Monday, May 17, 2010
How do you handle stress? I have always felt I’ve been fairly good at it, ever since my Mom helped me deal with teenage stress when I was a kid. She helped me make a list of everything that bothered me, and then we went through it and decided what could be done about my stresses, if anything. She also taught me to keep a diary, and by now I have tons of them, some with happy entries, but many written when I needed to unleash all my anger or sadness or frustration, and I felt the tension release with the flow of my pen. A diary doesn’t judge or react; it just listens.
Other stress-relievers? I’ve found that attacking a home project, like pulling weeds or painting a room, can be fairly cathartic, and it has the additional plus of marking something off my To-Do list when I’m done. Another method is to create…to paint, write, draw, or do something to get into my work and out of my head. Sometimes I’ve gone to a movie by myself; being by myself with the characters on the screen is comforting. And finally, if all else fails, I could use another method Mom taught me…just go to bed.
I was pretty stressed this Sunday morning when I was out of the house early. The tension of recent events, combined with a fierce case of PMS, caused me to find myself in tears. I’ve always been a crier; it’s another good way to release tension – Mom taught me that, too. But this time, I had nowhere to go. We have a houseguest right now, so I couldn’t go home and cry. My husband was at work and unavailable, so I couldn’t call and vent to him. And faced with the prospect of just sitting in my car and crying, I called my girlfriend, woke her up, and asked to come over.
She greeted me in her pajamas and sleepy face, then escorted me to the kitchen for apple juice and Kleanex, and we spent the next hour on her back patio enjoying the breeze and the warmth of the sun on our feet that stuck out from under the patio cover’s shade. Thank God for friends.
Then as I drove away (I finally felt good enough to go write at Starbucks), I received a phone message from another girlfriend who moved away a couple of years ago. She mentioned that she had been “running around like a crazy chicken” and that’s why she hadn’t had time to call or write recently. Her phrase made me laugh, because I assume she meant “like a chicken with its head cut off.” And yes, lately I too have been a crazy chicken who needs to sit back, make a list of everything that is going wrong and stressing me out, and see what can be done. Then I’ll go to bed.