More than a job, less than a life

stressballSilicon Valley offers endless opportunity for bright, motivated people.  Whether it’s building the next best thing from an idea written on a napkin, to landing a dream job at a tech giant, the benefits are incredible. Every day you’re immersed in excitement fueled by caffeine and good old nose-to-the grindstone brainwork. It’s 10 hours a day of nonstop adrenalin. The work is exciting, challenging, and occasionally frustrating.

It also slowly turns you into one angry ball of stress.

All that multitasking, deadline-sweating, and de-prioritization of family and leisure time can take a toll.  In your high-tech world you’re giving your all for the job and giving up a lot in return. You’re trading hard work for your company for hard work on your health and relationships. Welcome to “more than a job, less than a life.”

You can just deal with it, of course, or you can take control of this one part of your life and do something positive to help reduce the stress associated with your work.

Three Steps to the Good News

Tech companies know that the work environments they’re maintaining are high-stress.  They really do care about helping you be successful and helping you manage stress.  They offer opportunities to control diet with health-concious corporate café choices, gyms for exercise and volunteer opportunities in community service to help you get out of your cube.  But lots of employees are so stressed, they forget to seek out these alternatives.  They see themselves as so busy, they don’t see how it’s possible to relax.

Fortunately it can boil down to three simple things you can do to lessen the stress of your high-tech work life.  Three. Really.  Go ahead, try it for a few weeks and you will see a difference.

1. Take 30 minutes every day and disconnect. It’s rare in the Valley to go more than 5 minutes without something on your body beeping, buzzing, or vibrating.  As a high-tech worker, you are relentlessly connected.  Even on vacation, you just can’t let go.  The expectation of instant response is a heavy burden, heavier than you realize.  Part of your personal quest for stress-reduction is to remove those distractions, just for a few minutes. There’s a growing body of research that shows that “mindfulness” or meditation has significant impact on your mood, your attitude, and your physical health.

Set aside thirty minutes of your time every day (sleep time doesn’t count!) and turn off all the tech.  ALL of it.  NO smartphones, headphones, Google Glass, TiVo or XBOX.  Yeah, no music. No people either. Drive time doesn’t count either. No books. No tasks. Just you, standing, sitting or walking or running and listening to your own thoughts. It might be hard at first, but it works.  Breathe. Your mind will likely wander.  Let it.

2. Pay attention to what you eat and how much you sleep.  Duh.  You know this one, but you probably don’t do it.  If you aren’t clocking at least 7 hours of sleep a night, you are not sleeping enough. Period.  There is no such thing as “catching up on sleep”.  You either do it or you don’t. If you’re not monitoring what you eat (or drink) – at least trying to get in the healthy bits like fruits and veggies – you are doing your body a disservice.  Some of us pay more attention to keeping our software up to date than we do keeping our bodies healthy.  That’s just silly.  You don’t have to keep a log or buy another piece of electronics to monitor your diet.  Just be vigilant. Control your portions and think before you eat something not-so-healthy. You really do know how to fix this piece of the puzzle–just sleep more and eat better.

3. Get a therapeutic massage once a week, or once every other week. Of the hundred or so clients we see in a month, about 75% of them work in high-tech.  We are, after all, in the epicenter of Silicon Valley (hence our name: Silicon Valley Massage Therapy Group).  Without exception, each client reports that they are better able to focus, that they feel better, that they are less stressed, and that people in their family (even their puppies) notice they are less tense and easier to be around.

Therapeutic massage is DIFFERENT than what you might think of as a standard relaxation or Swedish massage session.  It’s not a spa massage. It’s personalized. It’s focused. It involves some targeted and frank conversation with your massage therapist. It uses all the tools at the therapist’s disposal, including different modalities (Swedish, deep tissue, Shiatsu, Trigger Point Therapy and more). The goal is real and positive change in your body– and with those changes, quieting the mind and gaining relaxation.

At SVMTG, our skilled and licensed therapists focus on areas of tension, pain or discomfort and work the muscles, tendons, and ligaments with purposeful skill. The work that we do is very individualized, since everyone is different.  Working out kinks and tightness in the body reduces the physical stress in your body, which in turn, reduces the emotional and mental stress.  The time on the table also adds to your “disconnect time”, providing a precious few moments when your manager can’t remind your of your deadline or your significant other poke you about remembering to buy milk at the grocery store before you come home.

So there they are.  Three things you can do NOW to decrease your overall stress so you can enjoy the wonderful rewards of living and working in Silicon Valley.  Try them.  ALL of them.  You, your family, you co-workers and your pets will all thank us later.