Check Your Stress At The Door

teacherWashing my hands in the company washroom the other day, I was listening to two women talk about the most over-used word/topic I’ve heard lately — stress. They were talking about being “stressed” at their job. Fortunately, they parted on a laugh and a “tomorrow’s another day.”

These days everyone is “stressed.”

It’s your job — you are expected to do everything while someone else does nothing. It’s your kids — once out of sight, you have no idea what trouble they’re getting into. It’s your family — your brother/mother/sister/grandmother is out of control again (probably the me-me-me thing). It’s your health — cholesterol is off the charts, need to lose at least 15 pounds.  It’s your age — I’m too old to do this, I’m not old enough to do that. It’s everything around us. Everything inside of us. It’s as common as salt on French fries.

Were human beings always this messed up?

I admit I am one of the first in line to succumb to this dreaded disease. I’m older, I’m heavier, I’m poorer than I was 20 years ago. I have a hard time sitting still staring at a computer screen all day. I have lost a couple of loved ones recently which broke my heart. I have had other close ones have surgery, lose their jobs, crash their SUV. I get tired of everyone else stirring up hornet’s nests and not doing a thing about it. It’s a mess out there.

How did we get this way?

Life has always been life. Kids have always been a handful, family members too. Jobs have been hard, paychecks small. People we know have been dying since we were little. People have never had enough free time, and appliances and cars have always fallen apart at the same time. But our lives have balanced out, too (at least most of the time). We love our family. We have a job. We can afford cable. We can walk through parks and snowbanks and feel the sun on our face and play in the rain. We have quit smoking or picked up a hobby or made new friends. Yet these positive things still don’t make a dent in our over-reacting to the world.

Were our parents this wound up all the time? Our grandparents?

I am not making light of stress…on the contrary, I’m worried about it. Talking to others, there is not enough time in the day (or night) to do what we need to do. No less what we want to do. Companies are downsizing, so a lot of us are doing the job of two or three people. The cost of gas and food is rising a whole lot faster than our yearly cost-of-living raise (if we get one). The cost of healthcare in one form or another is out of control, as one visit to the doctor’s office can cost us a week’s pay. We are paying for car repairs and mortgages and fixing aging appliances and paying doctor bills all from the same paycheck.

No wonder we are stressed.

I worry about this because, the older I get, the less roses I get to smell. I have at least another 20 years of spoiling my grandbaby and trying to grow a garden and I still want to go to Ireland and Italy. And every ounce of stress — I mean the really mean stress — takes me one step backwards from where I want to go.

We can’t get back yesterday, but we can work on getting to the future.  And to get there we have to get rid of this over-used condition. And the catch is, we can’t get “stressed” about it, either. How do we do such a monumental turnabout? Here are my simple ideas.

* Get a whiff of fresh air every day. No matter if it’s frigid, humid, scorching, or grey as flannel. Get out and inhale, deep and long, every day.

* Talk to someone you love every day. Not just like trains passing in the night — like real people. Ask them how they’re feeling. What made them laugh today. That you’re glad they’re in your life.

*Remember that, for most of us, a job is just a means to an end. Some of us enjoy our jobs, some of us don’t. Some of us will make a career out of our choices, some of will just make it a job. Don’t get involved in scenarios you can’t change. Some things are just above your pay grade. Do you best but don’t bring it home with you. It’s just not worth it.

* There will never be another you. Savor that fact. Learn to hone that self into one that rolls with the punches. You have to. You can’t stop the river flowing, you can’t walk to the moon, etc., etc., etc. Be true to yourself, and flourish within that light.

* Make time for the little things. Watch the sunset, play fetch with your dog. Watch an old movie. Know that the little pleasures are all that matter — that sometimes that’s all you’ll get. And mountains can be made out of those molehills.

We can’t really wash all the stress out of the world. But I truly believe that if we all make an effort we can make it less of a stain and more of a blush. Deal with what you can, let go of the rest.

Your heart, your blood pressure, will thank you.

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13 thoughts on “Check Your Stress At The Door

  1. With the abundance of information, our world has grown immensely, compared to twenty, even ten years ago. And we love to stay in touch, to be connected. But that has a downside as well. There are too many incentives, and we get kind of addicted.
    So yes, your ideas are very important, I love them and try to live by them. And I want you to those roses again *hugs*

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  2. I relate so much to this post. We are bombarded with information from every direction: TV, social media, the radio and our brains are overwhelmed with data (some of it utterly useless).
    Thanks, Claudia, for the reminder that little things matter 🙂

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    1. I know we know this, but we get so busy we put it on the bottom of the pile of important things. The world loves to do its best to take us over…we just have to break the rules and let go now and then…more often than not.

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  3. I agree with both you, Claudia, and Carrie. As of today, I’m going to slow my life down a bit. And, I’m going to call someone special today, too. Thanks.

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  4. Took me a long, long time to ease up on the stress I was ingesting. I’ve had to talk to myself a lot. Still do. All of it positive. I have tried very hard to put up a meditative barrier between me and negativity. Obviously I slip, but I try to get right back at it. I too would like to enjoy the next 20 or so years of my life. You might say I’m in the 4th inning. I’d like to hit…a home run. 🙂

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    1. I am happy to hear that, huggy. And most times the only one who can release the stress is ourselves. We feel we have to carry our angst everywhere. And all that stress about things out of our control is such a waste of energy.

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  5. I think one of the things that’s contributing to our increased stress is that many of us are unable to disconnect. We’re always checking our social media sites, our text messages, our emails, our jobs. That last one is particularly problematic because now with so much of our work accessible from home on our computers, we never really ‘leave’ the office. It’s important that we allow ourselves downtime every day, time with nothing other than a book in our hands, a conversation with a friend or family member, or a favorite TV show to entertain us.

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