Expert say on everyday issues

If you don’t mind, take a moment and answer the following few questions.

  • Are you feeling a little stressed lately?
  • Are you taking your job troubles home with you?
  • Don’t have enough time to spend with the family?
  • Trouble sleeping at night?
  • When you do sleep, are you woken by nightmares of irrigation blowups and runaway thatch diseases?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions, you must be a golf course superintendent, and it must be summer.

Regardless of where you live, summer is no doubt the most stressful season of the year for most superintendents.

Although a certain amount of stress is normal and part of everyday life, too much stress can cause significant and dangerous problems – heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, an irregular heartbeat, fatigue and even obesity, just to name a few.

And not only do you have to try and manage your own stress, but your turfgrass is no doubt stressed as well, which, of course, adds to your stress.

For your turf the list is seemingly endless: high temperatures, high rounds, compaction, localized dry spots, heights too low, thatch diseases.

For you this list is also seemingly endless: trying to stay on budget, dealing with the stress of your boss, the stress of your workers, course conditions, golfer demands, Mother Nature, stricter government regulations. And this is just the stress you get from your job!

Oddly, taking time off from work may not ease your stress at all. A recent study by Penn State researchers indicated that a majority of people in the 122-person survey actually felt more stress while at home (higher cortisol levels) than they did at work.

This might be especially true for golf course superintendents in the summer, when they’re the busiest. I know if I take any significant time off during the summer I’m constantly worrying about the course and what is happening in my absence. This is not an indication of the people I have in place, but simply my inability to distance myself from the operation.

So if staying away from work for an extended period is not the answer, what can we do to ease the stress levels a bit during this summer season?

Stress busters

Here are five slightly unconventional ideas that may drop those cortisol levels just enough to get you through to winter in one piece, and maybe help you keep your sanity:

1. Procrastinate

– OK, I admit this one might be hard, especially for a list-maker like myself, but I think there’s some merit to it. Make a list of the things you need to do (or think you need to do) and then don’t do them. Instead, do something you really want to do, not something you need to do. Procrastination may allow you to let go of things and relax a bit.

2. Play

– Am I the only one who really misses recess? Just think if it was part of our everyday work schedule. How’s this for a normal summer day? Check overnight irrigation. Staff meeting. Scout disease. Play four square. Lunch. Invoice. Write newsletter. Game of dodgeball. Order safety supplies. Schedule irrigation.

3. Lower your caffeine intake

– Caffeine gives you that false sense of urgency. You think it’s helping, but it’s really not. Lowering this, even from three cups to two, can go a long way in improving your overall health, both physically and mentally.

4. Stretch

– Although I haven’t gone full-out yoga, I have found the wondrous benefits of stretching your body in the morning. A little reaching, bending, twisting. My favorite new thing (which I have to do at home on the carpet) is the superman. Have you tried this? Lie on your stomach and reach one arm out like you’re flying and also raise the opposite leg. And, of course, stretch. It’s amazingly relaxing.

5. Limit multitasking

– This one is really hard for a superintendent, I know, but you have to try. Focus on a single, specific task at a time. Take your time. Aim for quality. The key here is delegation. Lighten your load. Give those tasks and jobs you’ve been reluctant to hand out to people on your crew. No doubt you’ve hired quality people. Use them. Let them help you.

You have to find a way to ease stress, and you have to find a way to do it that works for you. My five methods may be entirely different from yours, which is fine. As long as it works for you, it works.

Prevent burnout with these tips.