Friday, April 29, 2011

Stress Seekers Anonymous

True or False:
If you're not running then you're not moving fast enough? 

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Did you answer True or False? At first I answered with a resounding false, but then I thought about it for a few minutes. I think my answer is that while it is theoretically false, my day-to-day lifestyle suggests it is probably true. I think there are lots of women who, like me, are accustomed to looking at the clock and thinking, I only have twenty minutes until I need to leave to drive carpool, but I bet I can fold this load of laundry AND put it away, and still get to the school by 3:29pm. I might even be able to start another load if I work quickly! And I might as well return my sister's phone call while I'm folding. But I need to remember to grab a snack for Elisabeth before I head out the door. Maybe I should just stick it by the backdoor now, and then I'll start folding and call my sister back. Nineteen minutes left? Plenty of time. 

Last week I ripped the following headline from an article by Maura Rhodes in Women's Health magazine:

Are you a Stress Seeker? More and more women are overworked, overwhelmed, and overwrought. The bigger problem: They're proud of it! Learn how to break an unhealthy, addicted-to-high-anxiety lifestyle.

I know this article isn't talking to everyone, but I'm willing to bet it's resonating with a few of you because personally, I love racing the clock. I love the exhilaration of doing the dishes while talking on the phone while stirring the soup, or giving my girls a bath while I clean the rest of the bathroom when I have to be out the door in twenty minutes and gosh, I could really use a quick shower myself! I know I'm busy, aren't we all, but until I read this article I didn't realize that maybe the fun of racing the clock is not a fabulously efficient way to live afterall. At least not if you plan on living a long life! 

The article discussed how women become so used to an adrenaline-driven lifestyle that no matter what the task, it still feels like a race. They need to do more, work harder, move faster. And apparently, the article warned, you can't sustain a constant, daily adrenaline rush without thrashing your body in the process!

Well, this is all news to me. I am absolutely guilty of feeling a sense of glowing pride that I can sprint all day long and get up and do it again the next day. If I have an empty time slot, I fill it. That's not to say I'm curing cancer in my basement, but we go to the park or run errands or I write a blog post. But after reading the article I'm realizing that whatever it is that we're doing at our house, we are almost always in a hurry.

Long sigh. I guess this is a problem. I'm guessing this is a problem for many of you as well. But I've come to resent those conversations when my husband or my mother says to me in a noble voice, "You need to cut some things out." Good, I tell them, because I didn't like doing laundry or packing lunches for the girls anyway. Just what would you suggest I cut out? And then they're stumped. 

I like my life. I like doing all the things that I do with my girls and my house and my writing. But I also don't want to wear out my loyal and trusty ol' body. There is so much that I want to do and see and write about and in many ways I feel as if I've just begun. Is there a Tortoise and the Hare moral waiting to be realized in all of our lives?

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This is definitely one of those posts where I'm left with more questions than answers, but one thing I'm not going to suggest is for you adrenaline junkies out there to cut something out. Afterall, no one ever suggested that the Tortoise ought to just skip the middle part of the race. But the slowing down part makes sense. I can't read an article detailing how my heart is going to explode from some cortisol malfunction if I keep a sustained adrenaline rush without second guessing my lifestyle. And so I'm going to try to slow down. More specifically, I'm going to try and be early to things. Arriving early, leaving early, or showering early isn't going to waste bucket loads of time. I can still do what I want to do... it just doesn't always have to be a race.


  1. I love this post!
    There is a saying that I try to live by, "Go slow to go fast"
    Sometimes slowing down, doing less things better, more thoroughly, will ultimately help us "go fast" in other areas in our lives. It's hard to slow down sometimes for sure.
    I saw a program on multi-tasking and the woman said that so many people (mostly women) are so proud of how they can multi-task so well, but what they are really doing most of the time is "half-tasking" which leads to more stress because things are not getting done well or the way they should be. So "going slow" in many cases will help us DO better and BE better for ourselves and those around us! :)

  2. Oops-that last comment about going slow to go fast was Karen :) Cami forgot to sign out of my computer!

  3. I'm glad you liked this post. When I saw the headline for the article I quoted above I immediately started copying it down in my notebook. It just rang true, you know what I mean!

  4. I love this post! Just the other day Jake said to me "You CAN'T get sick. You do EVERYTHING." I would also like to say that while I was reading this post I was folding laundry. haha.

  5. I definitely get like this sometimes. And it makes me feel crazy. I can't imagine living like that all the time though. It would make my head explode. I think we do need to use our time wisely and be accountable for it, but I also think it's important to take time to relax. Like everyday. One of my worries when I'm in super busy mode is making others feel like I don't have time for them. Like my to do list is more important than my relationship with them. I try not to do this to friends, but I'm sad to say I know I do it to my kids. I need to find a balance there.

  6. I've never thought of it that way, but you're so right Michelle. Being over scheduled DOES make other people feel like you're too busy for them. Not on purpose of course. But there's a feeling of self-importance that can grow from the attitude of "my life is so urgently busy all the time."

  7. I love the way you are able to express in words a lot of the pressures we feel as women. Thanks for this post. You are such an amazing writer!


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