Dumping The Stress Out With The Garbage

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. ~Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

I have always been the type of person that if something needed to be done, I felt I had to take care of it that very minute. I thought that was called responsibility. I was so very wrong. It was called being a control freak. Learning to let go, kick my feet up, and relax has been one of the hardest skill I‘ve almost mastered. Yes, it is a work in progress. I might do things I deem higher on the ladder of importance and let the housework or laundry go an extra few days. I guess I’ve learned to prioritize and evaluate. This has lessened my headaches and heartaches and probably saved my sanity.

It drives me crazy to watch how calm, cool, and non-rushed my husband and sons are. And sometimes, it totally pisses me off that they don’t think certain things are as important as I do. And other times, I am jealous that I obviously lack the ability to think and function in a nonchalant manner. However, I know they are healthier for it. Sometimes, I feel like I am always lighting a fire under somebody’s rear to get things done. Their reluctance could be a result of my micromanaging the house and everyone’s lives. Yes, I do see that. It is a serious flaw of mine, and I swear to you I am working hard on changing it. I feel I am succeeding in small steps.

I try to slow down and take things one moment at a time instead of approaching them in a panicked manner. I have also started a process I will call “selective stressing”, and so far it is working for me. I used to be the type of person that I worried about everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. I worried about what people thought of me, what choices my kids would make in certain situations, whether my husband and kids were safe almost every moment of every day. I was a constant worrier. I fretted about remembering to pick the kids up on time, showing up for appointments on time, remembering birthdays, buying the right presents, fixing a dinner that everyone enjoyed, saying the right thing to the right person at the right time….I was in a constant state of stress. I worried about the children’s grades, my husband’s job, my job, the economy, my parents health, home repairs…the list was endless.

Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life. ~Terri Guillemets

I have allowed stress to invade my life. I’ve allowed it to push me to anger and resentment. I’ve lashed out and struck out at those I love the most in life. Why them? Probably because I know they love me enough to put up with my crap. I don’t really know how much my stress level and depression correlated, but I will say that in tackling depression, it altered my stressors in a positive way. As my faith grew, I practiced what I call letting go and letting God. I started handing over things that I couldn’t control. However, the real test came in refusing to pick the garbage back up.

Our lives have become so busy, I think we find it difficult to breathe at times. My mother’s generation was considered the tranquilizer generation, and mine is considered the antidepressant generation. Sometimes, these are needed for chemical imbalances and sometimes we feel we need them to just cope with all the stress from too much to do and time restraints. I often wonder how it would work out if we followed the suit of other countries that closed down their businesses for afternoon siestas. I don’t think it would solve the world’s problems, but it sure would solve some of mine. Or at least, it would help my attitude. And you know they say attitude is everything!

Give your stress wings and let it fly away. ~Terri Guillemets

I try not to worry about things I can’t control. Worry does not get anything done. It only hurts my own health and my attitude in response to my stress is damaging to my family and friends. I can only control my actions and my thoughts. I don’t waste time and energy on other people’s business now. I have come to the realization that whatever happens is going to happen. I can’t hold my children’s hands throughout their day and force them to make decisions I consider correct. I can only lay the foundation and pray they make the right ones. I know that bad things happen and our responses and lessons taken from the experience are what is going to matter in situations we can’t control. I know that if I forget a birthday, don’t make it to an appointment on time, or fail to make it to the grocery store or vacuum the house the world will not end.

There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

A long hot soak usually makes things much better for me. I end my day with a very hot relaxing, quiet bath. I calm my mind, soothe my soul, and relax my body. This is my rejuvenation period. I am not on a time allotment for this self treat. I do it right at the moment I want. If I feel like I need this at seven instead of ten at night, I do it right then. Even if it doesn’t melt my troubles away, I am stress-free for that period of time. And somehow, once I step out of that bath, whatever was bothering me doesn’t seem quite as large and overbearing. This is a gift I give myself. It is priceless. I tend to think I am self-sacrificing at times, but I admit this is my time and no one in my house interferes. So, I guess in a sense, it is also their gift to me.

Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way. ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I’d Like to Give to You

65 thoughts on “Dumping The Stress Out With The Garbage

  1. Preach it girl!!! Baths…instant serenity…

    Yes, the picking it back up part is the hardest…letting it go and leaving it there..Period!

  2. I thought I worried, but you my friend surely do need to work on chilling out. I find prayer walks do miracles for me, and when I come back my family is much happier with me. LOL

  3. CALGON TAKE ME AWAY! See?? Didn’t work again! Dang…

    I wish taking a long hot bath did the trick but it usually made it worse because then I worried I was taking too long! I do occasionaly enjoy my jacuzzi NOW…that I CAN relax some. Long walks seem to work for me though. That is my thinking ME time.

  4. Oh dear god, you might as well have been tallking about me in this post, because I tend to be the same way.

    And it’s true…it all stems from being a control freak.

    However, I learned this lesson (and am still learning this lesson) years and years ago, when my life suddenly fell apart and had no other choice, than to do what you shared….”letting go and letting God.”

    Hey, but at least we learned, right?

    In the past several years, I’ve learned to let go of certains things and prioritize, such as yourself. Isn’t age and wonderful thing?

    Great post, SC! I love the little quotes you shared between each paragraph!

    Have a wonderful Saturday….X

  5. Hmm..I think I recognise much of this! It has serious health implications (I should know) so you’re absolutely right to train yourself to let go of things you can’t control, not sweat the small stuff …and to have a warm bath to help you unwind.

  6. have a little more faith in yourself…
    be gentle yourself when life is tough…
    I love baths….I used to take long showers…once when I was studying in USA , away from home, I took at least 7 daily showers…really helped me so much….
    you are truly a special kind of lady, Suzi..

  7. Good for you for setting up your own Me time (a nice, hot, relaxing bath!!) because so many of us are so busy putting others first that we never get around to taking care of ourselves, myself included! I always say that in order for me to be a good wife and mommy, I have to be good to myself first.

  8. I love that quote you quoted from Terri Guillemets. I believe that modern life lends to a very much more stressful life.

    I think that some of us need to practice be less stressed. This is a great post. I can relate. I think that I am better about not stressing about every little thing. Sometimes I still get stressed over the little things, but it is not EVERY one. For me letting go and being less stressed is a practice, something I will continue to work on and improve.

    It is fabulous that you have a tool (baths) that help you. Some people meditate, practice yoga, run, jog, I do Nia. It is a very calming form of exercise — even though it can get your heart rate up.

    Thank you for this post. I like to hear that other people stress over things too (to know I am not the only one)—AND better yet, they have found away to learn to let go.

    • It’s always good to have a way to relax. My friend in coming back from LA area and she is going to teach me the basics of yoga so we can do a yoga class together. Maybe I will finally learn to unclutter my mind. Sometimes it’s like a gerbil on one of those wheels.

  9. It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to let go of the stress, even if it sometimes rears its ugly head. And it’s very good to have some alone, non-stress, relaxation time.

    I know where you’re coming from, since I’m a stressful person, too. It’s a hard battle to fight, isn’t it?

  10. Oh my, you know about my recent road back to happiness, so it will come as no surprise to you I am sure to know I too am a control freak and all my life have worried about just about everything. If we go on vacation I worry the alarm won’t go off in the morning, the car will break down on the way to the airport, the flight will get cancelled, you name it. It is as if, by constantly worrying over everything, I think I can then control the uncontrollable and predictable and be one step ahead, but as you so rightly say this is not possible. So now I recognize this and am working on being more relaxed about the little things, but I have a long way to go.

    So thank you for this post, as I need to do as you say, and junk the stress. I think I am going to have a little list of quotes for my day stuck to my computer screen, to repeat every morning and this will be one of them.

  11. Yes and yes, I can relate to so much of this and my old “ways”. I definitely calmed down (maybe too much). I love water. I’m not a big bath taker but swimming for me is the most relaxing, peaceful, natural existence in my world. It’s where I feel home. It’s where I think clearly. I need to get to the pool more often or maybe get a big ol’ tub. Love the quotes in between.

    • I haven’t been to a movie in ages. I do need to do that. A comedy or a romance…I can’t do high action because that will just wind me up more! Happy weekend, Jingle!

  12. Boy, do I see a lot of me in you. When I decide something needs to be done, it needs to be done at that moment. I’m not good at waiting. I used to drive everyone crazier than I do now though. The anti-depressants you mentioned totally take the edge off.

    • I just can’t stand to wait on anybody to do things for me. Yes, the antidepressants did take the edge off. However, I am glad to not be on them anymore.

  13. I do stress over stupid stuff. I can’t have an open newspaper laying on a table in the parlor. A coffee cut has to go immediately into the dishwasher. I’m fine with people I don’t know, but with my family, DO IT NOW! I know I’m being a bitch about things, but just can’t stand “mess”.

    • Isn’t it funny how it’s the little things that drive us crazy. And we do get more aggravated at our families…I think it’s because they know how we like things.

  14. Oh how true..it certainly affects us ladies much more than the guys…Ive had my share of worrying too much for the un-important things…Ive learned to write them down and throw them out…Ive learned to meditate and to slow down my rapid fire thinking…I appreciate the now and the comfort in being here and now..I love reading The Power of Now…and practicing quieting my mind….believe me… I cant do this for every issue but for the most part, I have got it in “control”..(contol again..hahah)..
    and then I also like to have a bath..with bubbles and a glass of wine…that is superb…don’t forget……Mom needs loving care, compassion and kindness too..!..isn’t that the best gift we can give our family..a happy unstressed Mother and wife..?

    • I think women do stress more because we feel we need to take care of everyone else and neglect ourselves. I like that idea of writing them down and throwing them out.

  15. I think part of this comes from being a female and mom. Typically, it is the female’s role to worry about everything while the man worries only about his job- we feel that since no one is worrying about the dishes in the sink, we should- but why?

    I think this is one issue that has ruined a lot of marriages, mostly because we women place the worrying job upon ourselves, and feel since the man (or spouse) doesn’t worry- they are taking us for granted. No, they just don’t care if the dishes are cleaned right now!~

    Glad you’re working on a healthier you!

    • I think this is why the 50’s housewives were on tranquilizers because they didn’t have outlets and the hubby didn’t haelp with the kids, cooking, or the house work. We’ve come a long way. But females still tend to stress more, not sure if we bring it on ourselves because we just can’t break that stigma.

  16. Love the quotes and your thoughts. I need to manage my stress better and reading this was helpful. I am always letting my job stress me out, and I haven’t quite mastered how to balance my need to do a good job with the need not to get stressed when there is too much on my plate. Sounds like you are doing a good job recognizing and improving!

  17. You have hit the nail on the head here SC, Stress over things we can’t control brings depression for so many people and anti-depressants are prescribed, a nice hot bath, a long walk, or sitting down to write about your past experiences and enjoy reading the same from others are excellent ways to control the stress levels, whatever works I say go for it.

    Nice Post my Friend.

  18. I like how you intersperse quotes within your essay. they seem to work both as punctuation and thematic segues. Well done! Haven’t stopped my other blog, my home projects are soaking up a big portion of my available time at the moment. Long list. Plus wedding countdown. I’m still a reader! 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by. I know you are busy. When is the big day? I will kepp checking in at your blog. I have a friend that just post when she feels like it, and it works well. I check her everyday. (I always get the email subscription notice a day late) But she usually lets me know anyway when she post. I have aroutine of blogs I check and I just keep going according to my list, if someone doesn’t post it’s ok, and if they do bonus for me. Hope all your projects are going well!

  19. I’ve always had a problem handling stress.
    Always. I try to walk it out, pray it out, sleep it out, take a shower, light a scented candle and breathe.

    I still have it.

    And I’m easily stressed, too. When I see my list of things to do, and see the housework that needs to be done, and I think of all the things I’d rather do: I get so stressed.

    Thank you for your wishes for me. Just the thought of you wanting that for me, releases some tension

    Thank you.

  20. Once again I totally identify with you. Maybe because we are in the same stage of our lives now. I too am a control freak and envy my husband and son their ability to just let things be. But I do have to say becoming ill last year has helped nudge me over to the other side. I think because I am so busy managing my disease I have learned to let the small things go. There is only so much energy one can expend on these things. And like you, I end every day with a long hot bath. It is my valium or martini…it does wonders for me.

  21. teaching has taught me to coexist with stress and to control it for the sake of productivity.your posts are really thought-provoking suzi.well done .

  22. I used to get very stressed out and worry about things, too. I’m not sure how I managed to let it all go. I think my fibro brain fog helped.

  23. I am you, you are me. I soooo get the idea that when something needs to be done it has to be done right away. I too have worked so so hard on trying not to control everything. to sit back and really think about things. My mother always tells me that my worries are pregnant with worries. I too just want to take it easy. I have some good days and others…well, it’s a journey right?

  24. hi Sweetie!

    I did read this post the other day, and actually had a mostly-composed comment on my iPhone, then had to leave for somewhere or another, and it never got posted. but… I’m back! 🙂

    In my opinion, you are an amazing wife, mother and person for working so hard on yourself, always searching within to improve you. That says so much good stuff about you.

    I just love the following part of The Rebel Manifesto over at Jungle Lance’s blog this past Sunday, in this post…


    And the quote is… “Care not for the opinions of others — they are based on their own thoughts and fears.” Oh my goodness — I LOVE that empowering thought!! I too used to care way way too much what other people thought of me, took a long time to work away from that. In some ways, I still probably am. But that quote above sings to me with truth.

    And as to… “I’ve lashed out and struck out at those I love the most in life. Why them?” I think we ALL do that. I appreciate your honesty on that, and this whole post.

    (Ii take my bath in the day, when the Child is at school and the house a quiet haven.)

    Off to read your next posts!


  25. I think I’m a lot like you in that I want stuff done RIGHT NOW and it bugs me when my husband (and kids but they’re young) don’t go along with my plans. I’ve had to let things go and just enjoy the days with the kids instead of worrying about getting the laundry folded or the house cleaned. That’s been good too. Oh, and we just hired a cleaning lady. Woot!

  26. Oh my gosh, from one control freak to another, I hear you! I also have a husband who lacks what I feel is an appropriate sense of urgency. That man will never get an ulcer. He might give me one, though.

    Good for you for getting a grip on your stress. I, too, find solace in a long, hot bath.

    Great post!

  27. Wow, great post!

    I’m a total stress-ball. And, honestly, I don’t know what my problem is … life really couldn’t be easier. Btw, your list of what you used to fret about was like my daily list of worries. The only time I feel even a tiny bit of relief is when I can actually tie on my shoes and go for a run which is, like, never. Unfortunately, there’s always something else to do! Arghhhhh!

  28. I love this: I can’t hold my children’s hands throughout their day and force them to make decisions I consider correct.

    I have never been much of a stresser except on fridays and then I call my mom for some soothing sanity.

  29. “I have always been the type of person that if something needed to be done, I felt I had to take care of it that very minute. I thought that was called responsibility. I was so very wrong. It was called being a control freak…I feel like I am always lighting a fire under somebody’s rear to get things done.”

    Beloved to a T. And yes, he’s working on it. He’s gotten MUCH better about it since I’ve known him.

    “I worried about what people thought of me, what choices my kids would make in certain situations, whether my husband and kids were safe almost every moment of every day…I fretted about remembering to pick the kids up on time, showing up for appointments on time, remembering birthdays, buying the right presents, fixing a dinner that everyone enjoyed, saying the right thing to the right person at the right time…”

    And that right there is me. And I’ve gotten a lot better about it since I’ve known Beloved.

    We’re obviously good for each other.

  30. I hear where you came from. I tend to hear all the things my wife worries about and wonder how she can let some of those things go. If it’s in the evening, I tell her to set those worries down on the nightstand– it’ll be there in the morning.

    I really like the concept of stress being trash. Many of us need to learn how to take out the trash.

    Thank you for your spin,

  31. I used to take a nice long hot bubble bath every Sunday night – armed with candles, wine and a good book. It was a great stress-reliever and got me mentally ready for the week ahead…I stopped doing that for some reason after Princess Nagger was born. I might have to start that back up again because it really does make a difference! 🙂 Great Spin! 🙂

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