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Learning To Manage My Stress
When I was in high school, I would stress over everything. I wanted straight As in school, I wanted to be part of — or in charge of — every club possible and I spent my nights and weekends at the dance studio, trying to be the best I could there. I took on as much as possible and somehow I found time for homework and meals. But I remember always being wound-too-tightly and I had far too many mental and emotional breakdowns to tally up.
When I went away to college, I loosened up a bit in the early years, but by the time I was a senior I was back to being overwhelmed and overworked. Thank goodness for that ever-present box of Franzia to help take the edge off.
Now I’m a little older and just a touch wiser, but I still have a tendency to pile a bit too much onto my plate, both at the dinner table and in the not-so-literal sense of the phrase.
I love trying to do it all. I love being busy. I thrive under pressure at work. (Not so much on the race course. I break down there.)
For the past eight months, I’ve been running around on top of the world. It may have something to do with my new friend.
Since we started dating, I found myself less and less stressed each day. Sure, marathon training got to me sometimes, and fundraising for Run For The Rabbit was a huge undertaking that led to many hours of lost sleep. Ultimately, though, I was happier than ever, so little things, like doing the dishes every night and folding my laundry as soon as it came out of the dryer, weren’t exactly priorities.
I spent this weekend with some of my favorite people.
We ran, we laughed, we ate, we drank and we played with many puppies.
It was perfect.
But then, Emily and Lauren left, and I got sad.
I ate a bacon egg & cheese sandwich in an attempt to cure my hangover, but that didn’t help me the way it used to in college.
Brian came over yesterday afternoon. The plan was to be productive — dishes, laundry, cleaning, responding to emails and definitely not catching up with the Kardashian family — but instead I fell asleep. For almost two hours.
I woke up and freaked out.
I was mad at myself for not being productive. I was mad at myself for “wasting” that precious time. I was annoyed that my laundry wasn’t folded and put away and I was concerned that the weird smell coming from my trash was possibly something that was alive.
Carefree Ali came out to play all weekend.
But then Psycho Beats Herself Up Too Much Ali wanted to hang out last night. I don’t think Brian appreciated that. He doesn’t seem to enjoy her company. She’s rude.
So Brian and I had a little chat. “Little chat” means Brian gave me a stern talking to about how I need to relax.
It helped. And for once I’m not being sarcastic.
Brian has this interesting way of being able to stay calm no matter how much work he has taken on or how much crap he has to do. He’s very good at living in the present and not obsessing over the future. We’re different that way. He tackles tasks one at a time, gives them his full attention and then moves on to the next thing. I’m very envious of his ability to always be rational. I don’t even know what that word means.
Last night, as I chilled out and relaxed, I realized that stress is so stupid. It makes me sick, there’s no doubt about that. Stress almost always comes with a sweet side of Crohn’s.
And really, what am I even stressed about?
Money? Sure. But I’ll find a way to work that stuff out.
My overflowing inbox? OK. So I’ll spend 10 minutes every night this week responding to personal emails and eventually I’ll get caught up.
My diet? Yes, I have eaten like a somewhat gross animal since September 24. But I can change that, starting today. I’ve been feeling a little flabby lately — less toned than I was during marathon training, and significantly weaker. The heavy weights are feeling heavier and everything just feels a tad more difficult, like, you know, walking up those dang subway stairs every morning. But I can eat well today, and I can eat well tomorrow, and if I don’t eat well every single day, that’s OK, too. Plus, I’m pretty sure I sweat out at least one of those peanut butter chip brownies that I ate this weekend at SoulCycle this morning. I spun my little heart out and I loved it.
I’m pretty sure no one is going to die if I don’t go home tonight and wash my dirty wine glasses. No one else will be affected if my jeans are a little tighter this week than I’d like, and I don’t think it’ll ruin your day if I cut back on my spending this month. Right?
This week I resolve to not be stressed.
I will not like myself get worked up over menial things.
I will remember that Fun Weekend Ali is so much cooler than Stressed Weekday Ali. Weekend Ali is way more popular than Stressy Ali. Stressy Ali has like, one friend. Weekend Ali has at least two.
I will now go about my week in a totally relaxed, totally chill, totally “Whatever man, I’ll get it done later” mindset. Because like that wise man Brian once said, right now is so much more important than 10 years from now.
Sounds good to me.