Summer Time Stress: How I’m Handling New Project Madness

I was chosen to work on the development team for a new product at work.

In February the company I work for decided to launch a new product, and I was chosen to be part of the team to go beta test it. By April, my department head and the head of product development asked if I would move over to the new position full time. On Wednesday, I was asked to be the official team lead over the new team. I am, of course, flattered that my work has been acknowledged, but becoming a manager of a marketing product that’s still in development poses unique challenges. All of this occurring in summer, when I spend 2 days a week at the Farmer’s Market, and 2 days a week producing soaps and bath bombs for my own business, is stressful.

Of course, complaining about this is the epitome of first world problems.

I know how ridiculous it sounds to complain about my career going so well, and that isn’t the problem. The problem is trying to shove so much work into a single week. Even when I enjoy the work I’m doing, as a human, I don’t have boundless energy. And as for the stress? Finding myself going from a small, and mostly ignored team at the company to leading a developing product is not something I expected to happen to me in 2021. The pressure to succeed at both my job and my business, which is not helping my anxiety at all. So, how can I avoid buckling under pressure, overworking myself, or sabotaging myself?

Honestly, I’m not sure.

In the past, when I was a student going to University full time and working full time, I would just work until I crashed. I admit, it wasn’t the most mature way to handle pressure. It’s been two years since I graduated from UVU, and I hope in that time I’ve finally learned better than to run myself ragged. But, have I actually learned better coping mechanisms? Again, only time will tell.

What am I doing different this time around?

Firstly, I’m trying to keep work at work. Though I work from home now, I am trying to keep work confined to business hours. I admit that I am not particularly good that this, as I am obsessive by nature. I find myself thinking about work too much, and talking (often ranting) about it to friends more than I should. Because I am aware of this bad habit of mine, I am making it my goal to slowly condense my “work talk” over the next few weeks, until I can break the habit entirely.

What am I doing in my off-time to unwind.

Obviously, keeping work at work doesn’t do much to help me relax in my off time. There are still several hours at the end of the day that can be filled with obsessive thoughts and ruminations. Mindlessly watching television didn’t occupy my thoughts enough prevent my mind from wandering, and my old standby of writing took too much energy. So, how do I fill my time with that perfect balance between mindless and mind boggling activities?

Well, I tried picking up a new hobby, but the time and energy required to learn a fun, new skill was too draining on top the stress I already have. So, instead I tried picking up an older hobby: painting. I’ve never been a very good artist, but that doesn’t matter when the goal is relaxation. I’ve been filling my apartment with paint, brushes, and canvases. I’ve been stacking paintings, hanging them up, and giving them away. I’ve painted over a dozen so far, and I have no intention of stopping.

Obviously, I can’t paint all the time, so I’m picking up some other old habits. I’ve been taking daily walks for years now, but it has been a while since I just enjoyed being outside for the pleasure of it. When you’re life revolves around work and school- you forget to enjoy the things you did as a child. The things you loved to do before you had tight schedules, responsibilities, and back pain. For me, it was just sitting on my front porch and watching birds, butterflies, and sunsets while reading a book.

I am not naive enough to thing that any of this enough to prevent burnout. Nor am I crazy enough to believe that keeping up with this sort of work schedule for a prolonged period of time is sustainable. I am planning to take take a mini-trip in a few weeks to take my mind off the madness, and also plan to take a longer trip after the farmer’s market is over for the season.

I’m not willing to give up on my career or my business yet. I will try this system for a few months and see how long I can manage. But, if I start to feel myself getting overwhelmed, I will pull back. As much as I need my job to pay my bills, and as much as I enjoy my business, neither is worth my sanity. I hope you find ways to balance work and relaxation in your life as well.

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