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2002 Jul 25 16:10

The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox] Slashdot lay-offs
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Re: [vox] Slashdot lay-offs



Doug Huckaba writes:
 > IMHO the level of stress is only determined by how you react to it. For a
 > period of time I worked in a very high stress environment, that is untill
 > I had worked in it for a while, then it became "normal". I learned how to
 > deal with the stress and found a sort of zen like state in the middle of
 > the maddness. I would run around like a chicken with it's head cut off,
 > just a giant ball of stress. Then I started looking around at others and
 > could see that for some it just didn't effect them. I learned how to deal
 > with it like they did and soon I was watching others running around like I
 > used to, and I'd stop them and say "relax, it's just work, it'll get
 > done". They just looked at me like I used to look at others.

In some situations it is possible to do this - I consider myself to
have a very high stress threshold (not the threshold at which the
level of stress causes a nervous breakdown; but the threshold at which
a situation becomes stressful enough for me to feel it), so I can
relate.

But there are other kinds of stress besides work.

 > 
 > After I left that job, I went to a very low stress job, and my work 
 > suffered. like you say, no motivation. Now on that same job after 2 years 
 > the stress is picking back up and I find myself in the same position I was 
 > in previously. I had forgotten how to deal with the stress. Time to lean 
 > all over again. The job is the job. Work comes in, every thing is top 
 > priority for whoever is asking for it. That is a constant. They will 
 > pressure you, that it a given. How you react to it is up to you, that is a 
 > choice.

Well said. However, it is not always necessarily a choice: there are
some situations which will cause stress to anyone but an idiot.

As an extreme, and completely contrived example, consider a scenario
where you are behind a week and a half on a job which must be
completed in a day and a half - you know for certain that you will be
eliminated (without severance) if it is not completed right on
time. You have no money in savings. You were recently given 30 days
notice to move out of your rented home, 28 days ago. Your wife has
severe PMS... etc....

These are the sorts of situations that lead to people killing
themselves. Of course, those are the people who haven't learned to
deal with stress like you and I, but...

One doesn't really need such extreme examples, either - work can be
stressful without combining it with outside influences. I believe that
in your examples, the stress was largely illusory: everything is "top
priority", but there are no real consequences if it's not done
immediately (i.e., if it is given lower priority than some other "top
priority" job). Some jobs have real consequences, though they are
fairly rare - especially in our profession. Such consequences might
mean that you are forced to make up lost work the next day by working
16 hours, etc. Falling behind in such a job isn't an option.

 > of course YMMV... 
 > 
 > I'm sure there are those of you out there saying "But my situation is 
 > differant". To that I challenge you to try just for once, when you're 
 > blood pressure rises, and get all tense, feeling "it" comming on, take a 
 > minute and just look at it objectivly you'll see what I'm talking about. 
 > It can't really be explained (tho I continue to try), it must be 
 > experienced to be understood. 

OTOH, sometimes stress is entirely emotional, and not really related
to the job at all; that can be difficult to control. Too much caffeine
can easily induce that situation. Of course, real or artificial stress
can also be reduced or eliminated chemically as well - alcohol or
chamomile are good for that. Stress is inherently psychological, so
intangibles such as the level of lighting, how clean/distracting an
environment you work in, or a warm mug of Earl Gray can significantly
affect the stress you feel.

Or, if you give any credit to the Bible:

  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
  petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of god, which
  transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds
  in Christ Jesus.

Which is one I apply frequently.

(Disclaimer: Please don't let this become a religious thread for that
one quote. If anyone wants to discuss this last part in a way
inappropriate to the group, and inapplicable to the current
discussion, please take it off-list. No wishes to start a religious
flame-war).

-Micah
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