I’ve been delving further into music and reading as an escape (such as it is) from all sorts of stress, and inasmuch as I can take advantage of them in a daily routine that is fraught with interruptions, constant stress and irregular sleep cycles, I’ve found them useful to both get in “the zone” (in the sense that more bits of my brain are actively engaged and/or focused on what I’m doing) and as a sort of dampener – when I have time to engage my right hemisphere and keep it ticking over, I tend to take things a bit more in stride, react less abruptly, look beyond the immediate future.
And since our brain is wired to do exactly that at a social level, people are, of course, a tremendous help in this regard (as long as they’re not the ones causing you stress).
For instance, having lunch with friends (not just co-workers) is a major stress sink – I would probably not have kept my cool throughout the day today if I didn’t have a decent lunch in that regard, and that coupled with spending a couple of hours interviewing folk in other parts of the company as part of process reviews was nearly enough for me to feel completely relaxed at the end of the day.
So if you’re starting to go ballistic, I’d strongly suggest you try something along these lines – go for music if you’re flying solo during work (and books or the odd movie when you’re off work), but by all means try to sit down for a while with people (even ones you wouldn’t ordinarily relate to) and try to figure out what makes them tick.
Empathy, in particular, is a great emotional dampener when you’re feeling dark enough to be confused with a “Sith”:Wikipedia:Sith Lord1…
1 Not that they can’t have great days at work as well, blowing up planets and the like – in fact, I’ve often wondered if they weren’t somewhat misrepresented in those movies – for all we know they might even be great folk…