I'm going crazy.
April 20, 2012 2:46 PM   Subscribe

In the past three weeks I've gone from working 23 hours a week to 53 hours a week, and having 2-3 days off a week to having maybe one day off every 3 weeks if I'm lucky. How do I handle the resulting stress?

I took up a second job to support myself through school. It was fine at first, then I started feeling increasingly more stressed out about going to work, especially during the days when I work both jobs. It's gotten to the point where if I have to drive myself to work, which isn't often because I'm a new driver and try to space that out, I get buried under the stress of going into work and call off. This has only happened once so far, but I can feel it happening again tonight. This is a pattern in myself I've seen happen with school (but not work yet) I do great, but if the stress gets too high I crawl into bed and don't get out. Then I feel even more down on myself for forgetting that once I get there I'm usually fine.

I know that if the calling off keeps up I'm going to end up shooting myself in the foot financially or I'm going to end up losing a job entirely. Anyone who went from a low-hour part time job with lots of time off to full-time + hours, please please tell me how you handled this without going crazy. I'm seeing a psychiatrist right now and I know it would probably help but I can't afford a therapist. My school is 100% online so they don't offer free facilities like that.
posted by Autumn to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Have you told your employer that you don't want to work this many hours? The way you describe it sounds like you don't have any choice in the matter, but you do. Put your foot down, decide a number of hours that you can reasonably handle, and stick with that. If they don't respect it and continue to schedule you for too many hours, look for another job.
posted by parrot_person at 3:00 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

How many paychecks have you received working this schedule? When something similar happened to me a few years ago, holding the money at the end of the pay period helped a lot. It was very stressful though, and I asked a similar question then that gave a lot of really good tips for not going crazy when you're working a lot and schooling at the same time:

Some of the particulars from that thread that really helped:

- Eating right. Steer clear of junk food, eat lots of protein and dark, leafy greens. My go-to for this is still the Subway 12-inch black forest ham sandwich, with lots of spinach and veggies on it. Good for two meals, cheap, fast, and filling—and only about 600 calories end to end.

- Preparation. You'll need to give yourself some time to prepare for your week/month/day. Get your laundry sorted; either stock up on essentials like underwear and socks or work out a schedule that allows you to wash regularly. Try and plan out meals a week at a time. That way you're not worrying about all the little things you need to take care of while you're trying to get up and out of the house.

- Reward yourself. If the paycheck isn't enough, make sure you're taking a bit of time to do something good for your soul and/or body.

The other big thing that helped me with motivation, and this may not be applicable to you, was that I was underemployed for a loooong time before getting a second job and a promotion right together. I've been working 54 hour workweeks since then simply riding the high of having enough gainful employment. If you can wring that feeling of fulfillment out of something in your life, do it and take note. It will help.
posted by carsonb at 3:03 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

What aspect is adding the extra stresses - I am serious:

Is it the 2nd job itself - people, tasks or whatever?

Is it the fact that you have to do all this work outside your home

and then do your coursework?

And then your housework?

Is it that you sleep less?

Is it the logistics of getting from job one to job two and home again?

Is is specifically if you have to drive yourself?

It could be any one or all of these things that particulary freak you out at the moment.

It could be that you just take a little while to get used to the extra effort and are feeling extra tired and you will get used to this new state of normal in the next couple of weeks.

If it's the driving thing that would actually take care of itself if you just do it consistently for a couple of weeks because it becomes a lot less nerve wrecking and exhausting in its own right with routine.

Is it that you are somebody who needs 8.5 hrs sleep per night and all of a sudden you are supposed to cope on 6? Guess you are no longer allowed to waste time on the internet - you go to sleep when you get home.

Is it that you have a hobby like golf (and I realise this is a flawed example) which takes 4 hrs to play and you no longer have 4 hr time slots available? You need to find something you can do in the hr you have and schedule time slots for the 4 rhs that you can look forward to!

What I am saying is that you need to work out what exactly is causing you to go crazy and then you can try to work out how to fix that part of it.

To give you an example I came to the realisation the week before Easter that I had worked on average 60hr weeks since xmas...and I didn't feel like I was going crazy, I just realised that I was feeling absolutely exhausted. The solution was to do nothing at all other than veg out on the sofa, eat good, healthy food and sleep over Easter and I feel a million times better. And yes, I do function for ever on 6 hrs sleep per night. But we all have things that can send us over the edge and the more pressures you have generally the less it takes for that last straw to tip you over the edge.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:07 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like driving is the new experience that tips you over into Can't Land. If that's the case, by all means arrange for alternate transportation until you've adjusted to your new schedule.

If possible also request the same hours each week for both jobs. The regularity will help you adjust.

Eat well. Plan meals ahead if necessary - this takes more time but will help you manage the stress much much better than time-saving with junk because your body needs to do more right now. Feed the machine premium instead of regular while it needs to engage high performance.

Get help. Do you have a roommate or significant other you could enlist for support? Whether that's throwing a few essentials in with their laundry, buying your short list of groceries next time they go to the store, or listening for an intensive vent session - use your support network.

Think about the end. Think about the paycheck, the zero balance for student loans, the time when you're meant to finish the shift. Focus for a moment on the end result of the effort or the moment when you can stop running around and that could help create some breathing room in your head.

Speaking of which - breathe! Stress reactions often lead to shallow breathing which starves your body. Breathe deeply. For even greater benefit, when you breathe put all your attention and focus on the physical and sensory experience of breathing. This will help you get out of your head and into the moment. The moment is always manageable - it's our thoughts about the moment that make it otherwise.

Use self-talk. If you feel the stress kick up, tell yourself something reassuring. I can do this. I can manage my time. This is only for three hours. I've adjusted to things before so it will just take a little time. The discomfort here is temporary because I am adaptable. Whatever fits the best.
posted by hungry hippo at 10:38 PM on April 20, 2012

« Older To work full time or not...   |   Large medical bill uncovered by insurance Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.