Associate Editor, Healthy Living
9 & 1/2 Things I’m Not Stressing Over Anymore
Posted: 03/15/2013 8:43 am
Something I find fascinating: You can literally throw away your negative thoughts. In a study done last November, participants were told write down their personal, invalidating beliefs on paper. Those who got to crumple their inner demons and dunk them a la NBA player Terrence Ross into a wastebasket (so maybe it wasn’t as dramatic, but I like to imagine) were less likely to be bogged down by their negativity.
Could the same be true for stressful thoughts?
As a GPS for the Soul editor — someone who reads, writes, Tweets and preaches about stress management all day — I have my own tools that work when stress rears its repugnant head. I know when it’s time to step away from the computer for a break. I’ve stored an arsenal of positive mantras if I’m ever in need of some uplifting perspective. All good. But this doesn’t mean I don’t stress.
So I wonder, could posting a blog on what I’ve resolved to no longer stress about diminish my worry, anxiety and — yes — stress? Once confronted and publically confessed, will the load be lifted (at least a little)?
9 ½ Stressors I’m Crumpling Up and Dumping in the Trash
1. Being A “Good” Dancer.
I will never be a good dancer. This is an objective statement. I don’t move like Jagger, I can’t get low, please don’t ask me to drop it like it’s hot. But rather than lean against the wall and stress, I’m just going to enjoy the music and embrace my inner Elaine.
2. Running Solo.
For me, running is meditative and peaceful. I love the feeling of my mind clearing out, and when I’m back at the door from my morning loop there’s this indescribable lightness that embodies my entire physicality.
Running only becomes stressful when other people enter the equation: Some (looking at you, sisters) persist that I sign up for races to get better, faster, stronger. The few I have completed took me out of the moment: I focused on my pace, the feet in front me and the legs I was able to count as I passed. It’s not serene, it’s competitive — and that’s not the spirit of my running.
And, to their vocal chagrin (I’m sorry!), running with friends makes me self-conscious: Am I running too fast? Do I run kind of weird? Should I be embarrassed for listening to “Climax” on repeat? When I run, I want to be by my lonesome, taking in the sights through my own lens, and feeling the endorphins surge.
I’m opting out of feeling obliged to join anyone — friend or opponent — on a run. And I’m saying “no thanks” without the guilt.
Which brings me to number 2 ½ …
2 ½. Still Running Solo.
I’ve never been one to suffer from FOMO. If anything, I suffer from FOMFTIA (that’s Fear of My Friends Thinking I’m Antisocial). I’m incredibly lucky to have such a loving pack who care to spend time with me, but there are moments, once again, that I prefer being on my own. And there lies the pressure — hence the stressor — of being cajoled to join in the fun. Here’s granting myself more permission to say “no” when an afternoon of reading a book, surfing the web (and being generally nerdy) or window shopping beats out the prospect of day-drinking by a landslide.
So, whatever. The list of things I am not addicted to is a whole lot longer than the list of things to which I am. Science has a lot to work out about coffee, so in the meantime, just let me have this — jitters, shakes and all.
4. My Sense of Direction.
It’s bad, real bad. Once, on my four-hour trip home from college — upstate New York to Long Island — I ended up back at college … after four hours. Really. If I had a GPS surgically implanted it wouldn’t be the worst thing. And now in Manhattan, HopStop and I are in a semi-romantic relationship in lieu of a subway system that turns my brain inside-out. I used to stress about how I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere without technology. Now, instead of stress, I’m going to graciously accept all the help I can get.
5. Being Blind as a Bat.
Nearly every year, I get my eyes checked and my contact lens script raised. I have spent too much time being dramatic and upset over the possibility that I’ll one day not be able to see — realistically I know, it’s genetic, we are an appallingly near-sighted clan. From here on, I’m vowing to take in all the beauty that I have the privilege of looking at, and banking on that miraculous technology to fix my vision in the near future.
6. The Sentimental Things I’ve Lost.
My grandma’s turquoise pendant, that bracelet from an important boyfriend, a beloved, music-making stuffed animal — Lamby. The list goes on — items I’ve attached meaning to that are nowhere to be found. They weigh heavily on shelves inside my head. But as I’m regretting my careless misplacement of these things, I realize now, their memories — the meaningful parts — live right here, written down, typed up, catalogued in this very blog. Which means I haven’t lost these sentiments in the first place, and there’s not a reason to worry about all that’s unfound.
7. Pleasing Everyone at the Dinner Table.
In my experience, people treat vegetarians like strange, starving, picky burdens. I may be strange and picky, but starving I am most certainly not.
Others’ concerns for how I’ll navigate a restaurant menu (“We can’t go there,” “You won’t like this,” “Will this be enough for you?”) can no longer be of my concern.
Just a note: I’d do a jig for skirt steak salad with crumbled feta (sans skirt steak, please) and if it’s one of those bacon-and-brussels-sprout joints, I’m assertive enough to ask them to hold the pig. Don’t worry, people — be happy. I sure am, especially when I get the chance to dine out.
8. Keeping in Touch.
Facebook has done wonders for keeping us connected, to a certain degree. For me, the upset is the conspicuous reminder that I’ve done a poor job of keeping tabs — other than the ones lining my browser — on the many magnificent people who’ve come into my life. Instead of tossing and turning awake, mentally listing the check-up emails that I should be crafting, it’s been decided — here and now — that people float in and out of your life in waves at the times they’re meant to.
9. My Five-Year Plan.
I have plenty of friends who are on a five-year-track: They know just where they want to be and have a neat itinerary for when what will happen and how. Not me.
I’m not sure where I’ll land down the line, but when I hear people recite their life plans like roll call, or they cock their head at me in that way when I say “I dunno,” to what’s next, well, it stresses me out. I value the unknown and I won’t stress about it — I’m looking forward to good things. I’m optimistic (and almost certain) that my dreams are malleable and will mold and mesh with the times. So I’ll let them.