not saying it’s right.  It’s just my reality. 

Coping mechanism #3:  Prayer.  I’d like to say that I pray first, but I’d be lying.  When I’m at work, prayer is often at the bottom of the list. 

So when my caffeine and potty mouth aren’t working, I think to myself, Oh yeah, I guess I could pray about it, huh?

Why don’t I pray first?  I’m really not sure.  Maybe it’s because I think God doesn’t care about my work.  God, do you really want me to pray about document productions and jury verdicts?  Maybe it’s because I work in such a secular environment.  God, sometimes I just can’t see any evidence of spiritual activity around me.  Maybe it’s because I’m human.  God, I’m sorry I don’t come to you first, frankly I tend to forget.

Sometimes, workplace stress brings out the worst in me.  Other times, it brings out the best in me.  I’m guessing I’m not alone.


So, how do you deal with workplace stress?


Ali@LastSplash said...

Susan I LOVE this! The combo of Potty Mouth and Prayer has been used many times in my more stressful moments. Whenever I curse in front of my hubby, he likes to remind me of my position as "prayer director" of my women's group at church.

Eyvonne said...

For me, coping involves some time alone. I HAVE to have it. I've learned that over time. If it's really bad, I'll jump in the car, turn the radio up very loud, and go for a drive. There may or may not be tears involved.

The thing that keeps coming back to me every time my mouth wants to get out of hand is the verse that says "Out of the heart, the mouth speaks." That usually stops me in my tracks. It used to be struggle for me, but that particular challenge is getting better.

Mama Insomnia said...

I'm not terribly religious, but I am totally with you on the Potty Mouth. Visiting form WMW!!

Tami said...

I am with you on the potty mouth. I sat here this morning and had to laugh at that one since I am gilty of it as well. When I do do it I think to self I wish I could catch that one in the air.

Emily said...

I sometimes need a good, strong curse, and I'm totally willing to admit that, although I pray all the time in my personal life, I don't think about it much in my professional life. It would probably work better than the swearing.:)

Julie Cragon said...

You make me laugh. St. Mary's is 5 stories and the top is for extra stock and my office. It's the only place I can hide when stressed. I have to be alone in my office or in the driveway in my car.

Unpolished Parenting said...

Isn't this the truth! I don't do the coffee, but stepping out for fresh air and getting away from my desk is a nice stree reliever. And yes, a few choice words do have healing powers at times. Come to think of it, the only time I've prayed about work is when I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it and I pray to God that He will ease my anxiety and help me get a good night's rest. You really bring up a good point of why we don't pray more about work - it's a good question!

Oh and I got the book in the mail yesterday! Thanks :)

Heidiopia said...

You are such a delight! Coffee for sure is #1!! Then I try to find something-- anything-- to make me laugh. It's not too hard, given that I work with 4 yr olds! Potty mouth is not an option in my workplace :(, but it rears its head at home for sure. Prayer is #3 for me too, and I work in a Christian school!! Something for me to work on, obviously!

Laura said...

I love your honesty, Susan! do I deal with workplace stress? I'm a high school teacher, and if they see something gets to me, it's like blood in the water! I usually put on my actress face, take a deep breath, make a joke, and go on.

...then my husband hears all about it once I get home. He's a great listener.

Rachel M. said...

I LOVE YOUR HONESTY! My mom reads my blog so I'd never admit to having a potty mouth but working in a secular environment and hearing co-workers swear every day has put words in my mouth more often than I'd like to admit. It's something I'm working on weeding out of my system and going to prayer first.

mrsgleffter said...

Thanks for being so honest. Potty mouth is usually my 2nd stress relief - right after caffeine in the form of chocolate or soda. I often wonder why I don't go to prayer first either.

Susan DiMickele said...

Too funny. Today was one of those "high stress" days, so thanks for the comments!

Am just getting home from work and I'm exhausted!

Julia said...

coffee............... yes!!!!!!!! hehe. i'm not much of a potty mouth. and i need to pray more, more more more!!!!!!!! thanks for the reminder.

David Rupert said...

Coffee, cussin, and prayer...

This maybe one of the most honest posts I've ever read!

Graceful said...

Oh this one made me laugh -- we are cut from the same cloth, girl. I've been known to drop the f-bomb at work. Not my classiest moment, but hey, it's happened.

Laura said...

Susan, you crack me up! And I think we must be kindred spirits in all three of these. I'm working on "not necessarily in this order". I'll keep you posted on how that's going (wink). said...

That's funny about the potty mouth as a coping mechanism. I don't think it's so bad to use a pointed descriptor once in a while, espcially when it fits. (Thanks for being honest.)

Prayer is important, too. Sometimes just to stop and acknowledge what is going on, that we are even under stress, to help get through. So much of it is about just getting through to the other side.

The thing that I also find helpful when under stress is being able to talk to someone else about it - to vent and unload and find someone who will listen. That helps, too.