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Time Management for System Administrators by Thomas A. Limoncelli

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Chapter 9. Stress Management

Stressed? Of course you are! You're a system administrator!

I'm not a doctor, and I'm not an expert on stress, but I will share with you what little I've learned over the years. I'm quite a stress puppy—ask anyone I've worked with. However, I think I manage it better than I used to.

This chapter is about some common sources of stress and what to do about them, some advice about vacation time, and a little story about how I learned to relax. It is advice that I've found myself giving time and time again, sometimes when lecturing on the road or when socializing with fellow system administrators or coworkers. A lot of this is more philosophy than science. It is not a complete or scholarly discourse on the subject, but it should give you some useful advice and point you in the right direction to find more information.

Stress is the wear and tear that our bodies and minds feel when things change. There is positive stress and negative stress. Positive stress adds anticipation and excitement to our lives, helps us be creative, helps us win a race or an election, or pushes us beyond what we previously thought were our limits. Negative stress is destructive. It causes heart disease, depression, and gray hairs. Managing stress is a big part of maintaining good mental health.

Oddly enough, the same situation can be positive stress for one person and negative stress for another. It's all about how we deal with it. For example, people have different reactions to compliments ...

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