Defining Stress

I’m back from a 2 1/2 week vacation abroad and nearly 3 1/2 weeks off work, and the last thing I’m ready to come back to is stress. Coming home means coming back to responsibilities with house, family, and the day job, not to mention trying to make time for all of the creative tasks I’d like to tackle in my life. Taken individually, those responsibilities are typically fairly easy and often quite enjoyable. Taken as a whole… well, let’s just say that little stressors love to group up like mean kids at a party and together they can ruin all the fun.

I had a great quote sitting in my inbox when I returned home from traveling. “Stress is the difference between who you think you need to be and who you actually are.” (Please click here to be linked to the original article quoted.)

Wow. Wake up call.

think I need to manage everything by myself. I’m responsible for keeping my house magazine-perfect both in cleanliness and style. I am responsible for creating and maintaining a perfect system of organization for everything in my house, both physical and digital. I’m responsible for always having an idea of what to cook for dinner, for always keeping bills in perfect order, and for somehow still spoiling everyone in my life on top of it.

I’m also responsible for finding plenty of time around all of that to read, write, blog, submit my work, and do other creative things like photography, scrapbooking, studying language, and more. I should have time to play the piano and harp (both of which I own and neither of which I’m amazing at largely due to lack of practice). I should also have time to keep up on all of my favorite television shows; it seems everyone else manages to do so. I should have time for networking online, both for fun and for writing (hopefully one day professionally). And I should have time for all of that and more around my 40 hours a week sitting in an insurance office keeping customers happy and maintaining a long list of ‘all the little things’ that run in the background as is expected of an office manager. And I don’t even have kids!

I wonder why stress likes to chase me down…


Now let’s look at who I am.

I’m always conscious of the state of cleanliness and clutter in my house, with the aim for improving it. It will never be magazine-perfect, at least partially because hubby and I are quirky enough our tastes probably wouldn’t fit a magazine! Little by little and gaining ground faster all the time I’m getting my household, both physically and digitally, organized. I do at least try to cook at home often, though I rely on my husband to sometimes tell me what to make for dinner (I’m happy to make it, just tell me what you want so I don’t have to think). I’ve only been late on a bill once that I can remember in 6 years of marriage (and it was a total mistake on my part of misreading the calendar) and I usually manage to get a decent amount of spoiling my loved ones in despite not having a huge budget. Hey, I love spoiling way too much to not do it! This definitely includes spoiling the hubby when I can.

I do manage to fit in some time for reading, even if not as much as I’d like. I’m working hard on figuring out the best routine for me when it comes to writing around the schedules of a busy life. I do manage blogging at least sometimes… you’re reading a post now! And submitting my work is becoming a habit rather than something I have to remind myself about, which is great. I’m learning that I will never be consistent with other creative hobbies, but that sometimes I need to throw myself into them for a weekend or a week or two to get it out of my system in a rush. As long as I make time for it at some point, I’m happy.

I will never be proficient at a musical instrument and that’s okay. I’m not getting rid of the ones I own, and perhaps someday I’ll figure out how to find time for them again. Television will always be there. I make time for the things my husband and I like to watch together (wooo Jeopardy!) because it isn’t just about TV, it’s about us time. I fit in the other things I’d like to watch here and there. And networking? A big work in progress. And that’s okay. Does anyone really know how to network anyway? Isn’t it just a bunch of people pretending they have a plan when really they’re all winging it too?

Finally, I’m learning to (mostly) leave the office at the office. Sometimes it bleeds over during my lunch hour when I’m ready to strangle someone or something, but that’s because I know I’m getting ready to go right back to it. When 5 o’clock comes I do my very best to drop it at the door when I walk out. (Disclaimer: most days my job is pretty awesome and easy to manage, but there’s always that one day… you know that kind of day.)

Reading that it’s no wonder that I’m a huge cause of my own stress. I think I should be able to manage the work of five or more people. But I’m just one. And confession? I love sleep.

Being aware of what you want to change is half the fight! Look at the dichotomy of who you think you should be and who you really are (at least for now). Where does your stress lie?



11 thoughts on “Defining Stress

  1. I’m sorry things are stressful for you…. Somehow, I have these 4 long months before September (starting back in April) to not do anything. I’m unemployed by default (and legally unable to work)…. so I thought I would be bored out of my mind. Instead I created all of these new projects for myself to do and am feeling behind schedule daily. On the one hand, I’m doing stuff that I would never have time to do otherwise (like go jogging and diet) but on the other… I have to start wondering if I’m trying to keep myself busy so I don’t have to spend too long thinking very deeply about the source of this stress. Probably something I should just slow down enough to face and reckon with. :/

    • At the moment the stress isn’t too bad! Haven’t been back home long enough for it to really set in yet I figure. But I also figured it was time to sit down and think things over a bit so maybe I don’t get quite as bad as I usually work myself up to being.

      I hope you can find a happy balance of not working and still getting things done. (And I hope the change in country is treating you as well as it can for now.) It seems like we’re hardwired anymore to *find* something to be responsible for and which gives us a schedule we can inevitably fall behind on…

      Experience tells me it is best to break out your mage wand and greatsword and battle the source while you can still see it before it becomes buried in all the Other of life if you can. I believe in you!

  2. I can relate to a lot of this! I always am taking on so many side projects/hobbies etc as I am still looking for my path in life and am not happy in the job I have. I always keep telling myself you should be doing this and you should be doing that….should should should everywhere! I have been trying to choose only a couple of projects to focus on at a time and sometimes that works (but sometimes not). As always it is a work in progress! Thank you for sharing!

  3. You found the perfect comic strip didn’t you? So easy to not do anything rather than face what has to be done. And exactly what I do when I get stressed. But after the Netflix show is over, I get up and make a list. Writing down exactly what I have to do helps me see the beginning and the end and somehow, everything gets done. Or at least the things that are most important. 🙂

    • My husband actually stumbled across this comic a few days ago. When I sat down to write this post I knew I had to share it. Lists are absolutely my friend! But also sometimes my enemy… because I can get so caught up in list-making I forget to do the things on the list. Oops!

    • Thanks for dropping by! I hear you on nature. Our house sits on a bit over 2 acres and it’s lovely. Hardly a farm, but just enough space to be able to step outside my door and have some peace with the trees and critters.

  4. One of the reasons I decided to learn how to knit was to reduce stress. When I’m knitting, I can’t focus on or think about anything else but the stitches I’m knitting. It literally makes it impossible to overthink the things on my worry list. The repetition of knitting stitches and counting for a pattern really helps to calm my brain down enough to be able to sleep and to let things go that had way too much priority inside my head. 🙂

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