Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Stress is Part of the Job

Permissions slips to be filled out and returned. Lunches to be made. Chest tightens. Stomach clenches.

Daughter on the bus, with lunch and signed permission slips. Deep breath, some loosening.

Phone rings--business to take care of--time running out to get Kyle ready for school.
Son is going to be late for preschool. Tight. Mind battles the nervous response, "It's just preschool, Jennifer. Don't worry."

Leaving preschool. A little looser.

Tightness in my chest results as I remember Terry's repeated question over the last week, "Have you done the taxes?"

I take a deep breath and call today "Tax Day" as I fill in the blanks with my handy helper TaxCut, which will hopefully result in a refund.

The weight on my shoulders, which results in the constricted chest, will lift when the taxes are completed. It will soon be replaced with packing stress--for solo trips this weekend and next weekend. The packing stress will grab hold in flashes, as I recall what must be done in order to successfully manage the escape, but the general chest-tightening will remain: Homework projects to oversee, discipline to stay on top of, phone calls to return, clutter to banish. . . .

It never ends. Maybe I should patent a paper clip that will bundle all the stress--putting one one stressor on top of the other with only one at a time affecting me. I could apply accounting principles to it (By the way, I'm not an accountant--just a general know it all):

Last In, First Out (LIFO)--That "big thing" that is consuming all my thoughts, time, or attention will remain at the top of the pile. It's always out, although it will take some time before it's filed away for good.

I also employ this strategy when I am trying to get a handle on everything. Forget all the things which I've neglected for the last month--I'll just take care of the new things on my pile first. This is the answer to my stress problems when I have a lot going on. First thing I think of--that's what I do. "Oh yeah, Amanda's permission slip." I tackle that even though it's not due for a few days, and I still haven't deposited more money in her lunch account, which she needed yesterday.

First in, First Out (FIFO)--This paper clip would be amazing--just put the next "to-do" on the bottom of the pile. I would get to it systematically as I deal with one task at a time, just taking them off the top of the pile and moving on.

I think if I could manage this, I wouldn't have to worry about the big weight on my chest, but unfortunately I don't think my brain works this way.

Katrina posted a great strategy for dealing with worry yesterday. Sometimes just talking about it makes me feel better (it's sure a lot easier than actually doing something about it). What's stressing you out today?

1 comment:

Katrina said...

You caught that ebb and flow of stress so well. I experience the same thing -- clench, release, clench release. And I appreciate your accounting terms (since, of course, I was an accounting major). Often, I need to do that new "big thing" in order to feel some relief. But sometimes wading through a bunch of little old things helps even more -- something about the psychology of crossing multiple things off my mental to-do list, even if they are just little phone calls or returning a book to the library.