Anyone who has worked in the Information Technology field for a few years has experienced stress at some point. I think this is just an unavoidable fact of life for the IT professional. Depending on the size of your company you could be unofficially on call 24/7. If a server goes down at 2 am someone is going to have to fix it. I know a guy who went years without having a real vacation because he had to keep systems running. Sure he may have gone out of town but he was chained to his laptop the whole time in case something went wrong.
You also have the fact that most of the time people only talk to you when they have a problem. They could already be stressed out because of that problem and many times they will take that out on you. Most people do not even realize the responsibility we carry. A simple 2-second mistake could bring down a system or delete data. Then in return, this could cost the company thousands if not millions of dollars. Especially if there is no backups or disaster recovery plan. Companies have gone out of business because of these kinds of mistakes.
So why do we do it? I guess for most of us technology is a passion and we enjoy the challenge. But even the most seasoned IT professional may feel overwhelmed at times.
8 tips for stress management
These tips should be helpful for dealing with stress at work and in all areas of life. But for this post I am focusing on the IT professional.
Shrug it off
The fact of life is that some people are jerks and bad things happen that you have no control over. Do not let things you cannot control get to you or you will be miserable. Some people may just be having a bad day. I have had to deal with some nasty people only later to find out they have a family member in the hospital. It is not an excuse for them to treat you bad but just remember you do not always know what is going on in their life. Hurting people hurt others.
One thing I can 100% guarantee you is that not everyone is going to like you. It is just an unfortunate fact of life. If people found a reason to hate Jesus, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama then what hope do we have?
Just do not let these kinds of people live rent free inside your head and do not worry about things you can’t control. If you can manage just this, then you will have a lot more peace in your life.
Stay in your comfort zone
This does not mean you don’t do anything hard. It means you recognize your limits and respect them. Stop trying to do stuff your lousy at only to be miserable and stressed out about it.
Eliminate extra things from your schedule
I dropped out of a committee I enjoyed being in because my real job’s workload was getting too high. Spending an hour in a committee meeting during work hours while work was piling up was stressing me out so I dropped it. This could also apply to commitments to friends and family. Do not be afraid to tell people no when they ask for some of your time.
Multitasking is bad
I bet a lot of IT professionals will disagree with me here but lots of research backs me up. The more you do at the same time the lower the quality of all the work. Unfortunately, I am not sure you can be in an IT department without some multitasking. Don’t tell anyone in an interview you don’t like to multitask or you may never get hired. But I do feel like multitasking should be limited as much as possible. I know for me if I am working on 3 or 4 work orders at the same time I can start to feel the stress build up.
I have heard this before but I never knew how well it worked until I was having a very bad couple of months at a job. Then for some reason, I decided to start going to a Kung Fu class after work. A few days later it hit me how much better I felt at work and even better after class.
We have things called endorphins in our body. They are the feel-good hormones and they increase when we exercise. Exercise also helps you sleep which I will talk about later in this list.
Take time to relax and do things you enjoy. (Even if it is only for 10 minutes.)
When I feel myself get on edge I like to take a walk around the building. I also try to make a point to schedule something fun. For example, I schedule a time to relax and do some PC gaming on the weekend. It may sound silly but if I do not make a point to plan it I am not sure if it would happen.
You could also try some stress relieving jokes!
Get some Sleep
It is also a proven fact that a lack of sleep leads to increased stress. I know it may be hard for us tech people to go to bed sometimes when we are playing on the computer. But maybe if you know it is going to be a rough day at work tomorrow then make a point to get to bed early the night before. I also find that I get sick easier if I don’t sleep much and I recover faster from being sick if I get lots of sleep.
I have been reading a fascinating book called Why We Sleep and I am learning all kinds of cool things about sleep that I never knew. Including health problems that come from a lack of sleep. If you want to learn more about sleep I would highly recommend it.
Having a bad diet will lead to unneeded stress or reduce your ability to deal with stress. Try cutting back on junk food and adding some good foods to your diet.