AI: Long Days Journey Into Night edition

Kids, I won’t lie: it’s been a hella busy month.

TAM 7 is next week, along will all sorts of bells and whistles, plus a birthday for me, plus all the non-TAM 7 but need-doing-anyway things.  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, it’s true, but I’m just keeping my head down and getting things done.

I wonder how other people cope, since my skills seem to include consuming too much coffee; ignoring my friends; listening to loud, head-bangy music; picking fights and eating way too much bad-for-you food.  You guys can surely do better.

How do you cope with too much?  Too much stress, too many deadlines, too much to do?  Can you help a sister out with some tips?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.


A B Kovacs is the Director of Døøm at Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company she co-founded with critical thinker and fiction author Scott Sigler. She considers herself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. She's a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. She doesn't like chocolate all that much.

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  1. Get yourself to laugh at things as much as possible. Even when you don’t want to, you’ll be surprised at how well it can work.

    If that doesn’t work, hard liquor will at least go well with “consuming too much coffee; ignoring my friends; listening to loud, head-bangy music; picking fights and eating way too much bad-for-you food.”

  2. Have the 2nd the bad for you food, the booze, and the laughter.

    Add in a bit of sex and a mandatory 5 mins of sudoku a day and there you go.

    Really though? Realize that sometimes you can’t do it all… and figure out which bits will make you the most happy.

  3. Like @Kaylia_Marie said, figure out which things you actually can accomplish… blame anything you can’t finish on Moose.

    And sometimes, you just need a drink at 10am to help you through it all… but stop at one. Otherwise you’re not helping anyone but yourself.

  4. Unhealthy? Drinking, definitely. It definitely takes the edge off of anxiety and makes one feel more relaxed and carefree.

    Healther is to take some time, a day is best, but a few hours helps, to remove yourself from the hecticness of the everyday.

    Do something that is *extremely* relaxing for you, whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk in a quiet nature/part area, taking a bubble bath, having a nice meal, listening to your favorite album, getting a massage/manicure/pedicure etc.

    Hell, even taking a nap could help.

    Unplug the iphone, turn off the cell, and just tune out for a bit. It may help recharge your batteries.

  5. I vent on my livejournal, read a lot, and basically just fight through whatever stress I’m going through, and then once it’s over, I finally realize I’ve been stressed and then I crash.

  6. Oh and I smoke waaaay more sticky green when I’m upset/stressed/whatever.

    I tend to drink LESS alcohol, because everything effects my stomach, and alcohol just makes it worse.

  7. @Elyse: Alcohol just makes me feel worse if I’m stressed or otherwise not feeling well. It also makes me sleepy during the day, and I feel like arse once it wears off.

    So I’ll change that to: Sometimes one needs a hit or two off the pipe to help you through it all … but stop at two so you don’t get quite as easily distracted by shiny things.

  8. And by pipe, I do not mean crack, thank you very much!

    Also, xanax. If I’m REALLY having a hard time sleeping (or rather, staying asleep), a friend of mine will give me a few xanaxes and it’s like a fucking revelation. I sleep through the night and feel much better because of it.

  9. Two things work best for me:

    Make a list of priorities and accept there are things near the end of the list that won’t get done.

    Plan something very fun for after the deadline preferably involving sex, alcohol, and relaxation (and accept that relaxation may not get done).

  10. This is also why working on a thesis sucks so very badly. They are never finished and everything that might make the process more endurable makes them take even longer.

  11. I have two suggestions:

    1. Don’t try to do everything. Prioritize and re-prioritize. I find that I put stuff on my list that often can really wait until a little later, be delegated out or simply be pushed off the list altogether.

    2. Drink … WATER. I’m a junk eater when I’m stressed but I try as much as I can to drink lots of water. If nothing else, it forces you to get up and go to the bathroom and give yourself a 2 minute break periodically :) It sounds silly but it works!

    Hang in there. :)

  12. I usually handle it by freaking out and slowly becoming less and less capable of cognition, until I can no longer make a firm decision and can be reduced to an anxiety attack by any further complexity.

    Not sure that’s the best way to tackle the issue, though :-P

    In all honesty, sometimes it really does help to have a cry. I seem to remember reading a study about how tears shed during emotional turmoil aren’t just a bit of salt and water, but rather contain a greater percentage of hormones. We often feel better after crying and it may well be that this is because the tears are actually REMOVING stress hormones from our bodies! BIOLOGY IS CRAZY!

  13. Find a friend, and rant. Just say/scream/yell/astral project whatever comes to mind first. You know that brain-mouth door? Open it, and yank out the knob. Let your blood pressure skyrocket.

    Usually, when I get into my rant, I hunch over like a neanderthal and look out of the tops of my eyes. This is important, because I usually have good posture. Also, I usually talk with my hands, but when I go into one of my random rants, please, stand back at least twenty feet, and wear a helmet. My hands go EVERYWHERE.

    Finally, go plop down in a bing. comfy chair, and calm down.

    On your way home, swing by your preferred general merchandise store (GO WALMART), and pick up some calgone.

  14. @Expatria: Really? must google that…

    I just got a book called “Thumbs, Toes, and Tears and other traits that make us human” and it is next on my list of things to read… I wonder if it will talk about this as well.

    I have always wondered why humans cry, what evolutionary pressure led us to this, what happens when people don’t or can’t….

    /runs off on rant…

  15. @Expatria: “In all honesty, sometimes it really does help to have a cry.”@

    infinitemonkey: “Just say/scream/yell/astral project whatever comes to mind first. ”

    I must be wired completely differently. Either one of these activities just lead to a death-spiral for me. Crying/yelling just makes me want to do more crying/yelling. And when I finish, if I finish, my head is in no good space for further work. Crying/yelling afterward a deadline can be cathartic, but by then the urge has usually passed.

  16. Knit!!!
    It takes enough mental effort to take your mind off things…but not enough to add to exhaustion or stress.
    plus…you get a nice scarf too! Bonus!

  17. Now this is something I have a lot of experience with.

    Make sure you eat food, no matter how busy you are. If you know you’ve got a lot to do in a day, don’t skip breakfast.

    I find I’m more efficient if I eat regularly. When I’m hungry (even if I don’t feel really hungry) I get tired and discouraged. I’ll stare at what I need to do, thinking about it and not doing it.

    @Elyse: Drinking is good, but save it as something to reward yourself with. Be careful though, I find I sleep a lot harder with even one beer in me, so don’t do it if you’re planning to get up early the next day.

    @tiger kitty: Ew, diet coke. The point stands though. In times of stress caffeine is your most helpful friend.

  18. @mrthumbtack: Yeah, when I get stressed, I usually end up trying to overwork, and thusly exhausting myself. I do hit the coffee-and I mean that literally. I knock back cups like shots. But, I figured I was just a little weird, since caffine can make you jittery.

  19. I cry if I’m feeling reallllly pissed off, but that’s about it.

    I take long, hot baths with a good book if I just need to relax.

    Books kept me sane during Kindergarten until 8th grade, where I went to a tiny little school and was heavily bullied. In high school, hiding in the bathroom for an hour or two with a good book was the only time I could be alone and destress.

    Reading still destresses me. I like to read during my lunch because it seems to reboot my brain, no matter how involved in the story I get. Escaping into another world makes the real world seem less crazy.

  20. I’m a rather disorganised individual, and I usually really thrive in chaos; so much that I generally do my best work when I’m trying to do 3/4 things at once because I’ve got good momentum going. but when I have too many deadlines coming at the same time, and think there’s too much on my plate for one human being to manage, I write everything I need to do down. Suddenly it doesnt seem like such a lot anymore and I can get back to my chaos, periodically crossing things off my list :)

  21. @Kaylia_Marie:

    When things get really, really overwhelming, I talk incessantly about my penis. About its hopes, its fears, its favorite meals, its most embarrassing memories… about that time it popped out “accidentally” at the water park… and, mostly, about the long nights my penis and I used to spend talking, laughing, back when we hadn’t a care in the world.


  22. So many good posts lately but things have been crazy:

    1. I read Skepchick. Yeah, doesn’t really work if Skepchick is part of your responsibilities. However, like Elyse’s AI so clearly demonstrated, this board is full of intelligent & naughty people whose vice’s run on a similar path as my own. Booze, boobs, and sarcasm help A LOT. I also like some of the Antarctica boards/blogs. An interesting group of people…

    2. A good cry in the shower.

    3. Sometimes when I’m making a long list, I will write down a task or two that I just finished (within the past 1-24 hours). Seeing an item or two already crossed off a long list makes it less daunting.

    4. Ritalin. So not kidding.

    5. After years of living for other people and throwing everything into this idea of a perfect home and family, I gave it up. I take it all for what it is. Having tea parties with stuffed bunnies or wearing high heels out to the pub…those are the memories what I want to keep. I don’t give a rat’s ass (sorry to the rat lovers, no disrespect intended) if I ever fold another piece of laundry.

    Oh and to summarize any posts I missed commenting on:
    1. you all rock.
    2. all booze kick’s ass but I’m a Lagavulin girl. Microbrew beer is a close second.
    3. Boobs, penis. Yes.
    5. Can’t even comment on the kids-abuse post without going livid.

  23. @Ashley.Ele: “when I’m making a long list, I will write down a task or two that I just finished”

    I do this too!!!!

    Things like : “make list” and “brush teeth” can get crssed off super fast making me feel all acomplished….

  24. I play video games. Specifically, violent video games. The kind that should make me want to go on a killing spree, but instead are somehow cathartic to me. Team Fortress 2 is my current mind poison of choice.

  25. @marilove: “Orgasms are pretty much well known to be cure for stress, even if it’s only temporary.”

    Sometimes. A quote from a thankfully distant ex-wife, “Oh, God. Oh, God! Oh, God!! Oh,… did you remember to clean out the gutters?” (droop)

  26. Prioritize to keep yourself from running around. (Or even feeling like it.)
    Have a Quittin’ Time each day. After Quittin’ Time, whatever time is left in the day is MINE.
    Put a reward at the end of the list. Make it nice, make it fun, and just let it happen when you get to it.

  27. @Kaylia_Marie: “Is “gutter cleaning” new sex slang I just haven’t been taught yet?”

    Oh, if only she’d been that kinky.

    I like the idea though. “Hey, baby. I can prune your hedges, paint your trim, clean your gutters, and if you ask really nice, I might even rototill your garden.”

    Oh, yes. Take me. Take me now.

  28. I suppose it depends on the situation, but I find exercise, like going for a jog or playing tennis with friends, goes a whole long way to reducing stress or anxiety.

    I can testify to this working really well before tests.

    Physiologically, one of my biology teachers told me it helps get rid of adrenaline and other hormones that produce the various nasty mental states associated with stress. This makes sense, since evolutionarily when we’re in a stressful situation, it’s when we need to run away from a predator or fight, which are both types of exercise.

    Other than that (and I know I might be unique in this regard): I essentially make a game out of doing work, thinking how I can organize it as efficiently as possible. Helps keep me interested and not focus on worrying about how much I have to do.

  29. Cooking. I’m not sure why but chopping vegetables or kneading bread just calms me right down.
    Swimming. Sit in the sauna for ten minutes, work up a sweat, and then leap into the pool for ten lengths of breaststroke. Aaah. Cycling is good too when I can’t get to the pool, but nothing eases stress like being able to float.
    Chocolate. ’nuff said.

  30. I used to stress over life until 2 very big things happened to me. First I grew up and became over 40. After 40 you dont sweat the small stuff and you care less what people thing, for real care less, not just wish you did. Then I had two kids in 18 months after 40. Having children really does put thing sinto perspective for a person. Especially older people. We have to conserve energy and time so we learn to say “no”, become time management gurus and onces again, let the rough end drag. When you have a few more birthdays and a couple of screaming babies and a husband in grad school you learn to get over it. Then you learn the sweet joy of naps.

  31. I used to own a giant inflatable alien that I would whack things with when stressed. I don’t know what happened to it – I think it got lost in a move a few years ago.

    Other than that, I second the booze, sex, and lists posts. Any combination of the three should help.

  32. Definitely lists with priority levels for the items on the lists, ’cause some items aren’t gonna get done, so you want them to be lower priority.

  33. @Sam Ogden: COTW (Hic!)
    My less-than-helpful techniques: snacking, reading, channel surfing, net surfing, blog surfing, insomnia, caffeine, staring blankly at a screen.

    More helpful, well at a particularly stressful time of my life I divided everything into two categories:

    1. Stuff that had to be done right then,


    2. Bullshit.

    It’s *amazing* what falls into category 2.

  34. My advice probably doesn’t help anyone but me. But here it is anyway. Whenever i start to get overwhelmed or stressed out, i just imagine what the absolute worst case scenario is. Then I think about that worst case scenario and see if it’s really all that bad. Usually i find that while it sucks it’s not really THAT bad.

    Of course, usually my thinking is “worst case scenario is that i die…and then i don’t have anything to worry about!”

  35. Ok, so these suggestions are great, and some I will try to take to heart if I have a spare moment.

    However, this: @Ashley.Ele:
    Oh and to summarize any posts I missed commenting on:
    1. you all rock.
    2. all booze kick’s ass but I’m a Lagavulin girl. Microbrew beer is a close second.
    3. Boobs, penis. Yes.
    5. Can’t even comment on the kids-abuse post without going livid.

    … made me laugh so hard I cried. Such a perfect, perfect list:

    Item one: I’m all-in with that.
    Item two: so, so close to me, but I’m a Talisker girl.
    Item three: HA!
    *Item four has said SCREW YOU GUYS, I’M GOING HOME!*
    Item five: totally unrelated and totally agree.

    COTW. Or, more accurately, COTMFW.

    Back to work for A. No rest for the wicked. Thanks for the birthday good cheer and see you all in July.

  36. two things are helpful when I start to get really frazzled.

    -giving up and taking a nap
    -ice cream

    Oh, maybe three things.


    Basically, the harder I push myself once I get stressed out, the less I accomplish. Sitting down to prioritize my list, decide what not to do, and then catching up on sleep/relaxing makes me more productive later.

  37. OMfsm, so much sexual innuendo so early in the morning… Good thing I got my garden harvested last night!

    There is, though, a quote from the Dalai Lama that I like very much: “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
    It kind of seems like it’s over-simplifying, but it makes sense to me. If you can fix it, fix it. If not, move on.
    I’m not saying I follow the advice, of course, I’m just saying I like it.

    Also, “Needless panic and worry serve absolutely no purpose except to cause unnecessary hardship and pain.” – Charmed TV series :-)

  38. @Everyone Suddenly having a MR. Garrison moment: Her breasts were soft and supple like a hard penis…

    Also previously mentioned stress relievers that I enjoy is exercise (I run, fuck jogging) and Video Games (WoW, Fallout 3, TF2 – at some point I’d like to add CoD4 and Left4Dead but I haven’t the cash at this time, gotta save up for the release of Beyond Good and Evil 2). I’ll also veg out and just read stuff or watch random crap on hulu or my various video podcasts I seem to yet again be falling behind on.

  39. @killyosaur42:
    You screw while jogging? That’s coordination! Now if only you could teach how to screw while cleaning out the gutters.

  40. @a.real.girl:

    Ha! Can you tell I’m in the middle of selling my house and moving, chasing a 3 year old, working over 40 hours a week, negotiating a difficult divorce with a mentally ill ex, and a myriad of other things?

    Who needs grammar or well-numbered lists? I’ve got scotch and genitals.

    I remember sleep and sex… don’t know which one I miss more.

  41. Dear Readers,

    We have arrested, indicted, tried and convicted Jen for missing today’s quickies. She has shown remorse and will be paying restitution, in the form of Quickies, to the Skepchick community shortly.

    We appreciate your support during this difficult time.



  42. “consuming too much coffee; ignoring my friends; listening to loud, head-bangy music; picking fights and eating way too much bad-for-you food.”

    that’s pretty much how i cope myself. until my dr. told me to cut waaaaaay back on the sugar on days i had too much to get done at work my breakfast consisted of at least one mountain dew and a snickers bar. apply headphones and que up the head-bangy music. then another mtn. dew to get me to lunch and sometimes lunch was a mtn. dew and doritos and a snickers bar. dinner was happy hour beer and bar appetizers. sometimes i’m amazed i’m still alive and not 300 lbs.

    i don’t think i’ve been very helpful.

  43. I think between the new Fuck Jogging (which sounds like it really ought to be a contact sport) and Getting One’s Gutter’s Cleaned (which sounds like it would be safer if you had a spotter), I think our little community here has made great strides for the world.

    Who needs either Michael really?

  44. I usually overcompensate. I try to get it all done and make it all better. At some point I break down and go to a corner and cry and think I’m a loser for not getting everything done. From there I slip into a catatonic state. Eventually I am able to rouse myself long enough to drink myself back into a stupor.

  45. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): And what’s wrong with ogres? I bet there are a couple very hot but scary females in tall boots and bustiers that would call that ogreist.

    @ all 3
    Ha! You guys are like chicken soup for stress in of yourselves.

    Hey tiger kitty, you gonna join the legions of undead on facebook or not? Braaaiiinnnssss…

  46. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): Pelt-y? Fantastic adjective. Heh, I was horrified the day my father announced that he had discovered nair and it changed his life. Somehow my father going hairless was just toooo wrong to comprehend.

    Btw, what’s you fb link if you don’t mind me asking. You’ve got a wicked sense of humor.

  47. @Kaylia_Marie: Fuck Jogging reminds me of a discussion in the letters to Playboy a number of years back about the unit of measure called the fuck-foot. You determine how many inches of movement are involved in each stroke, multiply by the number of strokes in a given encounter, and divide by 12 to determine how many fuck-feet you’ve gone. One correspondent claimed to have almost reached Mexico (I can’t recall where they were writing from).

  48. For indoor use, they have just developed a fuckjogger machine to replace the treadmill. I saw an infomercial with I think vince the shamwow guy. Get one for the bedroom, the kitchen, 1 for the bathroom… the new wambamWOW!

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