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Anxiety and IT?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the nervous-holiday dept.

IT 347

An anonymous reader writes "During these long breaks from work, it's refreshing to not have to worry about your job. Unless you work in IT, in which case you're salaried and constantly on the clock. To all the server room monkeys and desktop admins, do you suffer from anxiety? How do you deal with it? Does the crushing worry of a businesses IT infrastructure (and the rest of the business) coming to a screeching halt make IT occupations prone to anxiety?"

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I'd better not post here (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345248)

My boss might be reading this.

Chill out... (5, Insightful)

bagboy (630125) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345250)

Get on the treadmill, go for a run, etc... Stop stressin' dude.

Re:Chill out... (5, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345282)

That's pretty much the answer: physical activity relieves stress. Do some sort of activity that gets you outside and away from all the blinkenlights for a while regularly and you'll feel a hell of a lot better.

Re:Chill out... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345342)

That's pretty much the answer: physical activity relieves stress.

I disagree. I regard myself as a low stress person and I ride a bike to work, That may be a correlation but I don't think its causative. Some people wind them selves up on stress. Panic and stress feeding on each other until there is nothing else. Telling them to go for a swim or something won't help. They have to look outside the job they are working on.

Re:Chill out... (4, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345478)

I disagree. I regard myself as a low stress person and I ride a bike to work, That may be a correlation but I don't think its causative. Some people wind them selves up on stress. Panic and stress feeding on each other until there is nothing else. Telling them to go for a swim or something won't help. They have to look outside the job they are working on.

To be fair, I don't know anyone who relaxes on the trip to work. ;) As for looking outside the job you're working on that's why you need regularly scheduled activity, so it forces you to step away for a while.

I think the problem with IT, or any knowledge-based jobs, is that you don't produce anything tangible so no matter how much you work it rarely feels like there's something to show for it. That's why I recommend physical activity.

Re:Chill out... (5, Insightful)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345634)

That's people's answer to everything these days.

Me: "I'm constantly tired and irritable. What should I do to help?"

Society: "Get more exercise, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and sleep eight hours a night."

Me: "I constantly have the urge to stab my girlfriend in the face, and I see clowns in the toilet whenever I pee. What should I do?"

Society: "Get more exercise, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and sleep eight hours a night." /me solves all problems evar

Re:Chill out... (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345316)

It depends on your personality. Some people (my wife is one, a guy I work with is another) just seem to let the stress take over. My wife has this client who was pushing her to deliver work on an impossible schedule so she is up to 3 AM working on CAD drawings and wrecking herself in the process. I keep saying its not worth killing yourself over it. Life will go on without that client. But she keeps trying to deliver.

Other people know when to let the breaker trip, and go home to sleep.

Re:Chill out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345386)

Explain to them what an "enabler" is. Sociopaths are always going to take advantage of everyone, and people like your friend and your wife are just fodder for them. Better no client than a bad client.

Re:Chill out... (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345486)

Explain to them what an "enabler" is. Sociopaths are always going to take advantage of everyone, and people like your friend and your wife are just fodder for them. Better no client than a bad client.

I think there is a certain thrill in getting stressed. You get an endorphin rush from it. In a sense it could be quite addictive. Its hard to talk a person out of something like that.

If it wasn't for the last minute (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345628)

I'd never get anything done

Re:Chill out... (2, Insightful)

kolbe (320366) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345326)

^This. I have been in IT for 12 years as a Sys Admin and I have turned to everything from heavy drinking to online gaming to reading to exercise. The "most" effective way, at least for me, to avoiding stress is just get out and exercise. It helps to calm the body AND mind in a way that no other can.

Re:Chill out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345392)

FUN exercise is best. =)

I've found Brazilian Ju-Jitsu is an awesome way to exercise, be part of a team and really enjoy what you're doing. Plus, you learn some cool stuff too!

Re:Chill out... (4, Funny)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345438)

When you said fun exercise I thought you were talking about sex, which I guess would work with the rest of your comment: "I've found sex is an awesome way to exercise, be part of a team and really enjoy what you're doing. Plus, you learn some cool stuff too!"

Re:Chill out... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345404)

My secret to avoid stress... Not Caring.

Re:Chill out... (5, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345540)

The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.

Re:Chill out... (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345626)

magical words to live by there friend.

Re:Chill out... (4, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345460)

Yes. He needs to chill, he sounds like a zoloft ad or something.

do you suffer from anxiety?

No, why would I? It's just like any job. Sure, I could get called at any moment, but the biggest reliever of anxiety is knowing how to say No, and not get jerked around. Me and my boss have a system - I may be 20 or 30 minutes late for work sometimes. I may stay late to make up for it, or come in early. I might need an afternoon off. He does not harp me to be here at 8:00 AM because he knows if he did, I would be out of here at 5:00pm on the dot and not bother coming in when the phone rings. I don't have to deal with the anxiety most other jobs do because I know the policies are a bit more lax, because if they want me in an emergency, they need some perk to keep you around.

And the only way you get around that is knowing your stuff. You don't want to be replaced by some other monkey who WILL take that abuse, so make sure you read up on new stuff you don't know, and make yourself valuable. I know a lot about computers and I know the ins and outs of fixing them, and I have a certificate in Programming. However, I don't have my A+, I don't have my Network+, I'm not a Microsoft Certified Desktop Technician - all things I know I have to work towards.

How do you deal with it?

Personally, when I'm stressed, I like to go Stargazing. Makes me feel small, which makes everything else seem smaller, which makes me worry less - about everything, including my job.

Does the crushing worry of a businesses IT infrastructure (and the rest of the business) coming to a screeching halt make IT occupations prone to anxiety?

It shouldn't. Lets face it, if the server goes down - the server does down. You don't have to worry about watching it - someone will let you know when it goes down. And then you can deal with it when it goes down. Take your time off like its your time.

Get a good On-call schedule going, and make sure there's at least 1 other person who knows the basics of your job. That way, if you go on vacation, get hit by a bus, or decide to run away to mexico, you don't have to worry about the IT world - because someone else will be there to pick up your slack. Crosstraining all your employees is never a bad idea.

Re:Chill out... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345590)

However, I don't have my A+, I don't have my Network+, I'm not a Microsoft Certified Desktop Technician - all things I know I have to work towards.

I've taken a different approach to my career. I specialized. Heavily.

As a result, I'm in a position where my specialization takes me out of the day to day IT borefests. Yes, I'm responsible for the DR/Continuity stuff too, but really, that shit is easy, especially in small/mid business.

But the specialization is heavy enough that there are very few of us out here, and fewer still that can do it with any degree of competency. As a result, I am constantly being "scouted out" by headhunters...if my employer sucks & treats me like some disposable shitstain, then I'll just take the next job offer that comes my way. I get 3-4 a year...I can wait out a few months of crap & move on to something (hopefully) better.

I guess, in a much shorter version...be the fucking best at what you do, and be known that you're the fucking best at it. Beats the shit out of doing lameass MS certificates to get your resume past some HR loser.

AC for many reasons. The least of which is I don't need my employer knowing I get 3-4 job offers a year :)

Re:Chill out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345594)

Wish it was that easy.
I'm on call 24/7 to support the 24/7 staff running the actual operations. One period was so bad I had anxiety about going to sleep. For weeks I got called up every other day at around 3am, which is plain terror. The fear of being awakened from my deepest sleep got so great I did not want to go to sleep.

We did two things to combat this:
  * More staff on call
  * Operations keep track of how many times someone has been called and try to round robin the load if we hit a bad period again

Of course, doing things that takes you mind off work is also critical.

Re:Chill out... (5, Insightful)

Stephan Schulz (948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345684)

I'm on call 24/7...

If you are on call 24/7 I hope you charge them 168 hours per week. Seriously. If not, find a reasonable schedule. Being on call a day a week is ok, but being on 24/7 is only acceptable if you are on the C-level and get paid accordingly - and then you need to be able to fully control your own working hours.

Otherwise, remember, it's not your company. If the server is down, its down. If it cannot be fixed quickly, the company is losing money. Too bad. They should have bought a better server solution and paid an additional IT guy. The people in charge need to live with their decisions. It's not your responsibility unless you are in charge.

Re:Chill out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345660)

I'm salaried and for the last two years I've not received a salary increase from my employer. So I decided to give myself a salary increase by working less hours. Now I'm making more per hour. I simply refuse to do charity work for the share holders. I'm feeling much better now. I can always look busy and do something else for myself.

Re:Chill out... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345732)

I'm salaried and for the last two years I've not received a salary increase from my employer. So I decided to give myself a salary increase by working less hours. Now I'm making more per hour. I simply refuse to do charity work for the share holders. I'm feeling much better now. I can always look busy and do something else for myself.

You think the shareholders saw a dime of your charity? You were doing it for your bosses bonuses, plain and simple. The modern American executive now has the wonderful position of being able to fuck over the employees AND the shareholders to get bonuses they don't deserve. CEO salaries are rising at 2x the rate of the S&P and I don't see that trend reversing anytime soon, if anything it's just going to get worse with the CEO loving, share-holder hating Republicans at the helm.

Hell yes!!! (2, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345268)

Massive anxiety, and stress.
Frequently relieved by Beer.

Re:Hell yes!!! (1, Informative)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345492)

... yeah, until you start to fear the beer, because you realize that all that beer is slowly destroying you. Some people quit before that point, some do it at that point, and some do never quit. Which group do you belong to?
 

Re:Hell yes!!! (3, Funny)

GloomE (695185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345550)

And some kill that realisation with more beer.

Re:Hell yes!!! (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345666)

Actually I belong to the group that has a 6 pack in the fridge that has been sitting there for 2 weeks.
I have a good friend who is also in computers, and once or twice a week we hit the pub have a beer or two with a meal and bitch about our employers. It usually turns into a game of who's employer is more fucked. He always wins.
But with out those stress relieving pub nights many of my users would have simply disappeared. Perhaps I can convince my employer to pay for my pub nights.

Re:Hell yes!!! (1)

sirnobicus (1595021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345698)

Beer???? You must be new in IT. Try some Single Malts and join us old timers

Not sure.. (4, Interesting)

malkavian (9512) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345280)

If it's being an anxious person that makes me good at my role in IT (disaster recovery/business continuity), or whether doing that job simply makes me more so, as I constantly have to anticipate the worst.. Either way, yes, I'm an anxious person (and prone to mild depressions), but hey, there are ways of dealing with it. In winter times, a SAD light really helps give a boost.. Every few weeks, I hit a health spa, and get a good massage. I work out at the gym, which gives a good energy rush and helps me feel better.. I dive.. Hanging around the 30m mark doesn't give your body any choice but to relax (the joys of nitrogen).. I keep a fairly busy social life, which doesn't let me dwell (there's nothing like people to keep you distracted!).. And being able to cook pretty well helps with that (and is a great distraction itself).. When you're at work, let the focus (and anxiety) creep up; it gives you an edge.. When you're away from work.. Keep yourself busy and distracted.. In general, that works for me.. And as a side effect, it keeps me pretty healthy and well fed too!

Weed (4, Insightful)

SkankinMonkey (528381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345286)

Most people I know that work in IT smoke egregious amounts of pot.

Re:Weed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345362)

Add me to the list. Helps me fall asleep and sleep peacefully through the night.

Re:Weed (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345602)

Add me to the list. Helps me fall asleep and sleep peacefully through the night.

and thru work as well . . .

Re:Weed (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345488)

Weed agitates anxiety in a lot of people. I hear you just have to get past the curve of a chronic stoner. I look forward to the other side. This Four Loko isn't helping.

Re:Weed (1)

sitharus (451656) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345496)

And we wonder why software fails so often... You get the munchies, forget what you were doing, assume it must have been good because it seems to work!

Re:Weed (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345530)

Most people I know that work in IT smoke egregious amounts of pot.

Luckily, it hasn't affected me, though the disk arrays keep looking at me - with their constant blinking... blinkity, blink, blink - QUIT LOOKIN' AT ME!

Re:Weed (2, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345572)

That doesn't sound like the effects of Pot.

You didn't recently introduce acid into your diet, did you?

Re:Weed (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345746)

I was joking, of course, but mixing weed and stress is like mixing antihistamines, Mountain Dew and a few days of sleep deprivation. The results are not pretty - though the colors are nice, even if everything is a bit shaky.

Re:Weed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345584)

Yup. I can attest to that. Working on a short-staffed support team for an enterprise cloud software company who has customers who demand a lot and don't have their own staff on hand to handle an enterprise on-premise solution + its infrastructure, it can get rather stressful. My wife gets annoyed with me about the smoking, but for someone who doesn't drink, it's the only way aside from exercise which I already do!

Whores (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345290)

See subject

Should not be worried (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345296)

Spares, disaster plans, good hardware, good software, good staff, backups. All outages can be named and planned for.

Re:Should not be worried (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345744)

Except your boss doesn't want to approve any of the budget for that stuff because he would rather it go into his bonus than actually do anything useful for the company or its employees. He has to pay you no matter what, so from his end making you work 80 hours a week is cheaper than buying the infrastructure to actually only necessitate you working 40 hours a week. He then splits the resulting savings between his bonus and his boss's bonus.

Become the IT manager (3, Funny)

TheGiB (1165079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345298)

And delegate.

Re:Become the IT manager (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345358)

Are you serious? If the network goes down and your employer loses $70,000 an hour in lost productivity for every hour down, it is not the lowly Cisco engineer's fault. ITS YOURS! If that happens more than once your career is through.

The Cisco engineer ... well he has to hear crap from you of course but you have some very powerful enemies who can move mountains to help HR fire you.

Re:Become the IT manager (1)

SuurMyy (1003853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345538)

The manager can delegate the blame and the engineer gets fired.

Re:Become the IT manager (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345652)

Nope. Upper management will fire you instead. The engineer needs a warning and 3 write-ups and an improvement plan and all that nonsense before you can fire him. If the VP of sales can't get his email out he can convince HR to not go through these procedures to go after you though.

Also you are responsible for what someone does without your knowledge. If he makes a mistake on your day off your job is on the line. You hired him right? Management makes more for a reason.

Relax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345300)

I think that likely a high percentage of people in core IT are control freaks (like me) however, you have to learn to deal with it - and yes, go to the gym, go for a walk. It's only work and it's only systems and it's only a job. There are plenty of professions that are plenty more stressful and where failure results in much more negative outcomes than a server going down.

Re:Relax (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345688)

unless you happen to work in a sector doing public safety IT.

Stress (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345308)

Reading, cycling, target shooting, astronomy, music.... There's a million things to do. Stress doesn't make you a better worker so you may as well avoid it.

Different Source of "Anxiety"... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345318)

To all the server room monkeys and desktop admins...

If my job could be described this way, my anxiety would probably come more from the fear that I was ripe for "outsourceing" or "rightsizing" or whatever the HR thugs are calling it when they ship jobs to the slave labor camps overseas... Not from the possibility of being called in on Turkey day (when I might well be in a black-out drunken stupor)...

The difference between managers and workers (3, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345324)

The workers care about the stuff that they do, and get anxiety about it. Managers don't give a rat's ass, and have no anxiety.

The hallmark of a good executive, is that he can turn his problems, into yours.

Re:The difference between managers and workers (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345576)

Spoken like someone new to the workforce.

It's not that simple, actually. As a lower-level worker, you definitely want time to unplug and get time away from the front lines. And there's always the stress of trying to patch something under fire, or deal with rickety systems that have gone completely sideways at the worst possible moment. It's completely stressful and can be a total nightmare.

As a manager, especially those of us who have manage departments of former co-workers, or departments that we would have previously worked in, that is never far from mind. The last thing I like to do (truly) is call at an inopportune moment on a weekend, a holiday, or after a long day. Those calls come after exhausting every other option -- is this really a 10:30 PM/Saturday/company holiday problem? Can it wait until the next morning? Is there a patch coming? Is there a workaround in the meantime? Do we have someone on hand who can patch it that ISN'T on a weekend or a vacation?

Unfortunately, sometimes that call has to be made. And in those cases, there are actually dollars on the line. I have the impression that you've probably heard "dollars on the line" and think it's a lie - there are always dollars on the line, right? Well, yes. And "dollars on the line" - or "account on the line" or whatever variation thereof means, "loss we cannot realistically sustain at this point". Subtext: "We are all in a really bad position if we don't do this."

When I can run interference or manage expectations, I can. But I know that the last thing you and I want is for me to jump in on systems that I'm, at best, a couple years foggy on (or only algorithmically familiar with) -- you really don't want me jumping in where I'm totally unfamiliar with the nuances. (Nor does QA). So in those situations, I can only hang around and answer priority questions, scope reduction questions on the problem at hand, etc. If we're in the office, I'll gladly buy you a drink, dinner, whatever.

But for the love of god, don't think I don't have anxiety. I have just as much as you - it's just a different type.

The best thing for all of us to do is to try and unplug as much as possible when we're out of work. Don't let the time off be tainted by "I could get an email" or "I could get a text", etc... yes, you can, but time off spent worrying about that is not truly downtime. If the call or email or text comes, the call or email or text will come, and worrying about it will not have made that moment any less stressful. I wrestled with that for ages and you really just have to do whatever you can to make it like a switch - off at the end of the day, and if an emergency crops up, on again. It's exceedingly difficult and sometimes you need to have the burnout moment where you realize the job just isn't worth it... some people have to go to therapy to be able to build that separation. Whatever it takes, it's critical to figure out, because it will eat you alive if you don't.

And remember... in most cases, I got a call before you, and I did everything possible to *not* have to call you.

But today - I'm not checking my work email. If the world blows up, Tokyo or London will deal with it to the best of their abilities. If they can't and NY or Chicago can't, then it will come to SF and LA. And we'll do what needs to be done. Even though it sucks. (Because the alternative in those cases sucks pretty badly for all of us.)

Re:The difference between managers and workers (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345716)

Well spoken. glad to know there are other decent human beings out there.

Yeah but you got to let go (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345330)

I find if I spend all my free time on the computer too (even if I'm doing fun things) I'm more likely to keep thinking about work and the fact those of us who are talented at work are out numbers by poor management and poor developers.

Salaried or not, take your free time and get away from the computer and do something physical and fun. Eat better too. Junk food is nice sometimes but eating better will have an effect on how you feel and as always get a decent sleep.

My biggest problem was drinking coffee through out the day even minutes before bed while staying up late. I was getting very little sleep. That really drains you (or me at least).

Re:Yeah but you got to let go (1)

SuurMyy (1003853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345596)

Caffeine promotes anxiety. When getting stressed out, it's best to avoid caffeine altogether.

The opposition is only entropy. (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345350)

If the opposition is just entropy, it's not too bad. Active opposition is much more stressful. Lifeguards, firefighters, and EMTs tend not to be overly stressed. Cops and soldiers, though, routinely get stressed out.

27 years in IT and right on the nose (2, Informative)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345356)

I suffer from general anxiety disorder. It has affected my relationships, my health and my pocketbook. As of Tue I am being forced to declare bankruptcy, despite the fact WHEN I WORK I made $30-$40 an hour. I find it almost impossible to keep a job because of it. I really wish I had read this Slashdot story back in 1983. :)

Re:27 years in IT and right on the nose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345508)

After many years I've been downsized, they laid off all IT but the remote support guy.

I believe that was a lousy decision, but then again, it isn't mine. (we know that feeling)

I know I did what I could and my work has had significant value, that is what I will take away from it. They may be hurting next year, but all they are thinking of is cost savings now.

My suggestion: if you can get them to help relive your stress by adding staff/resources or taking up your ideas for greater efficiency, don't worry about it do what you can, and don't apologize for the stuff you can't. Don't set unrealistic goals; if you are stressing out, that probably is the case.

Easy (1, Funny)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345370)

Troll on slashdot. Great for relieving stress!

learn to deal with your stress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345374)

We all have anxiety issues, its just how do you deal with them?
I tend to inline skate, play guitar, work on the house, go for a walk, visit with friends & family, anything to get me away from an LCD screen.
There's always that worry about my infrastructure grinding to a halt and the company suffering because of it, but it shouldnt control your life.
It just depends on how you deal with the stress, if you choose to dwell on it (which most people i know tend to do) then you're destined to always have anxiety issues and be less productive.
A happy worker is a productive worker, when your stressed it causes problems everywhere in life... Follow the KISS rule (Keep it simple... stupid) and life will follow with the work, less anxiety, more productivity, and less stress all around.

Re:learn to deal with your stress (1)

instagib (879544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345610)

> anything to get me away from an LCD screen
I agree. I use CRT monitors at home.

Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345378)

I enjoy my job too much, and budgets are so low that if something eventually fails, I just replace it and they start from scratch. None of the data we keep really matters much except finances and we keep those backed up and tested. My contract also releases me from any potential legal action from the company since they declined to pay for much in the line of backups. I keep my systems as robust as possible considering my budget. We're also a mon-fri 830-1630 company and I drop my blackberry on the table when I walk in the door after work.

Look at other people's work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345390)

If you're any good, it should be easy to find examples how other people screw up a lot worse than yourself and don't get strung up by their balls for it. People make mistakes, perfectionism is unhealthy. You are not the hero who must, can and does save the day every day, or does your paycheck tell that story? Didn't think so. Relax.

Re:Look at other people's work (1)

SuurMyy (1003853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345578)

Good advice, but hard to follow after you've been laid off a couple of times even if you're very, very good.

Of course (2, Insightful)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345396)

Of course a crushing worry will introduce anxiety. In stressful times, people will be stressed. So I'm not sure what you're asking, other than idle chit-chat of anxiety anecdotes.

Anyway, it's certainly not specific to IT. Guess who else deal with standby time: doctors, police, flight attendants, engineers and service crews in other fields (transportation, organised events, most restaurants and bars). Each of which having to deal with systems far less redundant and scalable than what we can set up in IT.

Requires Experience (2, Insightful)

HtR (240250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345402)

I have found that handling the anxiety comes with experience. For example, I no longer care if the rest of the business comes to a screeching halt.

Team (1)

daveryan (1286308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345406)

This 'team' thing that managers keep banging on about. It swings both ways. If the manager can't be arsed to ensure that things keep going without any one person, then they've f*cked up. End of the day, the IT person doing a job, just does that job. It's the manager's job to ensure that someone else could step in, should something happen. So don't sweat it. If things collapse in a smoking heap just because you're absent, that's the manager's f*ck up, not yours. And no sane employment tribunal will see it any other way.

Personally... (3, Funny)

eldurbarn (111734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345418)

When I was in that position, I would wake up each morning, go to the washroom and throw up into the toilet.

Then things got worse and I landed in the cardiac care ward.

While out on disability, they fired me.

I'm now unemployed and the lack of stress is WONDERFUL!

Re:Personally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345466)

I don't miss working in the IT field one little bit.
If it paid like it did prior to the H1-B visas and dot-com dunces flooded the market I would do it again.
Low pay high stress, not worth it

Re:Personally... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345468)

When I was in that position, I would wake up each morning, go to the washroom and throw up into the toilet.

Are you sure that had to do with job anxiety? Perhaps you should have hit a few AA meetings or something. Jägermeister for breakfast, lunch, and dinner takes its toll, dude.

Re:Personally... (1)

magical liopleurodon (1213826) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345534)

Those assholes!! Can they do that? I'd sue the f*ckers

The best way to avoid all that anxiety ... (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345440)

Does the crushing worry of a businesses IT infrastructure... coming to a screeching halt make IT occupations prone to anxiety?"

.. is to do it so things work.

Things don't come "to a screeching halt" on their own. It requires talent to make the sorts of mistakes that aren't blindingly obvious and that remain hidden during the pre-prod testing (you *do* test before putting something live?). Having a resilient configuration, that is monitored properly and gives plenty of warning of a problem helps, too.

So far, in 12 years looking after this current setup, I've never had an unscheduled call outside working hours. The problem with that is that it makes me look invisible. It's hard to convince "management" that the systems don't look after themselves and will throw novel and exotic problems if not looked after properly. But that's why we take vacations.

Re:The best way to avoid all that anxiety ... (2, Insightful)

SuurMyy (1003853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345546)

You can't do a proper job in all companies regardless of how good you are.

Re:The best way to avoid all that anxiety ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345706)

I spend a lot of effort on making the systems self healing by having "meta systems" analyzing the errors and look at the real time telemetry from the systems. For some known bugs that cannot be fixed I have written logical apps that try to predict them and start evasive action beforehand.

This is not your average Exchange install, though. This is satellite TT&C.

Easy (1)

rikkards (98006) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345452)

Don't be salaried. Salary is for suckers. I work, they pay me. They think twice about calling me in as it costs them more money. On salary, any hour you work over 37.5 devalues how much you are really worth. If you want the security of having salary make sure they compensate you for any overtime.

Work harder at work (1)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345464)

Build redundant systems on work time, such that only common faults are those that are unpredictable and unpreventable e.g. building catching on fire. When your systems are resilient to common faults, you don't have any anxiety about leaving them to look after them selves, and you know that if a common failure occurs, recovering is easy because you're prepared for it.

"There's no excuse for predictable and preventable downtime (except laziness and incompetence)."

Re:Work harder at work (1)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345476)

And I should say, the approach to take is to be constantly eliminating the weakest link until the point where eliminating it is not feasible. You'll end up with the weakest link being very strong - availability is a weakest link type problem.

Re:Work harder at work (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345536)

Yeah... that works if your business is willing to spend money to build redundant systems. It's cheaper for them to put you on-call 24/7 and yell at you when things break.

Toughie (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345494)

This has been a really difficult post to formulate.

I haven't really put much thought into why I don't particularly have a great deal of stress today. (That was not always true) In past places of employment my stresses were due to inexperience and lack of proper support and escalation paths. In those cases I was both the end of a very short escalation path and in lots of scenarios the technology was very new. I also wasn't compensated very well for the troubles until I decided that I should probably find someone who was willing to pay me better for my troubles.

The stress then was the product of the environment and it wasn't a very good position for the company to be in as well. I did grow from the experience, but there was far too much risk for the savings achieved. I've since then moved onto a few companies who generally have their act together. I've made it a point to ask about their escalation and support practices from vendors and integrators. My past experiences generate a bit of a paranoia today and I believe some may refer to that as wisdom. (I call it emotional scarring ;) )

That is really only part of the story when you really think about it. There are many avenues for stress to invade our lives. As some pointed out there could be ridiculous deadlines involved or in other cases poor time management skills. Life is not always about how others punish us, but how we cause distress upon ourselves with our own practices.

In every way, it is important to identify what is causing the anxiety and determine if it can be fixed. If your group or company wants to operate in a fashion that is dangerous for its profits or reputation then it is up to management to decide to stay or sway from the path. In all cases, you can vote with your feet and even if it takes time to change positions there is generally always an out.

At least at my current place of employment we state clearly that people will make mistakes. It's part of the way we operate because we are just too damned last minute. Directors do not like to hear such things, but if they would like to curb issues they could force better planning practices. (Which we kinda did to an extreme sadly... careful what you wish for).

This and many more things contribute to me operating relatively stress free. I have however built up a good chunk of skills and experience which let me operate with as little stress as possible. Mostly today I'm annoyed at the evening calls that happen outside of my oncall period and that is more of an an anger issue.

Beer (1)

Logic Worshipper (1518487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345504)

I drink beer. Sometimes just one in the evening, sometimes I go out and get drunk. Going out with friends is great too.

Mambi pambi land..... (1)

TimeOut42 (314783) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345510)

"... Maybe we should chug on over to Mambi Pambi land where may be can find some self confidence for you, ya jackwagon .... tissue?"

If it's that bad then become a greeter at Walmart and then you don't need to concern yourself with the IT Infrastructure. But, if you like the paycheck and the fact that you might doing something really cool then go outside, workout, read, get a hobby, drink heavily, whatever to let those feelings turn toward something constructive. But to complain about a high-stress job in a highly technical field to other high-tech inclined people is just plain silly.

All the usuals + Meditation (4, Insightful)

cplusplus (782679) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345512)

I've gotten a lot more disciplined in my exercise schedule, and have always eaten good foods, but I've started going to weekly mediation and have been going for about a year now. The exercise just helps me feel good (hooked on endorphins!), but meditation helps bring awareness and focus and has given me the ability to slow down and pause during the day, let my thoughts all line up, and then focus on one at a time. Having the ability to focus on one thing at a time is nice.

Re:All the usuals + Meditation (1)

SuurMyy (1003853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345554)

The problem for me is that when I'm stressed out I can't make myself meditate. I just completely don't feel like it. However, I micro-sleep, instead. And it start very quickly when something stops me, like a meeting.

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345516)

Meditation

Salary Increase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345518)

I'm salaried and for the last two years I've not received a salary increase from my employer. So I decided to give myself a salary increase by working less hours. Now I'm making more per hour.

Re:Salary Increase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345560)

I simply refuse to do charity work for the share holders.

Chicken and Egg (1)

six025 (714064) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345520)

While certain environments may contribute to overall levels of anxiety and stress if not properly managed, it is the "anxiety" that makes us geeks so obsessive about a given task. How we manage the anxiety and how we let it affect our well being is part of what separates those who are successful at their work from the average. Success in this context is not meant in financial terms, but the ability to get things done in a timely manner, on spec, and with a high degree of satisfaction regarding the finished product.

Also it has been a long running joke with certain colleagues of mine that programmers in particular are prone to having, at least to a small degree, autistic tendencies. Without a singularly focussed mind it would be very difficult or impossible to complete certain development or IT related tasks.

Of course there are always exceptions but these are some personal observations arising from 20 years of working in development, or development related environments.

Peace,
Andy.

Stressed about what? (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345522)

My equipment can run for a few days without me being there to monitor every little transaction. In 5 years with my current company, I've been required to deal with IT stuff after hours twice. All other after-hours work has been scheduled and I shifted my time by coming in late or leaving early. That's averaging about once per year. So my stress levels are low.

Indifference (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345532)

Obviously your going to feel the stress but the common factor for keeping your cool, at least to me, is indifference. Yes there is a pressing deadline, penalty clauses and blah blah blah but you can't do anything about those factors so you may as well do your best to view them as a distraction from the goal. If you are a tech, it's not your job to feel stress because ultimately that reduces your effectiveness.

Organising your work in certain ways gives you better control which reduces stress. No major changes on Fridays - ever, if you do be prepared to write off your weekend. Also it depends on the team you work with. If they are assholes then the stress levels are going to be higher, if you have passive aggressive types that dig their heals in or the frantic type that create stress or can't handle stress then you have to develop other strategies.

I personally experience stress more from the way people behave rather than from pressing technology task. Ultimately stress is induced as an outside influence usually not in your control. You have to be able to step back from it, figure out what you can control (usually your own reaction to the circumstance) and exert that control to remain effective.

FDQED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345570)

too much food, drugs, and (hopefully) a quick and early death.

thanks for asking.

Ask your doctor how he does it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345582)

Many doctors are on call for most of the time, carrying a pager, or having given out personal phone numbers to certain patients they worry about, etc.
Ask your doctor how he or she manages the stress and anxiety stemming from this. They should be able to give you some good advice because (a) they have first hand experience and (b) they know how the human body and psyche works. If they recommend you become a chain smoker go to another doctor next time. :-P

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345608)

Actually i think my stress levels went DOWN after working in server room/data centers.

the way technology is these days, tight integration with monitoring solutions, fail over, redundancy, smart phone accss, and all those other fancy techie buzz words we got now.

Everything feels more under control and much easier to keep watch on. Our job feels easier when we know we have immediate solutions to (most) critical problems.

No, I don't (1)

Kocureq (1191079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345612)

I don't stress about work after work. The thing is: the right organisation. You have people you can rely on, that will do the job when you're not there. And yes - that means someone available under the phone 24x7. Sometimes it's me, but usually not - it's a shift. So - work hard when you work, don't think about it when you're not working :)

Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345614)

I suggest moving to Canada, joining a union, and working an hourly rate plus overtime. Works quite nicely. :)

Too many IT stereotypes! (2, Insightful)

adosch (1397357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345620)

I don't think IT is any more stressful than any other attention-filled, high demand position in the work field, I think what makes it stressful and piles on the anxiety is what everyone else in the world has to deal with any job: co-worker cooperation (or lack-there-of), difficult boss, tight deadlines, piss-poor-planning, busy streaks in industry or retail, demanding work performance, stupid end-users/consumers, ect. I could go on forever.

Almost every position I've applied for has asked "How do you deal with stress?" because it's something that comes along with any job, not just IT. If you don't have a particular outlet (e.g. break time to take a walk, co-worker to vent to, shruggable conscious, squeeze ball with your co-worker's face on it), then you better get one.

But let's face it, a lot of anxiety and stress can be self-inflicted, too. I've been a Systems Administrator by day profession for quite some time now and I couldn't think of a more fluid position to have to constantly get used to. Every year, I see ton's of "new guys" come in and can't handle it because they are cocky, their resume doesn't match their skillset (e.g. LIED) or just don't have common sense. If you know your job, do it well, can multi-task and prioritize without having someone hold your hand, everything else will fall into place.

Xanax baby!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345654)

Xanax is the key. Bren taking it for years and it is the best drug ever invented. It absolutely crushes anxiety. You simply don't feel it anymore.

5-HTP works (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Showered (1443719) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345668)

I work seven days a week, where I manage about 150+ desktops out in the field, over 150+ email accounts and several dozen mobile phones. I am also hosting high traffic websites. This may not sound like much to many people out there, but I am constantly under pressure and yes, anxiety does kick in.

Even though I work out 3 times a week (strength training) I am still under stress. My social life is a train wreck, where I rather stay in a veg out on the weekends. Mind you, I have friends and plenty of relationships with the opposite sex, but lately it's just too much for me to handle. I come home and the last thing I want to do is talk to another human being.

One thing that helps is 5-HTP. I pop 100mg in the morning and the rest of the day goes by with little worry. Sometimes, I combine it with a bit of melatonin to have a nice deep sleep (with very vivid dreams). I wake up feeling a bit more refreshed, leading to a better day.

Look for a new job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345690)

I once worked at a place where I was the only IT person, on call 24/7. When I took vacation I had to take it at home encase something happened, not that anything would. I was let go from that job due to bad accounting and I was the only person not doing billable work. Got a job at a major university doing tech support for a department, they don't even want to bother me with anything after 4 PM, let alone weekends, holidays, or vacations.

You're not Itesus (1)

bAdministrator (815570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345700)

It's business, you're not supposed to care, but people won't stop you from feeling guilty.
Nobody cares about you getting stressed or losing sleep over some unsolved problem.
If they can make you feel bad without even trying, then they're not going to stop; it's working to their advantage.

You're there because they don't know the quirks of the "let's just ship it" piece of shit software we have to make work or troubleshoot at times.

Also, if they can't afford to pay what it costs to have an IT person, then why give them the advantage over other businesses by working for a substantially lower pay?

Of course, unless you're living at home with your parents, you can't really be that choosey.
That's also the fundamental flaw that keeps certain shitty businesses alive.

Set realistic expectations (1)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345718)

Being able to be frank with, and set realistic expectations for, those you work with and for is crucial.

If your boss wants you to do something on an impossible timeline, tell them you can't. If you've got too much on your plate already, give your boss a list of your current projects, and ask him which one should be de-prioritized to push in the latest "emergency". He may suddenly find it's not so urgent after all, and if it's so important something else does need to be pushed back, it now wasn't your idea.

If you go on vacation, make it clear that you may not be immediately (or at all) able to respond to phone calls or email due to where you're going. Again, put it on your boss—ask who he'd like you to cross train in emergency procedures for your area while you're away, and make sure he knows who your vendor contacts are for troubleshooting. Granted, this should be done well before you go on vacation anyway, but all too often it's not.

If your boss is the type to, at this point, stick his fingers in his ears and yell "LALALALA CAN'T HEAR YOU", it's time to either have a talk with your boss's boss, or polish up your resume. They're not all like this. Most bosses I've worked for are quite reasonable when you're willing to communicate with and listen to them.

endangered species (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345742)

things have gotten pretty reliable. which is good. on the other hand the slow but deliberate drift to software as cloud based service is automating what used to be jobs. stay sedated.

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