The Ends of Your Fists
Most of us don’t stalk wild game for a living. We aren’t following elk or bison until they pass out from exhaustion so we can stab them with a spear and drag them back to our huts to eat for the next few days. I’d venture to say that a lot of us work in front of machines.
A laptop is much easier to kill than a bison. Working an Excel spreadsheet is quite a bit less strenuous than hunting to survive using only your wits and a stone-tipped stick. So why is it that most of us — and keep in mind, I’m including myself — are so stressed out these days?
There are a ton of reasons, I’d guess. The media tells us that most of us are two paychecks away from being homeless. The market crash of 2008 shook most of us up — some of us, myself included, lost jobs we were sure were secure. Then there’s job politics, politics politics, war, cars breaking down, getting cut off in traffic, bills, illness, the threat of illness, diet, exercise… all these things screaming for some of our mental and emotional bandwidth. And when we deal with this stuff all day, every day, it messes with our priorities.
I’ll give an example. As I might have mentioned on the blog before (or might not have — I can’t be expected to remember my own life), I’m going to Europe next week for a couple of weeks. Earlier this month, I found myself stressing out — there was so much I needed to get done before I left. There was work stuff, making sure the dogs were taken care of, making sure the house was squared away, making sure I knew what to take with me…
Then I stopped myself. I was stressing out about a vacation. To Europe. If there’s a whiter problem to have, I can’t think of it.
So how does one de-stress in the face of all the crap we have to worry about all the time? I don’t know, but here are a few things I do that seem to work for me.
One: realize where my fists end. By that, I mean realize that there’s only so much a single human can do, and that worrying about things I can’t change is just wasted energy.
Two: instead of being stressed about what I have to do, or thinking about all the reasons I can’t get something done, I just jump in and start doing the damn thing, even if I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ll either figure it out and get it done, or I won’t — but either way, I at least threw some effort at the problem instead of getting myself all worked up over it.
Three: take a few moments every now and again to do nothing. Relax, recharge. Watch a movie I want to watch, read a book I want to read.
That’s all I’ve got, folks. What’s your sure-fire stress-management strategy?