Can You Stop Thinking about that Project?

The controller project manager needs everything in order.  And since nothing is in order almost ever, the project manager’s mind is always working to find ways to put things in order.  The result is a mind that is always trying to change things, never happy with things as they are.  This mind is a tired mind.  Stressed.  Unable to take a break.

If this describes you sometimes, then that is OK.  This is part of urban life as designed for us modern urban-ites (is there such a word?) But when this becomes “you” most of the time, then it might be time for some changes.

The human mind needs to rest the same way the body needs to rest.  Sometimes people neglect this fact, as the toils of the brains are not accompanied by sweat and physical movement.  So we do not feel the need to rest.  However, a preoccupied brain causes tensed muscles, irregular breathing, and the feeling of being flat out beat.  This is more stressful than physical work.  So how do we put our minds to rest?

Ahhh, the million dollar question.  I personally have not figured out a cure-for-all on this issue, but if you have, please do share.  Luckily there are a few things that can be done, so if one does not work the other might, and each person is different so do not dispair.  Here are a few proven methods that worked for some.  Which one is for you? it is up to you to try:

Some swear by prayer.  Personally, I believe nothing can be as calming as asking God for help in complete surrender.  Now, if you have tried this and did not work immediately, remember that the problem might be in your approach not the prayer itself.  Prayer works.  However, sometimes we are too hasty, or do the physical moves, but the brain refuses to succumb.  Then prayer might not be as effective.  However practice makes perfect.  One thing I learned form a colleague is to speak to God in my own language.  Tell him what is bothering me, and asking him for guidance.  Try that after formal prayer see if that works for you.

For some, intense cardio exercise gets their mind off work.  When the body tires, it requires full attention from the brain.  A friend of mine runs, not jogs.  When he is “tired” from work, he runs as soon as he gets home.  Before anything.  It helps him remove the clutter from the mind.  Another friend took more extreme measures.  He loves boxing.  He says “nothing will keep your mind focused and clear like someone trying to punch you square in the face.”  He also loves his punching bag.  Before starting, he remembers the most annoying thing on his mind that day, then punches away until he can go on no more.

Then there are the yoga types.  Some say that 20 minutes a day of yoga can help you reorder the “top shelves” (i.e. the brain) and feel in sync with surroundings, no matter how stressful the day is.  Some practice “moving” yoga in the form of Tai Chi.  Some practice yoga by watching their breath.  There are numerous ways of doing this and any might do the trick.  Try breathing deeply and slowly, allowing more time to exhale than inhale.  after doing this for a couple of minutes, try to pause for a few seconds after the exhale.  How did that feel.  Some swear by it.  You judge what is right for you.

Another thing to consider, is that you might have a personality that is prone to over thinking.  This is very common in today’s day and age.  Some (OK many) have obsessive compulsive tendencies, so they repeat the same thought over and over again in their mind, ruthlessly over heating their systems, so to speak.  Someone once described it as “a car being stuck in first gear.” To get out of that gear, you need to be consciously aware of the problem you have to agree with self to move on to another subject, or get off thinking altogether.  Obsessive compulsive behavior can be mild but also can be a mental illness that requires medication to control.

Not only obsessive compulsives overthink, but also regular personalities that are more on the “sensitive” side, like empaths.  Empaths will scrutinize their behavior in fear of being wrong, or in having to defend themselves from verbal abuse.  Some people do not care how they come across to others, or what others say to them or about them.  These are rare.  Most do care.  However, some care too much, and as a result overthink ways to protect themselves from these “attacks” by others.  Empaths need to be aware of their tendencies to be sensitive, and accordingly deal with their, sometimes overwhelming, emotions.  Deal does not mean suppress, or reject, or demean.  To the contrary; it means accepting and respecting self for what it feels and how it feels.   Then letting go.

It is amazing how we evolve and “grow” as human beings, and with that comes changes in our personalities and the ways we deal with work related stress. We need to be in tune with these changes and be accepting of ourselves and emotions.  To some, this might be the hardest thing to do, and the biggest hurdle on their road to cope with stress at work.

In the end, please remember that most projects fail, most stakeholders are dissatisfied, and when projects succeed, you might be the last to be recognized.  So, where does that leave us? Have a good day!

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