Stress — /stres/ noun — a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
Raise your hand if you haven’t felt this in the past 48 hours. If you have your hand raised, imagine me giving you a virtual high five. Congratulations. To the rest of you out there, welcome to our not-so-exclusive club.
Real Women, by virtue of simply getting through our busy super-woman days, consider stress to be a regular part of life. We are all well aware that life serves up large doses of challenges, and how we cope with those challenges varies as much as our hair color. Certainly there are serious, high-stress moments in our lives which deserve respect and attention, like the loss of a job, natural disasters, family issues, health concerns and war. God forbid any of us experience these moments, yet we somehow seem to rise to the occasion and make it through.
On the other hand, it seems that it is the more minor stresses and strains that we run into far more frequently that tend to set us the most on edge. Running late to an appointment, burning dinner, trying to help with a child’s homework, even trying to find clothes that fit – ah, yes, these are the things that can get our heart rate up, clench our stomachs, stiffen our necks, have us rubbing our temples and turning us into short-tempered witches. These seemingly trivial events pile up on our already overwhelmed psyches and within the blink of an eye we are spinning in a stress vortex.
Even the most inconsequential aggravations feel very real when they are happening. Yet if we can somehow manage to step outside the vicious grip, we can see it for what it really is: Stupid Stress. Not heavy duty, serious stress. Stupid Stress. And I’d like to start a movement to Stop Stupid Stress.
This morning I was running just a bit behind schedule. I was feeling the need to get to work early because I was already worried about getting everything done that I needed to do. (Note to self, stop answering work emails before 6:30am). I was having a bad hair day, and couldn’t think clearly enough to find something to wear. And just like that, the stress vortex started, my evil twin emerged, and I found myself standing in my closet cursing like a truck driver. Yup, once again I had succumbed to Stupid Stress.
I had to get my dog outside to do his business, and when I stepped out, I saw the first snowflakes of the season falling. I’m not a big fan of winter. (Yes, I realize the irony that I live in New England and feel an animosity toward the season). But in this instance, with my dog happily scampering across the yard, the quick brisk blast of refreshing cold air and drifting flakes acted like a proverbial clarifying slap when I needed it. I took a few deep breaths and willed my evil twin away.
When I stepped back inside, the News was on and broadcasting an update to the horrific aftermath of the monster storm that has hit the Philippines. Those poor people were beyond Serious Stress. What they are experiencing can’t be appropriately put into words.
Funny how, if we are open to seeing the blatant signs, we can regain perspective within just a few short minutes when needed. I had successfully conducted my SSS campaign, and headed to work in a calmer mode. It was a long busy day, and as the work day was supposed to be ending and I was starting to feel the pressure of my unfinished to do list, I could feel my neck start to ache, my vortex kicking in…. then I received a call from my son. His happy and proud voice on the phone was telling me he had brought home his report card, and he had made Honor roll. SSS.
There are times when feelings of stress are warranted, maybe even necessary. But for all those other times…. Shouldn’t we try just a little bit harder to just let things roll? To do our best to not give in to all that rampant Stupid Stress? Wouldn’t we all feel so much better if we could?
I know, it is easier said than done. We’ve all been there, done that, and feel it all too often. Yet I urge you to join me in my crusade. The next time you feel that spiral starting, take a breath and ask yourself if it is really worth getting worked up over, really worth that cranky witchy feeling you are about to get. Who knows….maybe, just maybe, together, Real Women, we can Stop Stupid Stress.