After 20 years in Silicon Valley, I’m well acquainted with the ups and down of life in the high-tech world. Silicon Valley is a unique place – home to technology giants like Google, Facebook, Adobe, and Apple, a diverse workforce, and housing shortage that can only be described as insane. And stress. Lots of stress.
For as long as I can remember, technology companies have been luring employees into long hours with over-the-top benefits like on-site car detailing and dry cleaning delivery service. Google is well-known for its restaurant quality cafeterias serving free gourmet meals to its employees. One doesn’t need to leave the office to get errands done, see a doctor, or eat.
Silicon Valley attracts driven, creative, high-achievers. It’s a center of innovation (think iPhones, Pixar movies, and high-tech start-ups). Unfortunately, according to a recent article in Forbes, we are paying the price with our health.
All this computer work creates an extremely unhealthy lifestyle – sedentary, solitary, long hours, stressful deadlines. The office gym isn’t much good if you don’t use it. And the beautiful Bay Area weather doesn’t benefit you if you spend nearly all of it inside (even prisoners get out for an hour a day!).
But engineers aren’t the only ones affected. Pressure to succeed in school and sports has got our kids by the throat, too.
I see the burnt out professionals who need to go on disability leave. And I see the insomnia, anxiety, depression, and heavy drinking in adults and teens alike. Working 60-80 hours per week is never healthy or sustainable. You may not be putting it together that your frequent headaches, eczema or high blood pressure are a result of stress. Stress frequently manifests as physical ailments. Unfortunately, by the time you have physical symptoms, your stress has already reached a critical level.
Work-life balance may seem like an illusion. But little changes can make a big difference.
Small Steps to Combat Silicon Valley Stress include:
- Get some exercise. It doesn’t have to be at the gym. Try taking the stairs or taking a short walk instead of a coffee break.
- Try to get 7 hours of sleep a night.
- Keep alcohol, drugs, and caffeine to a minimum.
- Utilize the wellness program your employer offers.
- Give counseling a try. You don’t have to have a huge problem or mental illness to see a therapist. A lot of people really like coming to talk to a non-judgmental person for support and accountability.
- Use your vacation time.
- Turn off your phone and computer for one hour everyday for quality time with family or friends.
You need to put yourself first. Work and career may be important, but we all know that health is paramount. If you live in Silicon Valley, I invite you to give me a call at 408-982-6535 or join my e-newsletter for free helpful articles and tips.
image credit: jesadaphorn at freedigitalphotos.net