Saying Ahhh. . . Dealing With Stress in Our Lives

I’ve begun a new tradition.  When I wake up in the morning, I turn on the light and read for a little while.  It’s a much more civilized way to face the day than to jump out of bed running, which was my old tradition.  Lying in bed a few extra minutes has had a welcome side effect, too.  Since my husband often rises a little earlier than I do, he’s taken to bringing me coffee.  Who says men can’t be trained?  First I extolled the virtues of every man we know who does this.  Then I compared it to the joys of another activity often enjoyed in the same room. 

He got it.

I’ve begun another new tradition, as well.  I’m trying to read my backlog of magazines and recycle them.  This morning the traditions meshed.  I picked up my latest Better Homes and Gardens, and turned straight to an article about reducing stress.   Now, I don’t know about you, but the moment someone tells me I should reduce stress, I am more stressed.  It’s another job to do.  Feed the Dog.  Walk the Dog and Keep Him From Eating Bad Things.  Grocery Shop.  Write a Chapter.  Reduce Stress.


By the time I finished the article, I was too stressed to remember most of it.  But one thing stuck with me.  Women, it turns out, are far more likely than men to answer their email immediately.  After all, we live to please. Since that’s a stressor, the advice was to turn off the email alerts on the computer.  Then we can answer email when we have time and inclination.

Now why didn’t I think of that.   Why didn’t you?

Clearly the path to reducing stress is to take control.  Turn off the email alerts.  Stay in bed a little longer in the morning or go to bed a little earlier.  Take a walk midday–without the poop-eating beagle if possible.   Think about our own needs and put them forward, at least for a little while.

Later, while thinking about this as I loaded so many grocery bags into my car that the stranger beside me announced he was glad he hadn’t had to pay my bill, I realized I was heaving the bags like a stevedore with a quota.  Whose deadline was I on, anyway?  Maybe my New Year’s Resolution should be to slow down, to take note of the many times when I rush, tense, worry, and just stop in my tracks.

Of course New Year’s Resolutions are tyrannical stressors, so that was a bad idea.  But maybe paying attention will be today’s resolution.  I’ll note how many things I try to speed through and maybe walk slower.  Note how many times I tense up and maybe relax, instead.  Go home, put away food that needs refrigeration and leave the rest on the counter to put away slowly.  Maybe over wine tonight while my husband and I chat about our days.

Ahhh. . .

Dealing with stress?  Dealing is stressful.  So no dealing.  But noting stress whenever it occurs to us?  When it feels right to pay attention?  When we think we might possibly be able to change something tiny?  Maybe that’s okay.

As for me?  I’m going to turn off my email alerts for good, and when I feel like it, I’m going to put away the canned goods.  Everything else?  We’ll see.  

How about you?


  1. Laine on January 13, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Oh, I like this! Emilie, how wise you are. I read that BH&G article on reducing stress too, and I could just feel my blood pressure climbing. Unfortunately, I was slower than you to realize the wisdom of NOT dealing. We’ve spent so many years trying to fill our days with ever more things done ever faster–you’re right, it’s time to call a halt. Before our overworked, overstressed bodies do it for us.

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