Monday, May 28, 2012

Four Tested ways to Deal with Stress

My dearest readers,
As you probably noticed I haven't been posting as much as I usually do for the last month. The reason is because I've been under the most stress I've ever been under in my entire life. I organized, planned, and ran a three day symposium on cloud architecture. Besides just organizing and planning, I had to get sponsors, speakers, and attendees. I started planning the event in July, but by February, I was spending more and more time focused on the event. In the beginning of April, I took the GRE so that I can get into Grad school in the fall. Studying for the GRE was extremely stressful, and I had to balance that out with promoting the cloud event. At the same time I was the division governor for Toastmasters. Work was also taking a lot of time as my project went through some replanning. I also spoke at the SATURN 2012 conference on Architect as Leader, you can read my speech.

The stress caused many physical problems for me. One was sleep disruption. The stress would get so bad sometimes I'd have a night of tossing and turning grinding through my mouth guard. Another caused my mind would get into an infinite loop of negativity and circle.  My poor husband and sister also felt the pain because I would get very short with them when I was working.

I'll share some ways to deal with the extreme stress:
1. Praying. I found that praying and turning over each of the huge responsibilities in my life over to God was a huge physical relief. My husband and I prayed every night and sometimes that was the only way I could fall asleep. The more I prayed the more relaxed I became. If I skipped for a few days, I would go into infinite loop mode. One night I was totally freaking out because one of my speakers bailed on me. My husband and I prayed and I suddenly got an idea of turning the hour into a workshop. That worked perfectly! Praying really really does work!
2. Eating Right. I found that I had to completely avoid caffeine and sugar. I was already shredding my nerves, adding any caffeine caused my heart to race and my mind to spin. Sugar would lift me for a little and then make me crash. I'd have to work late into the night and a sugar crash could cause huge failures. Instead I focused on eating lots and lots of protein and veggies to keeping my energy up. I drank many protein smoothies, chicken stir frys. Also drinking plenty of water keeps your body running smoothly.
3. Exercising. I hit the gym more in the past 5 months than in a long time. In 2011, I went to the gym three times a week consistently. This year I've been going 4 or 5 times. I also have worked yoga into my schedule more than I event expected. My new years resolution was to do yoga once a month, but I've managed to do it two or more times a month.Weights and stairs are my main workouts. Also on the days when I worked in a walk in the morning I was much clearer and focused all day.
4. Breathing. This sounds so obvious, but I'd would hold my breath when working very hard. I had to focus on breathing. I also learned some really great breathing exercises for speakers from Olivia Schofield. They helped me so much. If you do any public speaking, her CD is worth every penny.  I used it to prepare for my speech at the SATURN 2012 conference.

I've never been under so much stress as the past five months, and using those techniques helped me every step of the way. The symposium on Cloud Architecture was a huge hit! The speech at SATURN 2012 got so many votes for best speaker that IEEE asked me to submit an article! I got a pretty good score on the GRE. My project at work is going pretty well. All in all I survived successfully. I hope you can use these tips in your own stressful life.

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