Stop and think for a minute.
How much of that stress is real?
How many of those deadlines are your own creation?
Why are you stressed? Do you fear what might happen if you don’t accomplish things?
What is there really to worry about?
How often do you automatically start stressing about something as soon as it is planned? If you’re having house guests, do you immediately begin worrying about getting your house ready? If you’re planning a trip, do you start worrying about all the details the minute you decide to go?
I recently figured out that roughly 99.5% of the stress in my life is totally my own creation. Let me explain how I figured it out.
Recently, my husband went on a trip to Africa. That’s a long way to go. The trip was a year in the planning and lasted just over 3 weeks. I watched him scrambling to get things ready. The 2 weeks before the trip he was very much absorbed in getting all the last details ready. I sat back and watched, all the time thinking I was glad it wasn’t me that was stressing about the trip.
I had my own plans for the time he was gone. I had a lofty list of goals: clean the house, turn the upstairs alcove into a reading/music area, do some serious decluttering, redecorate in the bedroom. All while getting out on my own and with girl friends.
Perhaps you’re already seeing what I finally had to come to terms with. I was setting myself up for failure by trying to do too much.
I started out on track, until I added to the list by having a retreat at my house. Retreats On The Go was a wonderful time, but it involved getting much of my house clean in just a few days. At the same time that I was cleaning, I had a few other things going on. So the stress was already building. Towards the end of that first full week, as the retreat approached, I had to reprioritize my cleaning plan. I was not going to do the ‘top-to-bottom’ cleaning of that much house in that amount of time. Stress that had built up began to dissipate for a bit. By Friday afternoon, I was able to relax.
The second weekend was perfect. It involved retreats and celebration that I’ve talked about before. I had ordered a new comforter and shams for our bedroom. It arrived that weekend too.
The second week was when the pressure began to mount. The list of things I had to do was growing. I went shopping two days that week to find the perfect pillows and picture for the bedroom. The first trip resulted in a migraine from a shop full of scented candles. That migraine wasn’t too terrible, but it’s effects lingered.
I decided that I would make the pillows, knowing it would be faster and less leg work than shopping for days and days. I used to be a marathon shopper but no longer have that patience.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that I just added to my list – making pillows.
All those pillows needed to be done by the time my husband got back. Yes, more stress. BUT, who decided that schedule?
In the end, five of the pillows were completed on time.
I also ordered a picture from an artist friend. I figured I had ordered it too late to get here in time, but decided I would just have to live with that.
Did I mention rain? Much of Texas got rain the entire time my husband was gone. And that’s on top of rain we had earlier. My husband flew out of Houston’s airport so I had to drive him there. Because of flooding, we had to go a different route to get to his friend’s house. So I was watching the weather in Houston the week he was to return. Because… I needed to drive over there again to pick him up.
The rains came. The flooded road in Houston that had reopened was closed again. And still the rains came. So that entire week, as I’m stressing to get things done, I’m also stressing about the prospect of driving 200 miles in rain and possible flooding.
Did I mention I don’t like to drive in the rain?
So that’s a lot of stress. Brought on by my own worries and fears. And in the end I realized it was only stress because of my own expectations for myself.
Here’s another reason I shouldn’t have stressed so much:
My husband was due to land in Houston on Thursday night and spend the night at his friend’s house. And I would drive to Houson on Friday. It was raining so much in Houston that his plane was rerouted to Dallas. The airline cancelled the rest of the flight. So he decided to rent a car in Dallas and drive to San Antonio. So, no trip to Houston for me. AND, the picture I ordered got here in time and was personally delivered and hung BEFORE he got home.
Here is the final product of my work. As you can see, it is definitely a stress-reducing bedroom:
I read recently that we will judge others by their actions yet we judge ourselves by our intentions. So true! Lesson learned! Actually a few of them:
- Be gentler on myself. Don’t set expectations so high that you set yourself up for stress and failure.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Trust that everything will get done at its right time
- Don’t ever worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Trust that they will work out.
I’m definitely a work in progress and am grateful for the lessons learned during my husband’s trip!