Letting go of stress

Hi, so today I thought I’d share a couple of thoughts on stress in case it’s helpful to you.

I just released a beta version of my latest game and in order to do that I worked some pretty crazy hours (past midnight every day and also two full weekends), culminating in a stint where I stayed up until 4am and could barely type. Although I was under pressure, I didn’t feel much stress and I certainly didn’t start snapping at people around me. I just got on with the work and kept prioritising what I needed to do. In fact it’s actually quite interesting having to focus and work intensely in order to meet a tight deadline. Also I found it important to actually enjoy the work that I was doing and to live more in the moment than worry about deadlines etc. Listening to music and working in an empty office at night helped me with this. Anyway, the beta test went well with very positive feedback and my boss was pleased with it, which is good!

Then two days later, just as I was chilling out, I got some interesting news…

We have a house in England that we spent lots of money making nice ($20000 or so) so that we can rent it out whilst we are in Vancouver and we just heard yesterday that two radiator pipes have burst and leaked water through the light fittings onto the brand new living room carpet in two places which has also blown the electrics. So the pipes need to be repaired by going through newly decorated floors and ceilings (because one of leaks is under a tiled bathroom) then the damage needs to be repaired all round. Naturally this will be costly and just the day before we had used some money I earned to pay off our debts, which we felt good about. Furthermore our first tenants are due to move in in one week’s time and start paying rent! To top it off we found out that our insurance policy probably won’t cover it. So we are having to remotely manage tradesmen to repair the damage as quickly as possible whilst getting another loan.

How would you feel if that happened to you? I could feel really bad at this hassle, expense and the fact that our nice house is ruined, but I have chosen not to – I’m completely detached from it, it’s just a problem to be solved like so many others. This decision to not feel stressed about it enabled me to have a great night in watching Battlestar with my fiancée. Also I have a cold right now and that actually seems much more of a pain in the ass than the house issues because it’s literally in my face.

I think several things helped me to let go of this stress. One was that I’ve just been through a really busy period and so this issue just feels like one more thing to deal with (also we moved continent about two months ago, which involves a *lot* of things to deal with). Another is that I went to a local Ki Aikido class the night before I heard the house news and was feeling pretty chilled out. It also really helped that Helen, my fiancé, did not get stressed about it either; so we didn’t fuel each other’s potential feelings of stress – maybe it helped that she told me via email instead of face to face. We then communicated via email discussing the damage and remedies and various issues related to situation. For me it definitely helps to get all this stuff down on paper (or virtual paper) so that I can see clearly and that this stuff is not still trapped in my head making me worried or stressed etc.

Right now my main intentions are to have a really nice relaxing weekend with my family, play some games and get rid of my cold. The house problem will resolve itself eventually with a little input from us and is really not worth getting stressed over :-)

I encourage you to look at situations that might be stressing you out now and see if writing down all the factors helps you to de-stress (maybe it’ll make it worse, lol). Then if you need to take some action towards the stressful thing, go and do it. But if it’s the kind of stress where you have to wait a while before the next action can be taken, just let it go! Breathe deeply and feel the stress seeping away – feel yourself relaxing. Then go and enjoy your day because you can’t do anything about the situation right now.

8 Responses to “Letting go of stress”

  1. Emmanuel Says:

    This is the “theorem of Marty” — bad things happens in waves, and so do good things. The best thing to do is to let go or to try and turn a negative into a positive. The number of good and bad things that can happen is also statistically linked to the number of ‘things’ in your life; if you have a house, a rental place, several kids and gainful employment, statistically, something will happen every week :o

    Last year while I was working 16 hour days to finish Az2, a pipe burst under the house and we basically had to break tiles and concrete outdoors in several places to find it.. The place looked like a dig site. I had wanted to redo that tiling anyway (the previous owner had put it there, I never liked it), so it gave me a good excuse to redo all of it, it gave us the occasion to replace some cheap pipes by good ones, and Az2 still shipped on time :o

  2. Grey Alien Games Says:

    haha, thanks for the story Emmanuel. Indeed it is true that the more stuff you have going on, the more shit can hit the fan ;-) But we can’t just live life in a little cave with nothing in it so that nothing ever goes wrong. Life is full of ups and downs it’s just important to ride out the downs and love the ups. I’m hoping the wave of good things starts around the time my next game launches… :-D

  3. Helen Says:

    Ideally your ability to cope with stuff should expand in line with the number of things you have going on or responsibilities.

    Sometimes it’s good to simplify to reduce responsibility and give yourself a break, but over the long term I think it’s better to build up your resiliance & coping skills so you can take on more with ease & still enjoy life meanwhile.

  4. Grey Alien Games Says:

    For sure. It’s also essential in business to be able to handle more and more without stress if you want to succeed. Although I know that some people prefer the do less approach, well if you can kinda combine both then that should be pretty darn efficient…

  5. Juuso Says:

    Awesome calmness, You certainly deserve your black belt :)
    (…and so same goes to Helen.)

  6. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Thanks Juuso but actually it turns out that this issue was just training because Helen called me today and said “so I spoke to the tax office today and they said I owe £4000 in tax” and I said “when do they need it by?” and she said “31st of Jan”. OMG! Well we stayed calm and worked out how to pay it. I had a hot chocolate and cookies afterwards to help me feel better…

  7. Juuso Says:

    Man… that’s at least 2 dan black belt calmness ;)

  8. Bill Andrew Says:

    Absolutely love your blog! Definitely bookmarking it.