Riding the stress coaster

Published 11:14 pm Friday, July 29, 2011

If I could describe my job on the Suffolk News-Herald design desk to anyone, I might have to say it’s like riding a roller coaster.

There’s the moment as you’re going up the first hill, when you can feel the excitement building and you’re looking forward to the ride.

Then there’s the first drop, the one that happens so fast that your stomach feels like it’s in your throat and you immediately regret ever getting on the ride.

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Then, sometimes the ride smoothes out and becomes enjoyable; sometimes it’s so jerky you hurt your neck and vow never to ride a contraption with a name like “Loch Ness Monster” again.

But, just like going back to work every day, I always ride the Loch Ness whenever I visit Busch Gardens. And just like Busch Gardens, I often have days where I wish I had never bought a ticket to this particular theme park called the Suffolk News-Herald.

Don’t get me wrong. This profession has its rewards. Like being able to discover some of the best local eateries while on the job.

But sometimes there are bad days, and those bad days have been known to lengthen into bad weeks. And then the other shoe drops.

I suppose it’s just a part of working in a business driven by deadlines and thinning budgets, where when something goes wrong, you have to be able to correct it at a moment’s notice or risk blowing down the whole house of cards.

As last week stretched on and more deadlines filled our calendar, the design desk had a few ways to cope. We cracked jokes and laughed. We quietly repeated a few mantras, such as “Serenity now! Serenity now!”

But the best way to get over the stresses of the day (or week) always seem to be through food. We popped bacon-flavored popcorn. We ordered pizza and Chinese food. We gorged on Pez candy. And I, thanks to a birthday gift from a coworker, ate four Zero candy bars in four days.

But it can’t just be newspaper designers and reporters who grapple with daily stresses. With the summer heat wave in full swing and budget crises popping up left and right, we all need a little stress relief.

You can say a mantra or a prayer. You can even attempt to alleviate the situation with humor. But I humbly recommend that you also give yourself permission to splurge on something delicious every once and a while.

Suffolk is filled hidden gems ready to offer you stress-relieving good eats. And your business could help local restaurant owners feeling the pinch of fewer patrons and rising costs. So you’ll help lower their stress levels while dealing with your own.