Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dealing With Stress

"It isn't what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it's what we say to ourselves about what happens."
-Pema Chodron

Several weeks ago the bulb on our big screen TV blew (about $400 to replace which isn’t a huge priority right now), our phone line went dead (it took visits from three technicians and a week before the problem was fixed), we lost our satellite feed in a storm, we lost our internet connection, the battery back-up for our computer died and the digital readout on the oven clock was permanently scrambled in a power hit.

A week ago our furnace finally gave in (after twenty years it was to be expected, we just didn’t know when it would happen). Several thousand dollars to replace. Two days ago our basement bathroom started to flood when the drain in the window well became clogged. I'll be spending part of the holiday weekend with a shovel digging it out and fixing it.

Yesterday our phone line died again and the internet connection cut in and out. I wrote most of this post in a Word document as I couldn't open my blog.

Flashback to 2008. In the first month, Sandy was in hospital three times. I had my car accident in April, shortly afterwards we had the same flooding problem in the bathroom (twice within a week). My father had a heart attack and quadruple bypass, Sandy’s mom passed passed away in the Fall and a friend of mine from my hobby club also died.

Sometimes it feels like life is relentlessly throwing shit at you. We all feel this way at some time or another, and I know many of you are feeling like that now. So how do we deal with all this when it seems never-ending? 

I think the most important thing to do is try to look at things logically and try to minimize your emotional reaction. As someone who’s ruled by his heart and not his head I know this is easier said than done, believe me. But if you want any hope of getting over obstacles life brings, you really do have to keep your attitude in check. Your outlook is everything, and in the end it’s what will get you through. All the help in the world from others won’t completely help if your head’s not where it should be.

If there are a lot of things happening right now, I suggest writing out everything that’s going wrong around you. Divide them into two groups; things you have some control over and those you don’t. Put aside the things that are beyond your control. Yes you’ll worry and stress about them but most of your energy needs to go into those which you can do something about.

Rank them in importance (severity) from worst to mildest. Then go over this list and evaluate how bad these things really are. In the case of everything happening to us lately, it’s not that any one thing is bad, it’s just that they’ve all come one after the other which has the potential of being very aggravating.

I look at dealing with problems much like an air traffic controller would land airplanes. Stack ‘em, pack ‘em and rack ‘em. Try to take things as they come instead of looking at them as a whole. Bite-size pieces are more manageable.

I rarely let stress get the better of me at work. Part of what I do is prioritize situations. Another way of combatting a potentially stressful situation is to take deep breaths throughout the day. It’s as simple as that really, and I find it does wonders. Also, any form of physical activity will go a long way in helping the body and mind stay sharp. Getting proper sleep is also important (although I’ve been really bad with this).

Sex can be a great stress-reliever. Some women find the best way to blow off steam is to get physical between the sheets, although I think this is the exception rather than the rule; I don‘t believe too many women are in the mood for sex when they‘re stressed. (Guys would have sex in the middle of a gunfight so I’m not including us here). Orgasm has been shown in studies to permanently relieve headache symptoms due to the release of endorphins, the body's 'feel-good' chemical.  Just sayin' it's worth a try, and if it doesn't work are you any further behind?  :)


  1. The quote you included, and post that you wrote is wonderful! A great reminder that we are the ones in control our reactions, emotions, and outlooks.

    Just reading the list of everything going on right now in your life made me feel a little exhausted, so I can't imagine how your feeling right now! I can usually think logically through these types of situations, it's minimizing the emotional reaction that I struggle with.

    I've stressed a lot over a couple of things this summer which I didn't forced myself to have the best outlook. The first thing my boyfriend will ask me is if I have any control over the situation. Since I usually don't, he then reminds me that I need to let it go. He must be thinking along the same lines as you!

  2. Are you feeling any better now, or rather, are things going towards a more positive route? I hope so- because you inspire so many people and you deserve all the best!

  3. I have an expression very similar to that cat some days . . .

    Stress management has been a huge hurdle for me . . . but I think I'm finally at the point that I can successfully handle it. The only that really gets me is when money gets tight; its hard not to stress then.

  4. What a great post!!! We certainly can control things - imagine if we could? Ok maybe its a good thing we can't. I keep the Serenity Prayer close to me - as at times that cat looks quite calm compared to me... LOL... Keep smiling my friend - sometimes its all we can do!! HHL

  5. Great post. I agree this is a good way to manage things... I haven't actually done the splitting into manageable and unmanageable, but I will have too!

    I hope your stuff gets fixed and that you keep your good attitude!

  6. i like the solutions you provided and i also like the way you deal with stress/loss.
    that is soo true. things we have no control over, we needn't worry about too much. just take it, for it is meant to be anyway.
    i would just want to add that as long as my family and friends, those i care for most, are doing ok-this is what really counts in this world for me.
    phone line, internet connection, etc are just things to deal with on the spot than throw out of my life's window.
    love this post.

  7. I can really relate to this. I have a hard time prioritizing and dealing with stuff I have no control of. I'd probably have sex during a tornado or earthquake, sunami, pretty much any time is good...

  8. I hope things will start looking up for you really soon. Ugh. Totally get what you're saying and feeling. I've felt that way for over a year now with things. hahaha :)

    Thinking of you!

  9. Oh my... you kids have tons going on! When all else fails, there's always whisky.

  10. Yeah somehow life always manages to throw stuff in bulk lol. I know that in order to deal I take deep breaths and take it one day at a time. Just hang in there and realize things could always be much much worse.....

  11. I like to think that I handle stress by dealing with one thing at a time too, because that's what makes the most sense to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Jason is the opposite.

    I think we women know that sex is a huge stress reliever, and afterwards we're glad we did it. But it's getting in the mood to even go down that road that's the challenging part when stress is involved.