Stress Relief: Laugh Out Loud Humour

After a stressful day, if you don’t release that stress it will eat you alive – and there’s more truth than analogy in that statement.

The best humour is doesn’t make you smile – or chuckle – but rather laugh out loud funny. The ideal is humour that makes you laugh uncontrollably. Humour can be serious business, especially as a stress relief.

Humour is, indeed, a very personal thing: what makes some people laugh others will find offensive. After a recent particularly stressful and late night, I found myself wandering through YouTube for my favorite comics. Unfortunately, famous or not, some will be found more often than others.

My favorite comics are these:

  • Bob Newhart
  • George Carlin
  • Bill Cosby
  • Sam Kinison
  • Robin Williams

Personally, I think George Carlin is a comic genius. One thing that I note of virtually every comic listed there: they can take the most mundane things and find the hilarity (I remember George talking about getting milk from the refridgerator!).

Teasers from George Carlin:

  • About “non-stop flights”: “I insist that my flights stop – preferably at an airport!
  • “Of course [the program] was “prerecorded”! When else you going to record it – afterwards?

Refresh yourself!

System administration can be a very stressful position. When systems go down, and CEOs and other executives start leaning over your shoulder, or a system fails and you suddenly (and temporarily) become one of the most sought-after people in the company – the stress is immense and undeniable.

Even if you release your stress by doing what I do – administering your systems instead of someone else’s – it is even better to give up the computer, give up the Internet, and find something radically different to do – something which requires a different set of skills and thought processes.

In my case, when I do this, one thing I might do is to pick up a camera. Currently I am using a Pentax PZ10 (film) but I hope to augment it with a Pentax digital SLR sometime in the future. (Yes, I know Canon is great – and so is Nikon – but they won’t fit my Pentax lenses…)

Another thing I do is attend my favorite conferences. The biggest conference I like to attend is happening this week (aviators already know which one!) – Airventure. To us in the neighborhood of this world-wide gathering of aviators, we just call it “Oshkosh” (Airventure is located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin) or “EAA” (the Experimental Aircraft Association, or EAA, are the sponsors and conference operators).

Events and hobbies like these force you to use other skills, and other thought patterns – relieving stress and perhaps even lengthening your life. Stress is a killer, and learning new things is thought to lead to a longer life as well.

Stress relief for System Administrators

Who, me, stress?  Nah….. sysadmins never have any stress, right?

Well, just in case you do – my feelings are that laughter is the best medicine – and I mean laugh out loud funny.  So what do you do?

There are a lot of ways to tickle the funny bone, and they’re personal as well.  Here are several that I use:

  • Subscribe to RSS feeds like Sharky’s Column and The Daily WTF.
  • Favorite comics (for me, that means: Liberty Meadows, Calvin and Hobbes, and Get Fuzzy)
  • Personal copies of laugh out loud funny comics
  • Funny movies

If you can indulge in some of these away from the office, it is much better.  Fresh air is good, too – as is doing something totally unrelated to work (even if it is other work).

Burn-out is a real danger to system administrators; so get away from the tension and away from the office!