Do We Live on Stress?

Two days ago, I realized that I had to de-stress.  I am the type that worries about everything.  The specific thing that I was stressed about is irrelevant at the moment.   At any rate, I started thinking of ways to relax.  And then it hit me:  I don’t know how to relax.  I function by being stressed, by stressing myself out.  If I’m not stressed, I don’t function well.

I work last-minute; I procrastinate.  Then, at the last moment, I do what I need to.  One example is my seminar paper (or B.Ed. paper, or whatever you want to call it).  I pushed it off and pushed it off and pushed it off, and I handed it in at the last minute, after working on it for about two nights and one day.  It scored an 85%, which, in my opinion, is pretty good for such a last-minute paper, with last-minute interviews.

I told Yitzchak, “You know, I don’t think I know how to relax.”  He replied, “Really?  What makes you think that?”
Me: “Well, I’m always stressed, and I don’t think I ever really relax totally.”

Him: “I can’t fathom why you would think that!”

Me: “Are you being sarcastic?”

Him: “Obviously!  You seem to like stressing yourself out.”

This got me thinking: How many of us are so wound up that we can’t relax?  How many of us are so stressed out that we equate even less-stressed with completely relaxed, because, to us, it is?  How many of us stress ourselves out on a daily basis, over things that matter and things that don’t?

Things that matter: Paying the bills, eating nutritious meals, taking care of the kids.  Things that don’t: Buying a fancy gift for the birthday party, making a fancy birthday party, buying a new car (assuming the old one is servicable).

More things that matter: Making sure that you communicate well with your spouse, that the two of you support each other’s opinion and parenting, at least in front of the kids.  Making sure that you get enough sleep that you will be able to function the next day.  Making sure that you and your family are healthy, and know basic safety guidelines.

More things that don’t: Buying a new computer when your old one is still good, buying an Ipad5, being friends with everyone, making sure you don’t miss any social events, making sure your house is always super-clean.

See what I mean?  We all stress ourselves out about things that don’t matter so much.  I’m guilty of it too; we all are.  But is this stress good for us?  What will really matter in ten years?  I think we all need to take a step back and think foward: Which of these things will continue to matter?  Which will not matter in ten years, or in twenty years?  If my child isn’t sitting quietly, why is that?  Because he’s a toddler?  Because he’s a hyperactive 7 year old?  Or because he is rude and violent?  Only the last one is a problem that needs to be solved; usually, toddlers grow out of their toddlerhood, and hyperactive seven-year-olds learn to sit through business meetings.  So do I really have to worry about what the people on the bus, who I will probably never see agian, think of me?  Should I even bother?

I am trying to take a deep breath and relax.  I try to envision my ideal life (which is not unrealistic, by the way).  I try to see myself as if I am there now, feeling calm, relaxed, happy.  I try to feel the relaxation that I am pinning on the image in the daydream.  I close my eyes, lie down, and imagine it.  I try to think of ways to relax.  Unfortunately, spending time with my MIL in quiet L. is not feasible at the moment, because we can’t get away right now.  But, I can imagine how it would be, and that is also relaxing.

(Note: This was written last December.  As in, December 2012.  Now, thank G-d, we live in a much quieter city.  Though I wouldn’t mind visiting my mother-in-law, I don’t dream of visiting her nice, quiet city the way I used to.)

12 thoughts on “Do We Live on Stress?

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