Worth repeating: Working during times of stress

6 February 2020

I wrote this post 5.5 years ago when I was dealing with some health challenges for family members. It came to mind recently, because my oldest brother has taken ill and has been hospitalized in southeastern Washington state for the past three weeks. I was trying to maintain my work schedule in St. Louis while checking in on him but decided about two weeks into his illness that I needed to travel to Washington to be there for him and be his advocate. In rereading the post, I felt like it had a great message. Scott is recovering from his bouts with severe pneumonia and I know I’ll keep these strategies in mind as I go back home to St. Louis and try to support him from afar.

Working during times of stress

Since my schedule lightened up a couple of years ago, I’ve lived with relatively little stress. I work hard, which is occasionally stressful, but it’s good stress, since I love my clients and my work. Everything else has been on a pretty even keel. I know that I’m very fortunate.

But this month I’m facing some pretty serious health concerns for loved ones. And this morning my beloved standard poodle, Kirby, woke up not feeling well. We have a vet appointment this afternoon. (That’s him in the photo, on our friend’s porch.)

The worry is driving me to distraction. I know I can’t spend my time worrying because (a) it does no good and (b) I have stuff that needs to get done.

So I got to thinking about what I can do for myself to help me be productive, rather than just miserable, during these times of stress. Here’s what I came up with—maybe it will help you when you’re feeling stressed.

  • Stick with my habits and make sure the basics get done. Luckily, my habits are pretty ingrained, so they’re getting done. Ignoring the laundry will get me nowhere, so there are clothes in the wash as I type. Letting my blog go unwritten is also not helpful, so here I am blogging.
  • Have a good task list. A solid, realistic daily task list gives structure to my day and helps me know what to do next. (These days, I’m using TeuxDeux to keep track of tasks.)
  • Know what’s important. I’m focusing on putting items on my task list that are both urgent and important. Now is probably not the time for me to launch new initiatives.
  • Write everything down. My memory isn’t great anyway, but when I’m stressed out it’s really bad. I don’t want to worry about forgetting something, so I’m writing things down, primarily in Evernote (except tasks, which are going in TeuxDeux).
  • Distract myself with some fun stuff. I’m trying to keep my daily task list short, leaving me some time to immerse myself in enjoyable, productive endeavors, like knitting, reading or genealogy research.
  • Avoid mindless internet or channel surfing. It’s so easy to get on Facebook and lose a half hour (or more) watching dumb videos. That can be mercifully mind-numbing, but also completely unproductive. I’m trying to avoid that by consulting my task list and staying away from Facebook. But I do allow myself the occasional Facebook break—which I keep in check with the help of a timer.
  • Practice self care. I’m always urging my clients to take care of themselves and not put everyone else’s needs before their own. That’s something that’s important for me to remember right now.

If all goes well, the majority of the health concerns should be over in about six weeks (shorter for Kirby, I hope!), so this is short term. I can’t put my life and work on hold for six weeks but I can practice the above coping mechanisms.

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I needed this this morning.. also facing potentially horrific family diagnosis.. so will grab your ideas

Lindy 02/06/2020 06:58 AM

Lindy, I’m so sorry you’re going through something dire and I’m very glad you found this post helpful. Wishing you and your family the best possible outcome. Thanks for commenting.

Janine Adams 02/06/2020 07:55 AM

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About Janine

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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