Saturday, January 24, 2009

Post-Traumatic Gig Syndrome

Those of us that regularly work on large projects know they can be stressful and have learned over the years to manage that stress effectively in order to do the best work possible for our clients.

But what happens after the project is completed?

In my experience I've noticed that my immune system is functioning in high-performance mode, keeping me illness free until the very day after I've delivered my masters and then WHAM! I get a cold. I suspect that due to the level of adrenaline coursing through my veins and my sheer willpower to not have anything prevent me from completing my mission, I end up with an immune system crash once the gig's done and I get my first full night's sleep.

Have you experienced this yourself?

I believe I've found a solution that works quite well for me: I keep myself sleep-deprived for one week following the completion of a big project. I'll explain this in more detail...

Starting on the day after delivering my final masters, I'll sleep only five hours instead of my normal eight and continue to get up early for about a week, adding an hour of sleep each day until I'm back to normal at the end of the week. So Monday/Tuesday might be 5 hours, Wednesday/Thursday 6, Friday/Saturday 7 and Sunday I'm back to 8. I also keep my days very active and busy catching up on my correspondence, errands, and other business stuff for about 3-4 days. As it gets towards the end of the week I'll do more fun things like gaming and relaxing so by the time I get to the end of the week, my immune system has had a chance to re-acclimate. For whatever reason, this method has worked perfectly for the last 3-5 years and I haven't had a recurrence of the "getting sick after the gig" thing.

Granted, I also eat lots of organic, pesticide-free, locally grown fruits and vegetables as part of my regular diet whether I'm working or not. I go on walks with my fiancĂ©. I go to sleep around the same time each  night. I also take immune boosting supplements like Black Elderberry if I feel the onset of anything during these intense work periods. I believe these measures add to my ability to remain healthy but I also think that I listen carefully to my body and respond when it tells me I need something.

How do you manage your stress? I'm curious to know how others deal with this issue so feel free to post your thoughts and observations.

Be well!

No comments: