Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is
the only one you know you have for sure.” Oprah
My mother used to be famous for telling our family: “It’s hard work having a good time.” I was remembering that as I sat nursing a bump on the head from forgetting to duck under an open cabinet door while rushing around setting up camp this weekend. At the same time, I was thinking about writing this column and wondering what to write about.
We used to laugh when mom said “it is hard work having a good time” but the more I live life, the more I realize the truth of it. Life seems to be all about hurrying to DO things. We seem to try to pack in as much as we can into each day. The more we put into the schedule, the more stressful the day becomes. For one thing, nothing ever goes as quickly or as easily as we plan, thanks to things like traffic, the weather, the unexpected phone calls or unplanned things we simply have to deal with. The meeting we planned doesn’t happen because the Zoom connection was bad, or the other person forgot, or they had an emergency or something.
Life in the fast lane. There is an explosion in one part of the world, and it is world news within the same hour. What precautions do you take to erase some of that stress daily? Or, do you just let it build up until you realize you are exhausted.
How long is your To Do List? The busier we are the more we think we can add to the daily To Do List. After all, we are very fast and efficient at getting things done. Or, at least, that is what we tell ourselves.
To change this pattern, you have to be conscious of (aware of) so much from minute-to-minute in your day. Start by becoming aware of not over-booking yourself and not underestimating how long it takes to do things. That is a tough one for most of us. If you are honest with yourself, you will recognize that you underestimate most everything from how long it takes to drive to work to how long it takes to write that report. I spent years estimating my drive to the office from Mandeville to Metairie was 30 minutes. It is and always has been 40 minutes – even with no traffic or bad weather.
And, most important, I will bet that none of you think about putting a real break into your To- Do-List, a period where you can just BE for a few minutes, breathe, stretch, drink some water, and STOP THINKING! Why not put the paper down and take a few minutes right now to just BE.
Today’s Pregnant Woman Has More to Manage
That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you
cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.
~ Chinese proverb
A friend who was about to become a grandmother for the first time told me of her fears about her daughter’s pregnancy. The doctor was concerned about an early or premature delivery. My friend confided to me that she was worried that this had something to do with her daughter being a Type A personality and continuing to work long hours at her job. “Could someone under that much pressure,” she asked, “expect to have a normal baby?”
My friend wasn’t worried about whether her daughter’s child would have ten fingers and toes, two eyes and ears, and a nose. She wondered about the baby’s disposition, ability to rest, and overall health and wellbeing. Intuitively, my friend understood what research is now confirming: too much stress during pregnancy, if not properly managed, can affect the baby’s development in a number of ways. Stress, for example, is now recognized as a primary factor in preterm birth as well as a number of other later childhood problems.
The notion that modern generations are busier and handle more tasks at the same time than past generations is not only supported by research; it is common sense. While we may not need to plow the fields and do the wash by hand, we are juggling more variables, processing more information, and facing increasing psychological demands as our society becomes more technologically advanced. In our fast-paced lives, things change around us rapidly. Change itself is a significant cause of stress because when something in our environment changes, we are compelled to change our behavior. And changing our behavior can be an emotional event often accompanied by fear, anxiety, and even anger.
One of the things my friends’ daughter did when she became pregnant was to examine lists of physical and mental symptoms of stress like the one below. This was the first exercise she did to become more aware of her reactions to the day’s events. These aren’t the only symptoms of a stressful lifestyle, but hopefully you will find this exercise helpful to help you recognize when your tension is mounting.
Considering that many people have a misperception of how well they are handling the rising stress in their lives, how well do you know yourself? Do you find yourself. .?
__ Holding your breath under tension __ Rapidly shaking your foot while sitting
__ Now and then taking a sudden deep sigh __ Being very fidgety or irritable
__ Having a racing heart or sweaty palms __ Jumping to loud or unexpected noises
__ Clenching or wringing your hands __ Trembling all over