It is a sad state of affairs in this modern world that so many people suffer from mental health problems. In the western world, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, with anxiety and depression being the most common mental disorder. Women are more likely to have been treated for mental health problems than men, though men are three times more likely to commit suicide. About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time and depression affects 1 in 5 older people.

It should come as no surprise that work related stress is one of the greatest causes of mental health issues, so how should one go about protecting oneself by creating an antidote to the stresses of an ever increasingly hostile work environment and hence retain at least a modicum of sanity.

Author: Bryan Helfrich, Alias52; via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 license

I accept that there are some obvious ways to help keep ones sanity with non-work related activities such as sport, meditation and regular holidays but many of these are short lived, as just opening one’s inbox on return from vacation can in about 10 minutes negate 2 weeks of lying by the water in Phuket being massaged by a Thai girl who understands that “boy wins girl” is not the only thing meant by a happy ending.

I have found over the last 40 years of working in the IT sector that retaining ones sanity at work requires much more dramatic remedial measures than sporting activities, and I have therefore developed the following short list of crucial ways of retaining one’s marbles while still making a worthwhile business contribution.


Author: Awersowy; via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 license

One of the worst stress creators in the workplace is caused by having to spend an inordinate amount of time locked in a room with a large group of people who all know that any simple problem can be made insoluble if enough meetings are held to discuss it. The stress of having to come up with even a minor contribution, or to feign interest in yet another attempt to pretend that something will actually be achieved, puts massive strain on all vital organs. The best approach is to find an understanding member of the medical profession who will be prepared to diagnose you as suffering from Demophobia, Enochlophobia, and Ochlophobia which are all forms of phobia related to the fear of mobs or crowds. This will accord you the right to miss all meetings, and instead to stay in your cubicle and build your personal mental health store by doing something that actually delivers some value to the organisation. It is therefore critically important that you remember that “Rome did not conquer the known world by having meetings. They achieved this by destroying anyone who opposed them”.


People who regularly annoy you are a major threat to your mental health and must be annihilated as part of your personal drive to retain sanity in the workplace. Whilst actually killing them is illegal, the next best solution is to get rid of them from your daily life by continually telling them that they are much too good for the job that they are doing and that the company does not value their contribution whilst sending their CVs to competitors and head-hunters. Competing companies love stealing from each other, as this is one of the major metrics in their management dashboards, and you should use this knowledge to your advantage by being an enabler to their love of churn. Remember that one of the laws of life is that “if you do a good job and work hard, someday you may get a job with a better company.”


Take at least one week of your annual leave in Haiti and get to know some practitioners of the black art of Voodoo, always taking with you a selection of bodily detritus (hair, used tissues, discarded Birkenstocks etc.,) of all your business contacts and associates, as you can never tell who is going to annoy you in the coming 12 months. This will enable you to come home from a satisfying vacation with the knowledge that you can handle any eventuality of mental health threat with a suitable counter. Remember the maxim that you should “keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your voodoo dolls in a locked drawer in your office desk”.

Author:; via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 license


It is important to make up for all the sleep that you are missing out on during the nights, because of the stresses of the job, by sleeping at the office. You should not overdo this and must limit these “power naps” to just 15-20 minutes every hour. It is also critical that you do not snore during these restorative sessions as this will make people aware of the fact that you are only pretending to be totally engrossed in reading the corporate strategy document, so you must take heavy doses of sleep apnea medication. You can manage the side effects of chronic diarrhoea by ensuring that your cubicle is close to the restrooms. Just remember that if you get caught sleeping on the job by your boss you should say “I wasn’t sleeping! I was meditating on your mission statement and envisioning a whole new cloud paradigm.”

Author: SanGatiche; via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 license

As Mark Twain said “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”


15 Responses to HOW TO STAY SANE AT WORK

  1. Suchitra says:

    Workplaces are getting hostile, which leads to unwanted stress !! Totally subscribe to these above points !! when I say the same thing, people think I’m insane, good to know Mr. Hayman has similar thoughts 🙂

  2. Great stuff! Now excuse me, I have a nap scheduled.

  3. Vicky says:

    Brilliant, as ever, Les. In a role I had years ago I did once ‘mention’ our (useless) Sales Director to a headhunter and bigged him up in the hope it would result in him moving. Unfortunately, he knew he was onto a good thing and could get away with murder (or at least contributing nothing and just polishing his shoes), so my action made him even worse……we turned him from a lazy ‘bleep’ into an egotistical lazy ‘bleep’!

    • leshayman says:

      Vicky, you should have just reverted to the voodoo doll approach. I have found that the pins don’t work on their own, but if you leave a voodoo doll that is fully pinned, together with a dead chicken, on the desk of the person targetted, it sure scares the hell out of them and if done regularly could drive them away. Les

  4. John Du Bois says:

    Having just concluded a powernap, its true workplaces have become more hostile and some of those who are insecure, have aligned themselves with known enemies, forgetting or not realising, that when you cross the line its more difficult to turn back…… and ask for help.

  5. Stuart bell says:

    OMG, how true ths is.i once worked at a company that forced meeting organizers to record the total cost per hour for meetings and they had to produce a net gain! You soon found out it was both OK to say no and not go to meetings some people organized! Love the annual Hiatus

  6. Massimo says:

    Some time ago I used to get into some fierce argumentations or likewise disappearing and not attending meeting that had no value. This worked well when the people to single out where not too many. However in other circumstances you feel surrounded and as a former partner at Bain once told me “you can blow off one idiot or two but not the whole company” with that in mind I think an assessment needs to be done before engaging destructive activities as in the process you may find your enemy is not alone…

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