How's Your Stress? No, Really.
I'm a huge advocate of always doing a little bit more. There's 168 hours in a week, and you only sleep for 50 of them and work for 40. What do you do with the other 78?
But there's a balancing act at play here. You can always do a little bit more, but at some point you have to ask yourself: Is it worth it?
You have to take care of yourself. If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be worth anything to your work or to anyone!
It's crucial to pay attention to this, because it so often sneaks up on us. We're so accustomed to living in constant stress that we don't recognize when we cross the threshold into lower productivity, or an anxious fit, or even self-harm.
Stress is often a very gradual slope, and we don't realize we need to take a step back until the room is spinning and we're gasping for air. That's not a metaphor! If you've ever gone through an anxiety attack, you know how important it is to keep yourself in check.
Stress is a very subtle controller. It starts with just this one nagging idea. Then it builds into late nights and early mornings. Then it climaxes in us having to call in sick so we can physically and mentally recoup.
Why would we ever place ourselves in those situations? How much better could each of us be if we took things a little easier? Still work hard, still put in the extra. But pay attention to our bodies and minds when they're trying to get our attention.
There are always signs. Your sleep isn't as restful. You can't think straight. You're so tired it feels like you're fighting a virus.
It takes you longer to do your work. You can't stop thinking about work. All of it continues to build until we remove the stressors or crack!
Take an afternoon off. Sleep in on the weekends. Go out for a drink at a scenic restaurant. Go for a long run. Read that book you've been wanting to read, purely for pleasure.
It's outrageously easy for any of us to get so caught up and stressed out that we do damage to ourselves. And it's such a subtle process! Don't let that happen to you. Take time to relax, to unwind, to treat yourself.
Take time to keep your sanity. If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be good to anyone.