Hissy Fit - February 2023 - Who Stresses You Out? You Stress You Out!

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


February 2023 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

Life deals out situations that can be stressful. Maybe not always quite as stressful as the last few years, but nonetheless, we all experience ups and downs, of which both can heighten stress. However, there is another kind of stress we all endure—self-imposed stress. Completely unnecessary, but we do it anyway.

What? You don’t think YOU add stress to your life? Let me give you an example: When is the last time you carried only two bags of groceries—one in each hand— into the house after shopping? Probably when you only bought two bags of groceries. Otherwise, you more than likely attempt to carry most of them at once, which is stressful. Carrying all those bags at once creates pain and chaos, thus escalating stress and frustration! And, for what? To avoid that dreadful 23-foot walk back and forth to your car?

Instead, we choose to mar our arms with beet red indentions, practically cutting off circulation to our fingers, fumbling with our keys to unlock the door, usually dropping something—more than likely the eggs—in all the drama. You know the drill. If you want to reduce self-imposed stress, just resolve to make a few trips back and forth to the car, and though you may have to walk a little more, it will be peaceful, without pain and stress. Isn’t that better? Take a breath. Inhale. Exhale. Feel the stress go. Watch your fingers regain color.

Looking to weed out more self-induced stress? Try not to overbook yourself. Having to race from task to task creates anxiety, and anxiety is a level of stress no-one wants to deal with. It can ruin your day. Seriously, you have the option of avoiding anxiety if you just pay attention to your body. When I pile my schedule so full I can’t complete one task before the next one starts, or I run late everywhere I go, it puts me into a tizzy that turns my mood into a ticking time bomb; my blood pressure rising as my temper runs short.

All of this is avoidable by simply not overloading yourself, whether it be at home, work, or even socially. We all need to take a breather, pull our thoughts together, reorganize ourselves, or just relax for a moment. Be sure to allow time to reboot in your schedule, even if it is brief. A 10-minute power nap can change your day! Any small step toward reducing stress that you can control is a step in the right direction.

Not to embarrass anyone, but here is another stressful thing we ladies do: We don’t go to the bathroom when we need to; we hold it until it’s convenient, we have time, or so we don’t interrupt anyone. Not only can this cause urinary tract infections, but it also causes unnecessary stress. If you have to go to the bathroom, by all means stop what you are doing and go!

If you, or someone you love, is that person who wants to travel by getting there as fast as possible, meaning very few or no bathroom breaks, be sure to have a conversation before you leave the house. Perhaps decide to leave an hour earlier so bathroom breaks do not delay your expected arrival time. Explain to your speed racer how important it is to take care of your health, and then don’t take no for an answer. Good Lord, who really in their right mind makes people hold it just because they are in some over-frenzied state of getting there? Stop often, and as Charmin advises: “Enjoy the go!”

My last stress reference story on this issue I consider a real doozy—an experience I’ll never forget! Once upon a time, when I was young, my family was out for a relaxing and enjoyable Sunday drive in the country with no destination and no time constraint. It was Mom, Dad, my sister, who is seven years older than me, and our standard poodle, Fifi. However, when Fifi started passing gas—and we all smelled it— my mother told my father to pull over so the dog could go out. My father refused, and with that bad decision, we became a traveling circus.

You guessed it! Fifi pooped on the back seat between me and my sister—bless her heart (I’m referring to the dog). My sister’s solution was to roll down her window and hang her body out the car while screaming. My solution was to vomit. My mother’s solution was to scream at my father and threaten him if he didn’t pull the car over. My father’s solution? Who knows what he was thinking.

Of course, Mom had one used Kleenex in her purse to clean up the entire mess. I stood in a peach orchard on the side of the road while my sister yelled at me for vomiting. And, to think, this hall-of-fame-level of self-induced stress could have been completely avoided if only Dear Old Dad would have pulled over.

Do yourself a favor, and quit voluntarily adding to your stress. If you can head it off at the pass, do so immediately. If you think it will be hard, stay calm, and think of Fifi, my mother and that one Kleenex. It’s enough to change your world.