Don’t worry, be happy

Are you working hard right now? Has it been a while since you’ve seen daylight, other than from the inside of your office? Starting to feel exhausted, snappy and off your game?

Last week, a friend posted this meme with the hashtag #FunnyCauseItsTrue.

At this time of the year, when we are on the final push towards the end of peak competitive tendering season, things can start to get very hard and energy can be in short supply.

The stressful nature of the work – coordinating multiple people, articulating complex strategies and juggling multiple deadlines – combined with the uncertainty of the outcome, can make your stress levels very high indeed.

If this is what’s going on for you right now, don’t let stress become the norm.

Chronic stress is bad for both your mind and body, causing problems like anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system, as well as contributing to the development of major illnesses such as heart disease. 

If you've been slogging away on bids and tenders for months, there is some light at the end of the tunnel; you've just got to find the energy for that final push.

Here are some tips to manage your energy, and get through the next few weeks with your life and your sense of humour intact.

1.    Treat your work as a series of short sprints, and not a marathon. Sprinters rest and recuperate after a sprint; make sure you do that too. Plan something nice for yourself. Take short breaks. Go for a walk, get a massage. Switch your phone off and watch a movie. Swap the coffee for green juice every once in a while. Keep your life up. No-one's going to thank you if you don't get to the bank, forget to pay your bills or get to your kid’s parent-teacher conference.

In times of peak workload it's important to balance out other things in your life, so that you don't have a crisis on your hands at the other end.

In one Canadian study, reported by the American Psychological Association, researchers examined the association between “positive affect” — feelings like happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasm — and the development of coronary heart disease over a decade. They found that for every one-point increase in positive affect on a five-point scale, the rate of heart disease dropped by 22 percent.

2.    Know your body chemistry. Author of Adrenalin Junkies and Serotonin Seekers, Matt Church, explains that there are two “natural highs” – one quick (adrenalin) and one slow (serotonin). While adrenalin switches you on for short periods, serotonin keeps you feeling calm and centred for longer.

Your chemical balance profile will change over time - you may be under huge stress during the first half of the year and incredibly focused in the second half. By checking your profile regularly you'll get early warning of any imbalances so you can take the steps necessary to bring order back.

Church says every feeling you have is driven by a chemical; if you can find the chemical, you can fix the feeling. Download his Chemistry Profiler questionnaire to learn more about your body chemistry, and check out his e-books for helpful strategies.

3.    Work with your body clock, and not against it. In The Power of When: Learn The Best Time to Do Everything, Dr Michael Breus outlines four different “chronotypes” — Dolphin, Lion, Bear and Wolf — and explains why knowing yours will help you work with your body clock, and not against it.

The Power of When is one of the most useful books I’ve read this year.

After reading it over the (Australian) summer holidays, I made some changes to my schedule that have helped me to be more productive without getting up at the crack of dawn (great for Lions, terrible for Wolves and Bears).

The detailed master clocks and plans for each chronotype have also helped me to improve harmony at home; I’m a typical Bear, my partner is a light-sleeping Dolphin.

To better understand your biological programming and discover your chronotype, take the quiz.

Stress happens, it’s how you respond that makes the difference between a short-term blip and a long-term problem.

Love to hear the stress-busting strategies that have worked for you.

(And here’s a gratuitous Ryan Gosling meme just because good things come in threes).