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Instant Stress Relief

9 June 2009

Get out there and feel the wind in your hair and the rain on your back! Here’s a personal story from one former sales executive to anyone in sales who is currently stressed out of their mind…

I spent 8 years in IT sales in London and during that time, I constantly suffered from physical and mental exhaustion to some degree. The nature of the work is that it consumes your every waking and sleeping moment; the target never goes away because you have to constantly build your pipeline up.  If at the bottom of the leader board, you have to deal with the stress, panic and apprehension of losing your job, not making any commission, and those difficult conversations with the boss.

I tried to deal with these pressures by working harder and longer than the other guy. Yup, the results came and I was successful in terms of sales number against my peers but suffered massively in every other areas.  I used to get up before 6am, cycle 16 miles to work (in central London), do a 10 hour day hunched over the laptop and load up on coffee and calories until I was turning the lights off in the office before cycling home to a couple of large gin and tonics.  The weekends were the usual round of parties and social engagements, where I would always party too hard in an attempt of escapism that would blot out the pressures of work.  The biggest fallacy that I suffered with for years, was thinking that, if I could just this make this year’s quota, then I would get out of the industry with my ego intact, money in the bank and know I beat the odds. Well it never happened; the target always goes up and you always spend your bonus!

Relieve this pressure by learning to sail, windsurf or kayak. Or, if you don’t like the water, do a mountain biking course, learn to climb on rock or set yourself a hill walking challenge. This works on many levels, it’ll teach you something new that will stimulate your brain, it’ll push your comfort zones, but most importantly, it’ll give you something to talk about that is more interesting than the new restaurant round the corner, or the implications of the interest rate on your mortgage!  You can do all these activities on your own by joining a course, or with your family (in search of that elusive ‘quality time’), or even better, get a couple of mates from the office together – maybe even raise some money for a charity. There’s a challenge out there for everyone and I recommend you choose one that is just outside your comfort zone. Bottom line is give it a go.

Whether hiking through rain for hours or admiring the unobstructed view from a summit, an outdoor pursuit will give you a sense of perspective.  I love water sports because when you’re bobbing about on the sea in a little craft, you realize that your job, your boss and your target are insignificant compared to the next gust of wind that comes along and takes you off again.


Check out the links below for some ideas and inspiration.

www.exelement.co.uk (Outstanding outdoor pursuits company, based in the UK)

www.thebmc.co.uk (The British Mountaineering Club)

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One Comment »

  • Matt said:

    Too right Chris! I find, if I can get out on my mountain bike or go for a surf after work, when I get home I feel far more relaxed, I can wolf down a healthy meal and I sleep like a baby. If I can’t get out there for whatever reason, I feel lethargic, grumpy, don’t have much of an appetite and find it difficult to get to sleep. It’s just a case of forcing yourself to get out there – once you’re there, work is a distant memory!

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