Dr Deadline 11-07-03

Dear Doctor Deadline,

I have my suspicions that you may not be a real doctor in the medical sense, but I’d still like to ask your advice on stress. I’m getting more and more wound up by my job, to the extent that it feels like it’s starting to affect my health. I’m short-tempered with the people I work with, and I hear myself being cross with those I have to deal with on the phone. Now I’ve even started taking it home with me, and it takes me longer and longer to wind-down once I’ve left the office.

I feel that part of this is self-inflicted. Although my job can be quite frantic at times, it shouldn’t be this stressful and I know plenty of people who have more responsibility than I do without seeming to get so anxious about it. Any advice?

Dear Stressed,

You are, of course, quite right that Dr D’s qualifications did not require him to take the Hippocratic Oath, (insert your own hypocritical joke here) – but he has seen a certain amount of journalists in his time whose work has left them feeling overwhelmed, anxious or even depressed. Some may argue that this is more likely today than it was 10 years ago, as ever-smaller teams are asked to work ever-longer hours to produce ever-larger publications.

The truth is that a certain amount of stress is part of the package that you signed up for. For some that’s part of the appeal and they thrive on it. For others, it’s something to be overcome and carefully managed. So, while reiterating that he is by no means qualified to dispense this advice – and reminding you, dear readers, that you should seek real medical advice – here are some of the Doctor’s own stress-busting tips:

1. Wander up and down. Feeling chained to your desk makes you feel like a prisoner, so keep the blood flowing.

2. Split your work into smaller, achievable packets.

3. Go to lunch. Your mum will agree you’ll feel better with some food inside you.

4. Have a whinge. Let off steam with a trusted colleague or phone a friend.

5. Read poetry. Only if you like poetry, obviously (but if you don’t there’s something wrong with you anyway).

6. Listen to some music. A personal stereo is the key here. Others may not appreciate your selection of Austrian Glockenspiel Hits.

7. Tell your boss. Employers have more responsibility these days to ensure the mental well-being of their staff. n

Dr Deadline returns in two weeks

Next week: Cross Head

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