It has been a stressful year.
This morning, on the really short drive to the office here in Nashville, I started pondering the various events that happened over the last year.
Last night, before I fell asleep, I was reading Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution”. Specifically, the chapter about sleep and stress where he talks about how too little sleep and too much chronic stress can really affect you in a negative way. Turns out our ancestors only had to deal with *acute* stress i.e. every once in a while, something would try to eat them or fight with them or something. Today, we deal with chronic, constant, and unyielding amounts of stress that literally eats away at our souls and turns us into broken, pathetic individuals. How long this stress takes to break a person down will be different for everyone based on their constitution.
If you recall my post about going to the doctor (all 2 of you that read this), you will remember that she said that I had gained 11 pounds since my visit last year. Sure, I have been hitting WODs hard and eating lots of protein. I am sure that some of that is added muscle. I am also sure that some of that is added fat.
See I have had a really stressful year, but I hadn’t really thought about it until now.
Let’s review, shall we? This past year has had some amazing life events, but all came along with very high levels of stress:
- I got married. Awesome! It’s great to be married and I’m sure that my wife will agree with me when I say that I am happy that the wedding/reception(s) are all over. The events themselves were happy & fun days for the most part, but the sustained stress over a long period of time to get them planned was really something I NEVER want to have to do again.
- My job has become exponentially more involved. Over the course of a year, work has gotten WAY busier in that there is more to do in less time and this occurs on a sustained basis. From a financial we-aren’t-gonna-go-broke perspective, this is great. I don’t really stress day-to-day about whether or not I will make my bills and I am thankful for this, but the associated workload as proved to be a constant source of stress, aggravation, and worry.
- I’ve tried to start my own business and failed. V and I tried to get a paleo foods company going, but well, it never really worked out. I won’t go into the reasons why on a public forum, but the stress of trying to make it work at times, was pretty high. While I have a bit of a sense of relief that we have decided to abandon the idea, part of me is really disappointed that we can’t really pursue this right now. It is what it is.
- My wife is pregnant. Yay! We are having a baby! I can’t begin to express how happy I am for this. There are so many positive feelings that come out of this like knowing that we are both good and healthy, knowing that I won’t be 80 when my kids are in school, etc. As I am sure most fathers or even most prospective fathers will attest is EXTREMELY stressful. People will always say that men will never know what the woman is going through during pregnancy, and I wholeheartedly agree. I will never truly understand how my wife feels at this time given what’s going on inside of her body. However, from the other perspective, I am not sure that any woman can really truly understand how much work goes into taking care of you and making sure that you have everything provided for you. This is not a complaint, mind you, just an observation about what this particular life experience entails. This has been a source of a considerable amount of stress over the past few months.
- Day to day things that just pop up. We all have these little issues/problems/situations that pop up out of nowhere and derail our otherwise ride to happyville. A problem with a bill, something wrong with medical coverage, family problems, relationship issues, financial worries about the future… they all feed into a constant stream of never-ending stress if not placed into perspective and dealt with accordingly. I have been letting these things really get to me at times.
I have to say that after listing all of this out and seeing it in front of me, I am honestly surprised that I don’t weight 300# and suffer from high blood pressure at this point in time.
Interestingly enough, though, a few weeks ago, something in me changed. I hesitate to use the word “snapped” because I didn’t go on a murderous rampage. Believe me, sometimes, I wish I could with no consequences.
I made the decision, conscious or not, I can’t really remember, to just not let this kind of stuff affect me at the level that it is/was anymore. It was like the “care” switch just turned off.
What to I mean by this? Here’s an example.
Usually at work, I get calls from my boss where he talks about all of the work and projects that are in the pipeline. I have known my boss for over 15 years. He’s a good friend and I am one of the first 4 people in the company, so we talk about this stuff often. As an employee, this used to really get me SO stressed out. For a while, I was the only one, really that would be doing the work. So, as he would be telling me about everything coming down and when it needed to start, my blood pressure would be slowly rising as I started to think about things like “how in the hell am I going to deliver all of this/manage this/juggle this”… “it’s too much”… “I can’t handle it”. Then I would fret about it for hours after and it would ruin my mood for the rest of the day/evening.
Now, these conversations go something like this:
Him: We have this that, that, that, and that, all coming and they all need to start then.
Me: Ok, whatever… we will figure it out. No big deal.
This attitude has started to bleed into my personal life as well. I won’t go into too much detail there as I am sure you get the picture. Financial worries, problems with family, relationship problems… whatever.
They will all get worked out eventually. I can’t let all of this stress kill me slowly. I have a kid on the way and don’t want to die early because I couldn’t manage what everyone and the world demands of me. So, take a number. I’ll get to you at some point.
Now, I don’t want you to misinterpret this “whatever” attitude as “wow, he doesn’t care about anything”. That isn’t true. There’s lots that I care about, get worked up about, and really put a lot of energy into. At this point though, I’m really only sweating the stuff that warrants sweating.
- Problems with money? Whatever.
- Medical insurance changes and triple in price? Whatever.
- Dishwasher broken? Whatever.
- Need a bigger house, but house is currently upside down? Whatever.
- Need to outfit baby room with furniture? Whatever.
- Need to travel every other week for the next 12 weeks? Whatever.
- Cars need maintenance but no time to do it? Whatever.
- Food bills cost 1/4 of your monthly income? Whatever.
I will no longer drive myself crazy with trying to keep the wheels on the wagon. Even if they come off, they can be put back on. Everything will get dealt with eventually and the things that have a higher priority get the most attention. Right now, those things are making sure that my wife is healthy and OK, and making sure that I do well at my job so that I can continue having a job.
But wait, aren’t you (Bryan) a priority? Well, I guess, sorta. I eat well and workout. I try to go to sleep at a reasonable hour and now, with this attitude shift I have been making, I feel a lot less stress overall.
The only problem that I am starting to see with this is that it’s really easy overdo it which leads to this feeling of being a mindless automaton where you just say “uh-hu
h, whatever” to anything that is asked of you. When I do this at work, I am well aware that saying “uh-huh, sure, whatever” to everything will make the work pile on endlessly. To avoid this, I make sure to protest things when I have to, but still don’t really get all that worked up about it like I used to.