📚Noisy Deadlines

anxiety

Tomorrow I’ll be back to working at the office full time. I’ve been working from home since April 5th, 2021 now. And before that, it was 30 days at home in January/February. So it was a total of 86 days working from home in 2021 or almost 60% of the total days.

I don’t hate working from home, on the contrary, I think it’s refreshing. Maybe if I lived someplace bigger with a dedicated office to work on, I would say I could never go back to a corporate office environment again. But the industry I work in doesn’t really appreciate remote work. On the contrary, my company believes that remote work can’t and will never build “the corporate culture”. They’ve given the employees the means to work from home during the worst of the pandemic when we were in lockdown. But deep down, most managers deeply hated it.

After the first lockdown period, where everybody was working from home, the senior managers of my company decided that they can’t do it, so they came back to the office. So for a long time they were the “skeleton crew” at the office while the rest of the team was at home, trying to deal with all the challenges that this new arrangement brought. I mention this because, for some period of time when schools and daycares were closed, it was painful to watch my co-workers trying to be in a meeting with their kids wanting their attention. Everybody was stressed, nobody could keep the same productivity levels, and still, the senior managers were demanding the same level of compromise. For them, the world was normal. They were quietly working in their individual offices, not having to face the working-from-home challenge.

And now I’m getting back to the office. I got the first dose of the COVID vaccine already, and the company is keeping all the restrictions to avoid the spread of the virus (rapid testing 3x/week, mandatory use of masks, virtual meetings). That’s not the issue. I just wasn’t expecting it to happen tomorrow, and I felt extremely anxious about it. It’s like I’m being forced out of my cocoon. Maybe I thought this process would be more gradual, like working a few days at home then a few days at the office, until all came back to “normal”.

There is something about this situation that bothers me: the fact that there will be no openness to “occasional” remote work after we get back to working “normally” at the office. I think in some industries there have been discussions over having flexible working arrangements from now on. And I think that is a cool option to have. I don’t think that is going to happen within my company.

I’ve developed some habits that help me cope with stress, like meditating early in the afternoon or whenever I feel something triggered me, taking 15 minutes breaks to read a book, or just stopping and breathing some fresh air on my balcony.

I’m wondering how am I going to keep these habits at the office. It seems harder over there. Meditating? Pfff… I’ll probably have to use the lady’s room. We’ll see!

#noisymusings #work #anxiety


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

And then anxiety… physical manifestations include light dizziness, butterflies in my belly, light-headed, sweating and even light nausea.

I started this CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and every week I find out more about my thoughts. I never judge or analyze my thoughts. I like talking with myself. So I never realized some of those talks were feeding my anxiety. I just thought I was super organized and liked to have my life under control. And I do. My partner sometimes calls me a “control freak”, in a good way. I’m the organizer and planner of the house. But something happened this past year (maybe it starts with PAN…) that destabilized my planning tendencies.

I’m feeling constantly overwhelmed these days. Especially at work. I can’t close my email tab for fear of missing out on important information and task requests from my manager. I feel like I have to be online and available all the time. If my manager calls me on my mobile and I don’t answer in 3 rings, I think he thinks I’m slacking off at home. I've been having thoughts and thoughts, ruminating on my last phone call conversation, and worrying about all the tasks I still have to finish. I fear my to-do list. It’s scary. I’m having trouble taking notes and deciding what to do next. It seems my work responsibilities are screaming at me all the time and it’s “go, go, go!”.

But I don’t want to go. I want to reflect. I want to breathe…. and then a deadline is coming in 24 hours so I fear it, I don’t stop to take a breath… and boom… anxiety.

On my CBT session today I was doing that exercise about Core Beliefs. The one you try to identify a core belief by completing the phrases: “I am…”, “Others are…”, “The world is…”, “The future is…”. When I got to think about what the world is, my answer was: “The world is cruel and merciless”. My feeling is that the world keeps throwing tasks at me without caring if I can handle them. The world doesn’t care about my feelings. Does it? Anyhow, the point I want to make is that this thought “the world is cruel” seemed so extreme! I was surprised by it. And the consequence is “The future is exhausting”. At least inside my head. What an anxiety-inducing place to be! 😶

So, I will be challenging these beliefs. And I will write about it. I am convinced my thoughts are helping with the overwhelmedness (is that a word?). I’ve never done any type of therapy before and I’m learning a lot.

Less overwhelmed days are coming…

#journal #noisymusings #anxiety


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

For the past month, I've been having overloaded days at work. It has disrupted my routine, my downtime and my sleep. Handling many projects at a time with deadlines within a couple of weeks is not easy! And although I have a productivity system in place, I organize my day, I have routines and I take notes... things started to fall through the cracks. And I caught myself having to work after-hours to finish things. And sometimes I do work a little bit more, let's say once a month before an important deadline. But what happened last week was insane. I was working extra 4-5 hours for 3 days in a row! And that took a toll on my health. By Friday I was lightheaded, sleepy, anxious, brain fogged, exhausted and with a headache... My right shoulder started hurting again (it usually happens if I spend too much time doing intensive mouse work on the computer). I thought I got rid of this pain... but it's back.

I couldn't prioritize anything, I couldn't organize my notes, I couldn't even take a break. Whenever I stopped to try and breathe I started worrying about the things I was not doing. That's anxiety, right?

Anyway, I've been focusing on some habits to get back on track. It takes time, I can't recover in a couple of days. It takes time for me to get back to my baseline. My self-care focus is:

  1. Sleep. Get as much sleep as possible. But still keeping the same wake-up time. I noticed that when I sleep in I wake up feeling like crap and then all my morning routine is easily put aside.
  2. Meditation. 10 minutes in the morning doesn't look like much but it makes a difference. I feel better when I meditate for 15 or 20 minutes. On the days I worked too much, meditating before bed for 10 minutes helped me have a better sleep.
  3. Stretching/Yoga/Moving. I need to move in the morning. It doesn't have to be anything intense, but I need something. I got into a trap: I woke up tired, I barely stretched in the morning, and that made me feel worse throughout the day, and then I didn't sleep well and the whole cycle repeated itself. So, I NEED at least 20 minutes of exercise in the morning. It's vital to manage my chronic pain.
  4. Waking up early even on weekends. This one I've been neglecting for a while. But every time I sleep in, I regret it. Especially when I skip my meditation/exercise routine first thing in the morning.
  5. Journaling/Writing things down. I've been feeling too tired to write at all. I want to get back to writing for longer periods of time. To reflect, focus on feelings, scrutinize thoughts, let them go and wander.
  6. Reading. I've been too foggy-minded and tired to get any amount of quality reading done. This weekend I finally could get back to my normal reading habit.

For my work routines, I will focus on the following:

  1. Check e-mail less frequently I check email too often. In fact, I leave the email tab open at ALL TIMES! I recognized that it is extremely anxiety-inducing. It's one of those old habits that are hard to get rid of. So, this will be a mini-goal for next week: Check e-mail in the morning, at noon and by 3 pm.
  2. Protect my time. I want to be less reactive to other people's demands. I believe avoiding checking my Inbox might help with this. Unless it's something high priority my manager is asking, I'll take my time to get back to people.
  3. Time block my Calendar. I'll plan my day in the morning, blocking off deep work sessions to focus. No cheking email, social media, news, messages, whatever during deep work.
  4. Stop working at 5 pm. As recommended by Cal Newport, I will start a shutdown routine at 4:45 pm so that I'm off at 5 pm. It might help to do a brain dump session at the end of the day to externalize all my worries and transition to my evening rest.

Phew, I feel better writing this down.

#journal #noisymusings #work #anxiety


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.