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Is it weird to say the word 'good' and 'stress' in the same sentence? According to The American Institute of Stress (AIS), yeah that's real, 46% of work-stress is caused by your workload. I'm actually curious to know from that study; how many people truly had too much on their plate and how many people were just like me, adding unnecessary pressure on themselves which gives the illusion of a heavy workload. I'm going to lead you all into a spiral I call my life, as I'm starting a new project.

When I'm ready to start a new project, I have all these ideas, and they just come out rapid fire when I'm in the planning phase.

Once I have all these ideas, I start seeing the bigger vision in my head so all these ideas are just scattered in my OneNote in random places. When someone mentions something else and it triggers another thought, I write down half a sentence with a mental note ~ I'll organize this all later, and move to the appropriate tab in my OneNote. It's cool it's fresh on my mind so I'll remember ;). #yeahright

I'm now so invested in this project, I have my ideas, my vision and ready to put it together to start a project plan. Oh wait, someone just emailed me about my other project I'm working on. It's super quick, I'll respond and get back to my new project.

I just spent the rest of the day on something else and not my new project. That's okay, we have tomorrow. I'm going to find space on my calendar for tomorrow and block out time to:

  1. Arrange my brainstorming notes

  2. Create project plan

Tomorrow: I'm starting off strong, I open my email just to make sure there are no emergencies and I see my first call of the day starts in thirty minutes. I better make sure I have what I need for that call. I'll just review the invite and remind myself what it's about. Let me focus only on this right now, I want to be really prepared and be able to ask questions I may have later. {Call ends}

I now have a new fresh of notes from this call that are all over the place in my OneNote and I have a couple random thoughts on sticky pads. Let me take just the next thirty minutes organizing this.

{falls in to a rabbit hole going through information from last call - misses dedicated time for new project}

Next Day: I missed my dedicated time but that's okay I'll find time tomorrow or sometime this week. Now all I have to do is

  1. Arrange my brainstorming notes

  2. Create project plan

  3. Schedule planning calls with key partners

I got this!!!! {10 more calls , 40 more quick emails, and 3 missed dedicated time slots later}

I have now entered the stress zone. I either have to stay really late or work this weekend, or both. I also have less time to get more things accomplished. What happened??!! Honestly, it's a mix of things: easily distracted, not setting healthy work boundaries, and our favorite time management. All of these things have added to me stressing out over my workload and not to mention this is just one example of a project where I could be working on 15-20 different ones at the same time.

I'm learning to realize that I do exhibit certain behaviors that cause additional stress to myself but at the same time, they work for me. I couldn't even tell you what I would do if I had a lot of time on my hands. Typically, I'm not only more productive, but I do my BEST work under pressure. The catch 20/20: that pressure causes stress. I'm now practicing a healthy balance of stress. Work-stress seems to be inevitable for me based on the way I operate, but what can I do to ensure I don't let it control me or my health? Below are a few things I've been trying and I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Stacy Tips:

1 - Pad the timeline, if I think it will take 1 day to complete, I ask for 2.

2- Quit over-organizing and just start ( I'm ashamed to admit how many tabs my OneNote has)

3- Don't take others stress, I already have enough of my own

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For the last couple of weeks I've found myself crying and spiraling into a frenzy about 'what if.'

  • What if something happens to my black son?

  • What if I get stopped by an officer and the situation goes left, and I don't make it home?

  • Am I doing enough? What can I do to help others that are hurting?

These thoughts and questions keep me up at night. I found myself saying the following to my friends for four days in a row, 'it's not a good day.' I would go on about how I had to cry it out, or just scream it out, about the most recent breaking news tragedy. It's too much!! My logical side recognized that these back-to-back days of random crying was out of character which means, my mental health alarm had been ringing. Many of us ignore our mental health warning alarms. These alarms can differ from person to person. For me, crying is a one of my biggest alarms. I'm not a random crier. Typically when i'm crying, it's usually out of frustration and nothing else.

Why do we ignore our mental health alarm? I think we don't slow down enough to recognize it's going off. I mentioned crying is my biggest alarm but a few other key warnings are:

  • Easily frustrated

  • Sleepless nights

  • Over Eating

  • Lack of eating

  • Lethargy

We only have our one body and it is time to focus on recognizing our mental health alarms. The world around us is crazy, IT WILL ALWAYS BE CRAZY, there is always going to be a new crisis out there, but if we aren't mentally stable to deal with it, we can't physically be there to save it. Our first step is to listen to our bodies. Take notice of behaviors that don't align to your personality.

After you've recognized your mental health alarm is ringing it's time to wake up, no more hitting snooze. If you ignore, or consistently snooze your alarm, it will turn off. We never want to find ourselves in a situation where we are physically present but not mentally, it won't be good for anyone.

Here are ways I take a Mental Health Day, which can vary depending on which alarm is ringing.

  • Mental Break : It' okay to do nothing, and watch other people live for just awhile.

    • Practical Application: I binge a show that isn't a trigger warning, just mindless, typically funny, TV and I do nothing but that. I had to remind myself it is okay to do NOTHING. Usually if I were watching TV, I needed to fold clothes or work on some assignments, whatever task to justify the time. In order to truly disconnect, just allow yourself time to fall into someone else's world.

  • Clean-up : Removing physical clutter in your space, helps to remove clutter from your mind

  • Practical Application : I cleaned out my entire car, I mean deep cleaning not just 'straightened up.' I washed the seats, vacuumed, put Armor All on the dashboard, added some 'smell-good,' it was a new car again. It took me close to three hours. For whatever reason, I felt a release of stress. No, it didn't solve all my problems, but it did help me feel better, which helped me look at my problems differently.

  • Art Project : focus on a project that adds no value to the world, just makes your world a little better

    • Practical Application: I put a desk together. I ordered a desk online and of course when it was delivered it was in a million pieces. The instructions were useless, but if I focused, I could put this together, it wasn't rocket science. This desk wasn't going to be the answer to humanities problems, so I had to look at it that way. It also wasn't going to be the center piece of my home, and define my existence, it was a desk. A small desk at that. So, I took four hours and put my desk together. The reviews said average time was thirty minutes, but I run my life, not reviews, so I allowed myself time to be great. The point is, I didn't allow it to add stress, and during that four hours, I didn't think about anything else BUT THAT DESK. It was a good break from the world.

There are several ways to take a Mental Health Day, I just listed a few above that don't take much, and don't ask anything more from you. You may have read in other articles that hanging with family and friends are another great way to 'take a break.' I do agree, however, when I'm around others I feel the need to be 'ON.' The entire purpose of a Mental Health break is to allow yourself time to be 'OFF.' Remind yourself as often as you need to, it's okay to take a break from the world so you can recharge.

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Updated: May 26, 2020

It’s funny how people use the phrase “office politics,” as an excuse to be rude, disrespectful , or just plain catty. It adds 0 value to your work or your brand as a person. What is the f-ing point {steps off soapbox}, but I digress.

I was asked to run lead on a particular project for one of my extracurricular boards I sit on. The leader asked me personally to take lead, and I have to admit I was flattered. I’m always eager to take on more responsibility and just show my worth within my team. Well, like ‘office politics’ go, the leader reaches out to me ‘off-the-record’ to ask me to take on this additional responsibility- I happily accept. He mentions it’s not public knowledge so hush-hush until I give the okay. I wanted to say, dude we aren’t running some covert mission, but decided to let his ego live another day.

Anyway, me being the fabulous me, I jump to action: gather my team, set-up meetings, set realistic deadlines --all that jazz. I can’t even lie I’m mad excited. I tell my fam, friends, and circle of concern. For dorks like me, this is a big deal.

Now fast-forward 3 days. I get a 911 from another department lead asking me about the project. Me being me, I’m ready to tell him everything and the direction I’m headed but then remembered, oh yeah, hush-hush. I uncharacteristically remain quiet as he spoke, to learn about what he knows, and then act surprised by it all.

But instead, my bubble pops. He proceeds to tell me, HE was asked to lead on the project and wants to know if I’ll support him and how I plan on doing that. What in the entire F*** (re-read that last sentence in all caps with your fist shaking in the air)!!!!!!

I had a Zack Morris time-out moment (google it) as I looked into the camera and decide which option to take.

Option 1: Loose my sh**

Let him know I was told, I would be leading it, and remind that other lead of our hush-hush conversation while copying several higher-ups. And then quit the whole thing.

Option 2: Take the high road

Congratulate this douche, who honestly, probably had nothing to do with it, and support him anyway I can. To ensure no animosity reach out to the first lead and discuss the miscommunication in a productive way.

Option 3: Ride the wave

Continue doing what I was doing before I heard about this opportunity, and lookout for other ones while still excelling in everything I touch.

Each time I try and fight the current I end up worse than before, but when I allow what will happen to just happen, I come out on top.

Option 1 & 2 will inevitably doom me. I’ll be the emotional woman, regardless of the approach. If I address this direct and blunt I’m a b**** ; if I have a clarifying conversation expressing my disappointment in how this was handled, I’m weak and needy. No win!!

I‘m not accepting defeat but instead stepping back and watching the show while simultaneously performing my own magic trick.

Sometimes you have to ride the wave - if they are good without you; let them be good. Keep doing what you doing and doing it well and let them learn from a distance. At least that seems to be my recipe for success, I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of this show.

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