General chatter - De-stressing

View Full Version : De-stressing

12-15-2010, 02:09 AM
So, I have this really difficult job teaching at a university here in Europe. Half of the time I don't even feel qualified. But, they hired me and pay me. Anyway, I am still relatively young, I teach 60 students and am a full-time student in a graduate program here (which also is difficult, as I am learning a difficult topic in a difficult language) and, on the side, I am translating for a professor here that is never satisfied (yet, still wants me to keep working).

I am a perfectionist and I am far from perfect in ALL of my positions here. While working and going to school in America, I could reach a minimal level of perfection (I knew I was good enough) in all of my studies and work.

I love that I have the opportunities I have here. I even met my boyfriend here, who is the most wonderful person. But, while I'm not necessarily failing at my work, I still don't feel like I'm succeeding. I feel like I'm literally just keeping my head above water.

This is causing me major stress. Like, real, internal stress that I try to suppress, but then shows up in the form of a HUGE swollen stress zit on my back or face.... these zits are NOT normal.

The things I do so far to combat the stress of not being good enough are jogging 4 x weekly, walking 3 x weekly, coming to this forum and reading other people's problems and triumphs (a nice change from academia, where no one is allowed to admit weakness).

But I need more ideas! How do you push the self-criticizing thoughts out of your head and just de-stress.... turn everything off??

12-15-2010, 02:17 AM
Germans are really hard to deal with sometimes - they're so direct about opinions and that layer of polite cushioning you get with Americans or Japanese just doesn't exist. I admire you for not imploding.

As for perfectionism and feeling good about what you do, can you try to care less? I don't mean slack off at work or settle for mediocre grades in your studies, but rather try and put more emotional value on your relationships and your "me time" and slightly less on work and school? As for feeling successful, I don't think most successful people go through life thinking "I am damned successful, look at me" - they're probably stressing out about staying afloat and struggling with challenges. Perhaps they, too, have stress zits.

Where in Germany are you? Can you go on an outdoor hike or a weekend away with a bunch of hippies? Sometimes literally screaming into the wilderness can be the greatest catharsis.

Also if you have any recommendations for what kinds of flammkuchen are the best, I'm all ears ;)

12-16-2010, 04:36 AM
thanks for your answer - I've read it a few times. It helped. German's absolutely lack the friendly cushioning. When they critique, they really critique, meaning nothing positive will be said - they don't even have a word for positive reinforcement!

And I need to figure out how to try and care less- that is so true. Like, I need to find out how to turn my mind off. Maybe I need to learn meditation... I've always wanted to do it, but then I get lazy or forget.

Successful people have stress zits too. Yeah. I think the reason that I am getting the stress zits because at no point in time do I feel like what I'm doing is my natural calling or whatever. Oprah always likes to say that when you are doing what you should be doing - as the universe calls you to do that- then everything falls into place and you are successful.

Well, that is NOT happening to me. Still waiting for that whole universe calling thing....

Flammkuchen - Its just the thin pizza with no sauce... they sell it at most bakeries for lunch. Thin layer of cheese and maybe a tiny bit of potato or ham. It is probably about 300 calories (I've attempted adding it up in the past, they really don't pile it high with toppings). If you are visiting Germany, be prepared for the bakeries. For Germany, bakeries are SO important. They are the fast food in America or the sushi in Japan. It is what they are known for. I have NEVER met a low-carber here.... it is like, culturally unthinkable that they should live without bread.

A few tips: If you get a whole grain role, it averages at about 190 cal. They usually eat one for breakfast and one for lunch with turkey, ham, or cheese. They put some butter on it (probably 30 cal. worth). Then, they usually have another bread of sorts as a snack around 3pm.... and dinner is heavier. So, being a calorie counter here and having to eat out is not tragic, its easy to find healthy, whole grain options and stay away from fried foods.

12-16-2010, 06:55 AM
Ah yes those bäckers are going to put the pounds on me. I'm going to Berlin for New Year's Eve and spending some time with hippies (who eat healthily, thankfully) in Mannheim/Karlsruhe before that. I plan on eating a lot of flammkuchen and drowning my sorrows in spätzle and currywurst. It'll be my fourth trip to Germany - every single time, I have put on a kg or two.

As for natural callings and Oprah etc, are you on a one-way career path toward something that isn't your calling or is your situation a somewhat temporary one? Stay strong and hang in there. You're doing more with your life and taking on a bigger load than what most people could handle and that is really admirable.

12-16-2010, 01:47 PM
I would like a flammkuchen I think!

It sounds like you are doing a lot of the best things already. Exercise is vital to get those endorphins going.

What about a hobby? How about getting lost in a novel just for fun? Needlework? Knitting? Pottery? Boxing ;)? It sounds like a lot of your life is focused on academia, boyfriend, and exercise. Maybe expand to something totally random just because it seems a little bit interesting?

I remember when I was in grad school for midwifery. I was working as a labor and delivery nurse, studying midwifery, and I was pregnant. I remember one day thinking "If someone even says the word 'pregnancy' or 'birth' to me right now, my head will explode!" So I picked up a couple of low-brow cozy mystery paperbacks and got sucked into a different world for awhile.

12-16-2010, 02:55 PM
I gained weight when I first moved here too! But then, all of those sweets in the bakery lose their 'newness' and appeal after a awhile. Do you also eat the holland-style french fries with tons of mayo and bacon bits and tiny fried onions??!! Haha - that is like the MOST fattening thing in the world outside of deep-fried butter.

I think everything I do is just intense. Every job I do pushes me to the limits of my intellectual ability. And then doing them all at the same time, it is simply overwhelming - and then I literally don't have time to put into every task the effort I want. My life should slow down after I get my degree next year (insofar as I will no longer be a full-time graduate student).

Funnily enough, having the hobby of dieting and calorie counting is a means of control for me. Having a goal weight is something I like to strive for, its a distraction from my other duties.

And I agree Midwife, I do need to find something - a book or making art - that I can completely lose myself in for a few hours. I'm going to try doing that this weekend. And I love your story about being pregnant, working as a labor nurse, and studying midwifery! That is EXACTLY how I feel!

12-16-2010, 10:07 PM
My wife teaches a :yoga: yoga at our :angel: church from a Christian perspective and at the yoga studio. She is always getting :thanks: thank-yous from people on how much her classes have helped with their stress/life situations.

12-17-2010, 01:08 AM
bonnnie - I never got near those fries but I do like fries with mayo and crap slathered on top. Oh man I need to make a "must eat" list.

Seconding midwife's suggestion of pursuing a random hobby. Even if it's just stuff like reading fashion or travel blogs online, getting lost elsewhere makes for excellent escapism/peace time.

12-17-2010, 06:42 PM
Yoga or meditation are great for stress. There is even movement meditation, I haven't tried it personally but heard that it works really well for people that can't sit still long.

And I like the hobby idea, too. Something crafty with repetition, like crochet or cross stitch.

Thighs Be Gone
12-17-2010, 07:20 PM
Bonnnie...I think many of us are with you in your thoughts--feeling as if we are basically treading water..hoping another huge wave doesn't come...hoping that no one finds out what crap swimmers we actually are....Are you getting ample you do things you really enjoy on a regular basis? Do you have a good support system? All of these help me.

12-18-2010, 11:59 AM
I envy you that you've chosen work that really challenges you. I don't feel all that challenged with what I do, and that's stressful to me.

I'd say keep in mind that the situation will change soon. and you might want to consider having some social activity that you do on a regular basis that has nothing to do with the work that stresses you. Go out for a beer or dinner or movie or whatever with a couple of friends or friend or different rotating friends and just blow off steam. do something relatively mindless. ie have a piece of your life outside of academia.

nobody starts off at the top of their field, you're going to get better and better as you go, as you learn and get experience. the more you learn, the more you realize how much more there is to learn, and that actually is a good thing. maybe you'll get a better perspective on how much you want to "bite off." I think there are situations when people pile too much on their plates so that they're set up so they can't do their best, and then there are situations when people challenge themselves and grow over a period of time to meet the challenge. sometimes it takes a little tinkering to find the right balance.

best of luck with everything!