Author Topic: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Dealing with stress  (Read 12388 times)

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OCstagemanager81

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WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Dealing with stress
« on: Mar 03, 2006, 05:27 pm »
I was looking on the site and so far have not found any posts about dealing with stress.  if there is one and I missed it please point it out.

I am in the middle of about a million things.  As a stage manager/student I tend to over commit (but what stage manager doesn't?)  Any way I am the ASM for one show, I am directing & designing lights for another show, and I am the SM for another show.  On top of that I still work another job 40 hours a week.  They are all in rehearsal now and each opens the weekend after the previous one closes.  I am so overwelmed right now because I have so much on my plate.  How do you deal with the stress that builds up over time?  Normally I have a break down about two days before tech starts.  Then I am fine for the run of the show, I just wish there was a better way to deal.  Please let me know what you do.
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 12:08 am by PSMKay »

MatthewShiner

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Step one in dealing with stress
« Reply #1 on: Mar 03, 2006, 05:36 pm »
Um, most stage managers DON'T over commit.  How can I give 100% to the show I am working on if I am over committed.

The best way to deal with stress is to avoid it.

What you described sounds INSANE.  ABSOLUTELY INSANE.

I find that experience is one of the best ways to deal with stress.  Where I use to stress about tech, now I know that I can handle just about anything that may come up in tech, so I don't have to worry.

The things I do to deal with the general stress in my life.

1) I take a block of time that is completely unscheduled for myself on my day off or a night off.

2) I play video games - video games can be some of the best stress relief for stage managers, as well as continue to develop hand and eye co-ordination.  

3) Spoil yourself every once in awhile - a nice lunch, a spa day, a little extra time to sleep in.

4) Drink lots of water, eat right.

5) I try to keep my life very simple.  It's amazing how streamlining your life can allow you to deal with problems easier as they arise.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

ReyYaySM

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Dealing with stress
« Reply #2 on: Mar 03, 2006, 06:11 pm »
I remember that when I was in college, things were a little crazy, but not quite what you're describing.  I think at my worst, I was in rehearsal 40 hours a week, taking 18 hours worth of courses, and President of Alpha Psi Omega.  But I had two amazing assistants working with me on the show and an amazing set of officers who practically ran APO for me while I was in rehearsal for the show and concentrating on my classes.  

Be careful about overextending yourself because not only can it be detrimental to you and your health, but it can be detrimental to the project and everyone else involved.  

That being said, here are some ideas for destressing:

*Pamper yourself. Go get a shampoo and a haircut.  Get a mani/pedi. Buy a new pair of shoes.  Whatever you feel you need that day.  

*Lay in bed in your pajamas all day long and do nothing but watch tv and eat your favorite comfort foods.  

*Stretch/do yoga on ten minute breaks.  This can be a life saver.  It can really center you and slow/calm your breathing and heart rate.  

*Food and water.  Eat healthy foods and drink lots of water.  We're all tempted to grab fast food or run to the vending machines, but you and your body will be happier if it is getting nutritious food and staying well hydrated.  Avoid caffeine.  

If you need to catch up on real life on your days off, make sure to set aside time on that day that is totally about relaxation and checking in with yourself.  

Hope some of this helps!  I wish you the best!

Mac Calder

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Dealing with stress
« Reply #3 on: Mar 03, 2006, 06:21 pm »
I am lucky enough to have a small, quiet japanese Zen garden near by, and often take a few hours during a really busy time to just sit there and, well not meditate per say, but just sit down, drink tea and let my mind wander.

Usually stress is caused by the chaotic nature of everything arround you, so it often helps to give yourself some form of ritual activity during the day - for some people this is a sit down breakfast or dinner with the family at a specific time every day, for others this may be having tea at midday, it may be your daily 'beauty routine' or whatever.

A lot of people recommend things like stress balls - whilst I have a few myself, I find they are a quick fix and do not actually releave stress, but rather supress it.

I think the oriental countries like China and Japan have some really good methods for the release of stress. A relgion which centers largely on obtaining spiritual enlightenment through being 'at one' with ones self is reflected in their culture. Unlike religions like catholocism within which your spiritual enlightenment is found through abject devotion to a divine being. No offense to christians as a whole, but I think that the oriental (ie buddhist) method of finding enlightenment by first finding yourself is a far better basis for a religon. (I am not religious, and do  not want to turn this topic into a relgious debate, just stating my observations as one who respects all religions and peoples right to believe in them, yet quietly says "I am fine not believing in any one faith or the occurance of divine beings thank you very much")

centaura

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time management
« Reply #4 on: Mar 03, 2006, 07:44 pm »
Quote
I am in the middle of about a million things. As a stage manager/student I tend to over commit (but what stage manager doesn't?)


I would amend that as "what student doesn't".  But its a good learning experience - one of the things that I learned in college was where my breaking point was, and now I know how to schedule myself so that I don't hit it.  While it might seem tempting to fill every moment of every day with things, its not a schedule that you can keep up for years on end without it doing serious damage.  The fact that you're breaking down on a regular basis is telling me that you're not in a healthy situation.

Quote
I just wish there was a better way to deal. Please let me know what you do.


What folks out of college do is work on one thing at a time, until they're comfortable with being able to take on other commitments.  Right now, if you don't have at least one day a week where you're not obliged to be anywhere (for work) then you're over stretched.  Now, that being said, you're in the situation where you obviously have to work to support yourself as a student, so the only place you have give is the number of other tasks within your department that you take on.  My advice would be to drop at least one item next semester or year, and commit some of that time to just doing nothing.

-Centaura

sm88

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Dealing with stress
« Reply #5 on: Mar 04, 2006, 01:45 pm »
Hi. I've found myself in similar situations, while only being a senior in h.s. This past fall, I did the stupidest thing I've ever done, and was the SM and Publicity Manager for one show that went up in October at my school, Produced one that went up in November at MIT, and was ASM/Props/In the pit for one in December at Harvard, oh yea, and I was the SM of a show that started rehearsals in November also. I'm glad I did something so stupid now instead of later...as at least I've realized what I can and can't handle.

ORTaurean

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Dealing with stress
« Reply #6 on: Mar 05, 2006, 11:05 am »
A sage Stage Manager once told me that "There is always a beginning, a middle and an end."

This piece of advice has always stuck with me through great shows and evil, through thick and thin, through stressful and relaxing moments.

The trick is, after you reach the end, what have you learned?  What can you do better next time?
Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
-Rosiland Russell

Kestrel_Childers

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Dealing with stress
« Reply #7 on: Mar 10, 2006, 11:09 pm »
I did a "stress management handbook" for my special projects class in my final year of stage management.  It gives a variety of information on what stress is, what it can do to you, and a slew of ways people can deal/do deal with it from a variety of sources (books, psychologists, health professionals).  

I'd be happy to email it to you if you'd like, or provide it for posting on this website as an article.  Message me if you'd like a copy.

smejs

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Dealing with stress
« Reply #8 on: Mar 12, 2006, 06:05 pm »
Quote
How do you deal with the stress that builds up over time?


I am quite a Queen of the Toys...especially ones that light up.  But I have several stress-relieving ones...there are various squishy balls, etc to have around at all times, but my favorites are the ones you only have in your office or at home...when I worked in Milwaukee we had a talking Babe the Pig.  At midnight or so it broke the tension to hear "LA LA LA!" sung very loudly by a pig.  Or the one that looked like someone's eyes peering out of a crate that knocked and said, "Excuse me....excuse me....EXCUSE ME!  COULD YOU LET ME OUT OF HERE??!!"  And my personal favorites are Jibber Jabbers.  The toy that looks like troll doll hair with a very long neck....that you can grab by the neck and shake (instead of any coworker you'd rather do it to) and it kinda gurgles back at you.  They were taken off the market years ago because of Shaken Baby Syndrome (a "don't do this to your little brother" warning came with it for a while).

And remember to laugh.  Even at yourself.

Erin

SingingPixie

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Dealing with stress
« Reply #9 on: Mar 16, 2006, 12:52 pm »
I find that one thing that really helps is to plan ahead. If you don't look at least a month in advance, something is going to blindside you and bring you past your breaking point. For example, right now I just closed my college mainstage show (40 or so hrs a week SMing), am doing props for the next one, ASMing at a local road house (about 20 hrs a week now that my show closed) working at an Event Production office on campus (maybe 10 hrs a week), Production Managing for a new company (10-20 hrs per week), and taking classes full time. In the next month I'll be adding another job one day per week possibly, and PAing at a professional theater in DC. Of course once the PA job starts I'll cut back to 5-10 hrs per week at the other two jobs, and keep the PM gig pretty consistant. What's keeping me sane is that I'm doing homework for the rest of the semester this week (spring break) as well as the vast majority of my props. Get what you can done WAY before deadlines so you can focus on a couple things at a time. Also, multitask- can you bring schoolwork with you to work? That helps. Finally, delegate when you can. It's amazing how helpful it is when you can trust the people on your team, so you don't have to do everything yourself. In any case, be realistic about what you can do and plan it out in advance- there's nothing wrong with turning some things down so you can do your best on everything you do.

groovygert

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Dealing with stress
« Reply #10 on: Mar 21, 2006, 01:51 pm »
water, decent diet, allow yourself moments to focus, rest (when applicable), and above all MAINTAIN YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR. i have overbpoked myself in simliar situations (i don't know if that much, but, you know) and just kept my head up and kept going. don't be afraid to take care of you.

ESM_John

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Re: Dealing with stress
« Reply #11 on: Jun 18, 2006, 10:17 pm »
As nerdy as it might be i find peace out of making my calendar. It feels good to know where everything plays out and how to prioritize. Definetly a stress relief.

As others have said, eat right, sleep good and take ur life "one cue at a time".

killerdana

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Re: Dealing with stress
« Reply #12 on: Jun 18, 2006, 10:42 pm »
Take time for yourself.  Whether it's waking up 20 minutes early to have a quiet, unrushed breakfast, or taking a walk around the block during a break, it will help you keep your head together and stay sane.  When we're stressed we tend to forget ourselves and rush from one task to another.  Any time you can even take 5 or 10 minutes to yourself will help.
Science without art is sterile.  --Albert Einstein

erin

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Re: Step one in dealing with stress
« Reply #13 on: Jul 03, 2006, 04:05 am »
Um, most stage managers DON'T over commit.

And yet, as a student, you kinda have to.  I seem to recall a certain SM working multiple jobs and nearly keeling over one summer just after graduation....

- Sleep.  It's tough to find the time, but you must.  Breakdowns are even more time consuming.

- Drink water.  Not caffeine.  Caffeine energy runs out and crashes your immune system.

- Exercise.   A quick run around the building during a break gets your heartrate up in a good way, releases endorphins, burns off some negative energy, and helps tire your body enough to get decent sleep.

- Let it out.  At home.  Warn neighbors first (lest the police show up) and scream your head off.  Punch some pillows.

- Breathe.  Put a reminder sticky note where you'll see it constantly.  Every five minutes or so, take five deep breaths in and out.  Exhale completely. 

erin

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Re: Dealing with stress
« Reply #14 on: Jul 03, 2006, 04:09 am »
If you have the time and $$$, you can try seeing a hypnotherapist during a down eveninng between shows and have them record a session that you can listen to on your own whenever you need to relax and clear your mind.
I had a session for chronic pain that i listen to every night (the recording of the session, her talking through the process) before sleep and always wake up feeling better.

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