Thursday, May 16, 2019

Stress

Yesterday I was talking about how the process of buying a house was just a teensy bit stressful for me and my Uncle Bruce said, "It doesn't have to be."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"It doesn't have to be stressful," he repeated. "Just decide that it's not."

I laughed about this because it couldn't possibly be that simple.

If there's one thing I'm good at it is stressing out about things. Like—for real, though—if you want to consider the worst case scenario on any given situation, just run it by me and I will think up some terrible things for you. I don't consider myself a pessimist—because I don't believe these worst-case things scenarios will (necessarily) happen—but I'm certainly no optimist.

I'm more of a realist.

I hope.


But if I'm being really honest, I probably am a bit of a pessimistic-realist and err on the side of tragedy (because it makes the sweet moments all the better). Pessimists are rarely disappointed.

Uncle Bruce is on the other side of a house-selling adventure currently and he spoke about his interaction with his potential buyer with a perfectly calm demeanor. He wasn't remotely frazzled and coming apart at the seams like I have been.

And, frankly, he's a very smart man so he's probably right that stress is a choice.

I read an article awhile ago that said stress negatively impacts your overall health (or life expectancy or something) more when you believe that stress is bad for your overall health (source: this isn't what I read but it was along these lines). So stress isn't necessarily bad for one's health (stress is largely unavoidable in life, so that makes sense) but believing that stress is bad for one's health is bad for one's health.

I'm not sure that it's possible to decide a situation isn't stressful (though I've been known to be wrong before—just ask Zoë) but perhaps what my uncle meant was that I can choose to not let a stressful (ie: complicated, time-consuming, time-sensitive, expensive, life-altering) situation affect me negatively. But then again, maybe you really can look at a situation that might be considered stressful and decide that...it isn't.

"Huh," I sighed when I heard him tell me that I have the power to decide whether or not a situation is stressful. And I felt my whole body relax a little bit. And it was wonderful.

I wouldn't necessarily say that finding a house has been stressful, but...my jaw was popping so badly that I could hardly eat the entire week we were gone. I'm a habitual teeth-clencher/grinder so I always wear a night guard, but I must have been clenching something fierce the week we were in Georgia. It was...painful. But it's already getting better—even by Sunday I was noticing that my jaw wasn't popping while I was chewing!

That means I've been relaxing bit by bit.

But obviously I need to do something about how I handle situations I view stressful. I need to learn to either (a) decide they're not stressful or (b) recognize that it is a stressful situation but that it doesn't have to impact me negatively.

I have a feeling this will be a steep learning curve.

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