I am terrible at taking time off and unwinding. I am so bad that in the minutes of our last VFree meeting there is an item 'reminding all team members that there is such a thing as taking a breather, and that you are not good to anyone if you burn out, and I mean you, Andres'. Russ was chairing the meeting and it was his way of telling me off, as he knows I am a minute nerd. The sad fact is that I am not alone. Actually, if I were a betting man I'd wager you are as bad as I am. If you take a look at NHS Choices it says that people in Britain work on average more than 40 days unpaid overtime per year. This is probably worse in the States. NHS Choices estimates that last year almost half a million people in the UK said they had stress bad enough to make them ill.
Managing stress and balancing home and work life is one the most difficult things we face, but we need to do something about it for our sakes, for our families and for our colleagues. When we get stressed we are more likely to get anxiety and depression. It can get so bad that we end up taking time off work, which doesn't help the company you are so hard trying to go the extra mile for.
We are developing Stress Free to try to help in a small way with this. We try to make it convenient and easy for people to help themselves, but I realise I have to take my own medicine. This project (and Russ's nagging) is making me focus on managing my own stress and not overdo stuff, as I tend to do. I know that, even though I am trying to help everyone by working harder, if I crash I won't be any use to anyone. I am now regularly using relaxation techniques, doing a bit more exercise and making sure I have more time with my family. The NHS has some very good advice on how to unwind. See what bits of it fit with your lifestyle and remember that a small change can make all the difference.