Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SAA Meeting Notes

Stress-Avoiders Anonymous Chapter Leader: Today we're welcoming a new member to our circle. Care to introduce yourself?
Me: Hi, my name is Erica. I've been out of college for a year and a half, (pause, gulp) and I no longer know how to deal with prolonged stress. (sigh of relief)
All: (sympathetically) Hi, Erica.

I don't know how it's come to this. I've spent my entire life being driven and thus busy. I studied my derriere off in high school, participating in choirs, dramatic productions, clubs, and student government while maintaining a social life with friends who were usually a 20-minute drive away. I studied through college with a high-GPA-requiring scholarship, worked to pay for social, collegiate, and transportation costs throughout, took full class loads every single semester, and managed to participate in a few clubs and productions there, too.

I spend 18 months out of school, away from the bulk of my friends, and working just one 40-hour-a-week job and spending most of my time at home with my husband and I'm crying NO MAS after just one month of work stress. Seriously?

I had a similar experience with sleep schedules in college. I spent 3/4 of high school living on 4-6 hours of sleep. I was tired all the time, but I got everything done, so I thought it was fine. In college, after a killer first year, I decided that I HAD to make time for sleep, and I proceeded to do just that. I couldn't always stick to it, but I managed to get around 8 hours of sleep per night most of the time. In those times when I couldn't, I would find myself with the same dumbfounded feeling. How did I ever survive without sleep and why can I no longer do that? SERIOUSLY!

So, I'm not really complaining about the situation. As Hubster said on the phone today, "Into every life a little stress must fall." I'm just wondering why I can't handle it anymore - I'm not a disaster, but I'm not tolerating it well. Is it just that I never had anything to compare to my stressed-out self since I was stressed basically from the time I could be emotionally and socially mature enough to endure it? Perhaps that's it. It took me a long time to feel comfortable weaned from the constant activities and scheduling requirements of my collegiate life, but once I did, I was happier for it.

I recognize that's a luxury - CHOOSING a stress-free life. I'm not a mother, so I don't have tiny human beings relying on me for emotional and physical nourishment. I don't have a job which carries huge amounts of stress along with it normally. It's relatively low on that index, which I truly appreciate. I have a good marriage which brings with it stress (like any marriage), but no more than others. I have great families (immediate and in-law), and whether I get to see them often or not, I do have lots of friends who are really fabulous. I even have this great little forum in which you never fail to encourage and amuse me with your comments. But even with all that, I can be stressed. And I still have to deal with it, no matter how out-of-practice I happen to be at the time. Yay, even unto massive over-due projects and feline turf wars shall I deal with it.

But if anyone would like to give me a pass for the day, I'd take it faster than you can say "Vacation HO!"


GMack said...

Goodness Gracious, I haven't met anyone that tightly wound in quite some time. I always have just had the uncanny ability to destress myself and just slow my life down. I think I just take it like I really don't care. I find that my potential for rudeness and self-centeredness plays nicely into my destressing. Many of the things that stress me out in my life are things that I put on myself. For example...I have to keep in touch with everyone and I need to do this and I have to get this done or the world will end. Truth be told, that isn't the case. Some times it is just nice to not care about anybody else but yourself. The other thing is that you make time for the people who really care and would notice. For example, I make time for my wife because she appreciates it. Like making dinner and such. It not only takes the focus off of me, but I know that she will really appreciate what I am doing (and on a subconsious level: I may get sex). Another nice thing is to try just taking your watch off for a day and not worrying about what time it is. Finally, I do realize that this approach may not lead me to be the next world leader or Bill Gates, BUT I am totally ok with that. I would much rather live a slower paced, enjoyable life with somebody who has made many enjoyable memories with me. When we get old, it won't be "WOW, remember how you were stressed out all the time." It will be "Remember when you took off work and we spontaneously went for a picnic lunch..."

Plankiest said...

Okay, haven't even read this post yet. Was scrolling to make sure that I am not missing any other new posts.

But I can quantitatively say that I am a "vacation HO."

E.A.P said...

gmack - This medium has a funny way of making you say more and less than you mean at the same time. Part of my ranting is really venting, so it's not literal, I'm just whining. The other part is true, and perhaps I AM really tightly wound, but there it is. Already after a good sleep last night, I'm doing better today. I'll work on chilling, though. That's almost always a good idea. Hug you hot wifey for me. Tell her I miss her.

plankiest - I meant that in the "Tally ho!" sense, but hey, who isn't a ho for vacation? Thanks for the laugh.

My word verification is "ywroyu" - which is how I would transcribe Scooby saying "I love you." Awesome.

Don Quixote said...

Part of the reason you are so stressed is that you wrap up too much of your self esteem into what others EXPECT of you. Take it easy. If the project takes longer than it is supposed to, the foundations of the earth will not shatter. Your co-workers will not hate you. Your bosses will not fire you. In short, the sun WILL still come up.

Of course, everything is about moderation. You can't take the above thought TOO far, or you become lazy and a worthless employee. Thus, you take a middle ground.

You work hard because it is the right thing to do. Then you RELAX and DON'T THINK ABOUT IT until it is time to work again. I know this is easier said than done, but it IS possible.