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MANAGE STRESS
(before it kills you)

I originally wrote an article for Simple Talk magazine with this title. Four years or...
STRESS IS CAUSED BY

Evolutionary: Chased by a lion

Humans were meant for
short bursts of stress,
evolutionarily-speaking...
SHORT-TERM
STRESS RESPONSE
“Alarm Phase”
“Fight or Flight”
Adrenaline Released
Muscles Tense

These last t wo chemicals ar...
LONG TERM STRESS
Inter-arterial scars create places for LDL cholesterol to cling
to, which is the beginning of a plaque bu...
FINAL STRESS PHASE
Interesting Fact: Stress is vital, and we can’t exist
without it.

Body gives up
Completely burned out
...
COPING WITH STRESS

Burnout == No Coping Methods Left
Remedies:
No interesting facts, just the observation
that I’ve been ...
COPING METHOD #1
ACTION ORIENTED
Confront the stressor head-on

For some reason, this is
my go-to method, but
maybe I’m ju...
COPING METHOD #2
EMOTION ORIENTED
People assure me that
this works, but I think
I’m just too stubborn to
make it happen.
P...
COPING METHOD #3

ACCEPTANCE ORIENTED
When you can’t change the stress (even temporarily), accept
the source of the longte...
THE STRESS DIARY
A spreadsheet with the following columns:
Name of stressor

The advice books all say “get a journal and
w...
THE STRESS DIARY

Sort your stressors by severity

This is one of those
annoying “this stuff
should have been on
the last ...
COPING METHODS
I workout, paint, take pictures, walk through parks.

What do you do?
As I said in the presentation, I also...
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Coping With Stress

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This is from a lightning talk I gave at a PICC / LOPSA-East conference, either 2010 or 2011.

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Transcript of "Coping With Stress"

  1. 1. MANAGE STRESS (before it kills you) I originally wrote an article for Simple Talk magazine with this title. Four years or so ago, I went to the hospital because of what I thought was a heart attack, but it ended up being caused by stress. I learned some ways to cope with it, and wrote the article to help others. This slideshow was originally presented at the PICC’11 conference. Enjoy! --Matt Simmons (standalone.sysadmin@gmail.com) Sunday, May 1, 2011
  2. 2. STRESS IS CAUSED BY Evolutionary: Chased by a lion Humans were meant for short bursts of stress, evolutionarily-speaking. There were no 3-month project deadlines in the savannas and trees where we evolved to our current form. Historically: warfare, famine, pestilence, other plagues Modern Day: traffic, bosses, relationships, Nagios Sunday, May 1, 2011
  3. 3. SHORT-TERM STRESS RESPONSE “Alarm Phase” “Fight or Flight” Adrenaline Released Muscles Tense These last t wo chemicals are maybe the most insidious parts of the stress response. Serotonin and dopamine both activate the pleasure sensors of the brain. Evolutionarily, they exist because stressful situations cause pain, and the release of the chemicals counteracts that, which allows us to escape the threatening environment. The body and brain don’t distinguish bet ween a present danger and psychological stress inflicted by long-term situations (like work). Because the stress response is the same, we get a chemical “hit” of pleasure when we come under stress (even if we don’t feel it). Elevated blood pressure & heart rate Serotonin & Dopamine Released Sunday, May 1, 2011
  4. 4. LONG TERM STRESS Inter-arterial scars create places for LDL cholesterol to cling to, which is the beginning of a plaque buildup. Over time, these create dams, which block the blood-flow. Those coronary by-passes that are all the rage? It’s to deal with narrowing of the arteries caused by the plaque build-up. Body’s coping mechanisms start to break down Mental and physical abilities break down Inter-arterial scarring from constant high blood pressure Psychological dependence Interesting fact: Dopamine is the exact same chemical released by the brain when you gamble. Sunday, May 1, 2011
  5. 5. FINAL STRESS PHASE Interesting Fact: Stress is vital, and we can’t exist without it. Body gives up Completely burned out Elevated stress levels for short periods of time actually decreases our body’s response time, increases our mental acuity, and the addition of adrenaline actually makes us stronger. Unfortunately for us, those are only temporary gains, and there is a refractory time needed to recover. When we don’t get that recovery time, the good things still go away, but we have fewer mental reserves to deal with the next round of stress. Repeat ad mortuus. Far, far past peak performance This happens when we’re out of coping mechanisms Sunday, May 1, 2011
  6. 6. COPING WITH STRESS Burnout == No Coping Methods Left Remedies: No interesting facts, just the observation that I’ve been here, and it sucks. More coping methods Removing stressors Sunday, May 1, 2011 If you’re here, you’re not alone.
  7. 7. COPING METHOD #1 ACTION ORIENTED Confront the stressor head-on For some reason, this is my go-to method, but maybe I’m just direct like that. Plus I tend to be grumpy when I’m stressed. Work / Tech related? Discuss options with manager, escalate if necessary. If they’re unwilling to fix the problem? Leave. It isn’t worth your life, and you probably didn’t like it anyway. Sunday, May 1, 2011
  8. 8. COPING METHOD #2 EMOTION ORIENTED People assure me that this works, but I think I’m just too stubborn to make it happen. Please try it though, because if it works for you, then that’s what counts. Attempt to change how you feel about the problem Difficult to do, worth it if it works Examine different perspectives, try other ideas. Sunday, May 1, 2011
  9. 9. COPING METHOD #3 ACCEPTANCE ORIENTED When you can’t change the stress (even temporarily), accept the source of the longterm stress: Accept that you are stressed Build buffers between you and the source Find other outlets for your stress We’ve all been here. If you don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, talk to someone who will help you. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, then please call the crisis inter vention hotline at (800) 273-8255. Someone will listen. Sunday, May 1, 2011 Even just admitting that you are stressed helps. Accepting that you’re in a stressful situation is good, particularly if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
  10. 10. THE STRESS DIARY A spreadsheet with the following columns: Name of stressor The advice books all say “get a journal and write in it”, but we’re sysadmins, and spreadsheets are a natural fit. This would be a killer mobile phone app, too. Severity of stress How it makes you feel How many times it has occurred Maintain by week Sunday, May 1, 2011
  11. 11. THE STRESS DIARY Sort your stressors by severity This is one of those annoying “this stuff should have been on the last slide, but it would have been way too cluttered” slides. Sort your stressors by frequency Identify these top two stressors first, then re-evaluate Sunday, May 1, 2011
  12. 12. COPING METHODS I workout, paint, take pictures, walk through parks. What do you do? As I said in the presentation, I also find that Death Metal works pretty well. Other great suggestions were yoga, bike riding (fast!), meditation, shooting ranges, golf, batting cages, and pretty much anything else that uses lots of kinetic energy or intense concentration. This makes sense when you consider what the chemical response to stress was intended to do, and how it affects us. Sunday, May 1, 2011
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