“How are you?” says Person A.
“Busy” says Person B, in a frenzied state of self absorption assuming everyone else in the world is currently managing only one task at a time and taking breaks to eat bonbons.
Oh, and person B in this scenario is me.
Welcome to the Stress Nest
I think a lot of us find ourselves in Person B’s well worn Payless flats though.
It’s a fast-moving, multi-tasking, eating standing up world and we’re along for the ride. I’ve been trying really hard not to answer “busy” though because unless Person A is a close personal friend or relative the only answer they are really expecting to “How are you?” is “Good!” and I like people to feel comfortable small talking with me.
And more importantly, something about the word “busy” feels relative. Like it’s not just busy, but busier than you. And that’s not cool. Because we’ve all had those weeks (months… yikes) when it seems like you need to Dolly the sheep yourself in order to accomplish a tenth of the things you want and need to do.
Or days on the stress scale of 1 to “Oh, I’m definitely going to cry today” that look like this:
So instead of wallowing in my stressedness, I’m going to assume that you are also incredibly busy and are reading this as a quick reprieve from many important things that need your attention. And if you are here, your destresser might be laughter. Hey – me too! Let’s laugh about busyness.
That’s Not What You Want
Busyness has had some unexpected physical consequences for me lately. At a recent appointment, my dentist said, “Hmmm it appears that you have been clenching your teeth a lot. You’ve even created new bones in your mouth from the pressure… Anything stressful going on in your life?
To which I replied, “I have two kids, a full-time job, and the This is Us season finale led me to believe that something terrible is going to happen to Randall Pearson’s family.”
She replied, “Yeah… so we might give you a night mouth guard, but since those are terrible and it seems like you might need to sleep just try sticking your tongue between your teeth when you feel like you are going to clench your teeth.”
In other news, I no longer have a tongue.
Making Me Time
Shortly following the dentist appointment this happened
“Mommy, you looked wrecked.” – My 3 y/o at 5:30am pic.twitter.com/aj1UvPO77z
— Becca Carnahan (@with_love_becca) March 28, 2018
This led me to believe I was due for a little self-care. But when? My first thought was, “Oh, I know! I have some ‘me time’ coming up. My yearly gynecological exam.” But even that got canceled. This is why we can’t have nice things.
So instead I microwaved myself a nice lunch. Leftover chicken marsala. Which I cut up as if I was a toddler so that I could eat it quickly and with one hand while typing emails. #Relaxing
Oh, and I took a hot ten-minute shower and used fancy conditioner. A sample pack of fancy conditioner. And I didn’t even really read the directions because you were supposed to leave it in for fifteen minutes apparently and then rinse.
Fifteen minutes, just for conditioner?? That doesn’t even compute. Is it designed for people with a hefty trust fund? It was still nice though. I smelled like a B level celebrity on Dancing with the Stars.
The Pinching Trick
Given my current mental state of affairs, I thought I’d share my mom’s trick to help me when I’m in a whirling, twirling, stress spiral crying on the kitchen floor.
When I’ve really gone down the rabbit hole she tells me to breath into a paper bag, but if she catches me before I go all Alice she tells me to pinch my leg. Hard. And focus on it.
I think it works for a couple of reasons.
1. You are forcing your mind to focus on a physical act instead of the one million thoughts ricocheting through your brain. Brain, move hand.
2. If you do it right it really friggin hurts and then you’re mad instead of anxious.
This is not medical advice in the least but it’s a good stopgap. For actual medical advice, because anxiety is very, very real, check in with your doctor. It’s okay not to feel okay.
I Guess That’s My Church
Beyond leg pinching and eating copious amounts of sugar, I have realized that when I get super busy and all kinds of stressed, I really do need to take a break. And my favorite way to shake my worries out is some comedy. Either I try to make myself laugh by writing or watch the pros do their thing. A half-hour of stand up comedy is a game-changer for me. It’s a much-needed reset button.
May I make some recommendations? The Stand Ups on Netflix is giving me life. Fortune Feimster OWNS. Brent Morin made me cry laugh. Nate Bargatze’s bit on buying a hammock added three years to my life.
Also hilarious, Joel McHale on the Joel McHale Show by Joel McHale. Abort mission on reading this and go get your Netflix on. I won’t even be offended.
Not Too Busy for a Takeaway
Career development tip on this one? You need to take care of yourself. We aren’t all our jobs. Or all our homes. You’re going to be the best version of yourself if you embrace your whole self.
Plus, the busyness will still be there in a half-hour. Promise.
With a sinking feeling that I forgot to do something important,