Wednesday, 16 May 2012

It's only stressful if you can't do anything about it

I had several sleepless nights last week.  Proper sleepless nights, where worry takes over your mind; every time you close your eyes the same scenarios play out in your head and you get up and do something else because it’s too painful not to.  Then you eventually fall asleep for a couple of hours only to dream the same scenarios until the boy comes in for an early morning cuddle and you don't know whether to be relieved that the night's over or miserable because you feel so tired.

It was work stress.  I’d taken on too much and a deadline was looming.  It was an externally imposed one with no room for negotiation.  But I’m used to deadlines.  I work with them all the time.  They focus the mind.  (And unlike Terry Pratchett, I’m not used to the sound they make as the go whooshing past.  I meet deadlines.  Always.)

The problem was that I couldn’t actually do the work yet as I was waiting for information and input from others.  All I could do was think about it, wonder if I could have organised the whole thing better, wonder if I’d bitten off more than I could chew, worry that I was giving a bad impression…   

When the day came that I could actually start the work, I snapped out of it.  I worked hard, I put in extra hours, I was busier than ever - but the stress went away.  I knew I could do it; I wasn't stuck helplessly unable to do anything.  I wonder if this is the same for everyone.  I am a do-er, and when I say I'll do something I know I will finish it.  Doing is much more comforting than thinking about doing, or worrying about not doing.

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