One rare quiet evening, I turn on the news and Diane Sawyer tells me I'm the most stressed-out person in the country. OK, not only me, but women my age (ahem) juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. Finally, someone notices. Someone important who just may be able to help, right?
I'm intrigued. This new year, my resolution has been to de-stress. So I weigh several options.
According to my ally, Diane, the goal is health care. If I simply took better care of myself, I could find peace and add years to my life. Apparently, my grandmother's generation knew this, but forgot to mention it. Or else my peers and I have squandered our health for expanded goals, dreams and obligations.
But it isn't too late. I listen intently for Diane's wise words on how to accomplish good health and reduce stress. Unfortunately, she is drowned out by my cat meowing underfoot and the oven timer going off. Then, my husband arrives home and things get busy. But I think about the story's point.
Yes, I admit I neglect my own health. Case in point... I make sure my daughters see the dentist every six months. I take time off work to get them there. Please don't ask, though, about the last time I visited one. I might have to dig out a day planner from a couple years back.
How hard can proper health care be? I have a doctor, a treadmill, plus cumulative knowledge and experience that some food isn't good for me. I know how to make appointments, exercise daily and make good choices on what goes into my mouth.
I could aim for better wellness, but the truth is it takes time. I have to plan and think more. Sounds somewhat counterintuitive to achieving a stress-free life.
Maybe the real secret is more vacation. Recently, even as work projects loomed, I took some accumulated time off. If I hadn't left, the economy might have improved from my sacrifice. However, my productivity and morale would have inevitably spiraled down.
I spent the first few days feeling guilty that I didn't have a hundred reasons to get up in the morning. I had to stop myself from making household chore lists. Eventually, I remembered that lounging is relaxing and addictive. I got used to staying up late reading, going for long walks and having absolutely nothing to do.
If I am going to resolve something, could it be to capture that down-time feeling all year long? In reality, the result of time off is that it always ends. As a working mother with a multi-generational family, I know full well that life goes in fast forward. Taking a breath is a luxury. So much for that plan.
Perhaps I could merely purge my to-do list. That rascal is too long with scribbles taunting me to "buy that thing on the website" or "clean the lower drawer." Some tasks are ancient, and I no longer remember what they even mean. Much probably will never get done, yet I let these things prey on my mind.
I'm sure fame has its own stressors, but does Diane with her worry-free smile have to plan healthy meals or schedule the carpet cleaning? Somehow I don't think so. It's possible the route to a stress-free life is a great assistant. I already hear my husband saying, "no chance, dear."
De-stressing is too stressful. Finally, here is what I decide. I resolve to embrace life's challenges. To look at each chore, like scheduling a physical, as part of the foundation of happiness. To embrace failures as evidence of being a real person (who did have a piece of pie last night). To concentrate on the joy of living and give myself a break.
That's it. Now I have a chance at realizing my new year goal. But just in case, wish me luck.