I just came across this brilliant animation on choice, something I feel we get carried away with, to the extent that it becomes a cause of sub conscious stress for many.  The author sets out to explain this in terms of global change and capitalism.  Whilst these are all big ideas and well outside what we can control in our lives it is still a very well argued case.  I think I need to watch it again and think about it some more to understand the impact of pervasive choice on my own life and how it affects my stress levels, as it’s a complex subject.  However I do think It will be a subject that I come back to in future.

I got pointed to this via a tweet from Action for Happiness.  This is a brilliant site and well worth a visit, with lots of food for thought.  If you are struggling with stress and burnout happiness is often something that is not a frequent visitor.  Action for Happiness provides inspiration and support to try and put a smile back on your face at least some of the time.


I recently read a post on Doug Belshaw’s Blog called “On Routine and Ritual”, which made me think about how these affect our stress levels.  Simon Grant’s comment on that post about the context of that routine is key – is it your chosen routine or an imposed one? – as to whether or not that routine works in a positive way as Doug describes or becomes a source of stress and tension.  How many of us have daily routines imposed on us that go against our own preferences?  Have you looked at what you do during the day and thought about what might be causing you stress and how you might be able to change it?

We’ve had builders in recently and I’ve found it hard to develop a routine in and around the builders, partly because I’ve lost my usual bolt hole.  I’ve been very conscious of the effect this has had on me  – a listlessness towards any computer based tasks.  I think this is related to the loss of the routine I had around my working environment, and I’m much happier now writing, in something of a makeshift version of it, now the builders have left.  The routine around my workspace is clearly important for my productivity and creativity, and hence my sense of well being in what I do.

The other thing I’ve realised this week is just how many bad mental habits I’ve acquired over the years!  Top of the list at the moment is worrying, if it was an Olympic event I’d be firmly installed in the Olympic village as a hot favourite for gold.  I’ve started taking steps to tackle it by trying to spot what I can and can’t control and to stop wasting effort on the things I can’t control.  I’m also working on putting a more positive spin on how I look at things as this does help to reduce the worry at very least.  I’m getting some support to do this and I’ll hopefully blog more about this once I’ve done more.  The big thing with habits is to take a small step and keep doing that small step, don’t try doing too much or trying to change too many things.  A brilliant source of inspiration for habit change is Leo Babatua’s Zen Habits blog, and an example of his posts about changing habits can be found here. Leo’s advice is clear and simple and written in a very accessible style.  If you like what you read  make sure you delve into the archives for a wealth of other practical ideas.

What this has lead me to is a sharp reminder about the importance of the things we do unconsciously or sub-consciously and how they have an enormous effect on how we feel.  Routines that don’t ‘fit’ with our sense of who we are, or support our needs and self sabotaging habits just cause us stress.  Take some time and sit back and think about your habits and routines.  What Is supporting you?  What can you change and then do something about it?  Please share your ideas and thoughts or pledges to change something – I’ve given you my starter for ten and I expect you to hold me to that!

I’m changing internet providers later this week so there could be a gap to the next post.  See you then..

As I’m sitting here writing this I’m feeling exhausted; my head feels as if it’s packed with cotton wool and my thoughts creep through my head at snails pace. In short, I am learning to cope with and recover from the effects of long term emotional stress. Finally recognising I had a problem and getting some help awakened my curiosity, my engineer’s need to fix and teacher’s need to explain. The Doctor describes this as stress and depression, but I wanted to know more, so Investigating further, I found this description of ‘burnout’:

“When you’re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care—let alone do something about your situation.” – http://www.helpguide.org/mental/burnout_signs_symptoms.htm

This seems to capture how I have felt recently, and believe me, I really want to change that.

This blog is going to be about recovering from stress and burnout. I am planning to share with you what I find out and what I try, and whether It works for me. What I hope you will do in return is share your ideas and experiences, whether success or failure.

One of my big enthusiasms is Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), and one of the reasons I am so enthusiastic about it is the way it uses communities to support it. The community is the place to go with questions and to share answers, but it also provides an opportunity to peer review those comments, questions and answers. What comes out of this is, I believe, trust and a cooperation and a willingness to share.

One of the key features of stress and burnout is often detachment, distance from relationships and isolation. What I hope we can do, via this blog, is to create an environment where we can support one another and help us to find tools and techniques to recover from this under this dark cloud. We can do this by sharing and providing thoughtful, honest and supportive comment on what others share, just as the best open source projects do.