Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Under Pressure - 5 Ways to Find a Relief Valve Before an Explosion

It was a dark and stormy night, and as I sat there typing, I heard the sounds of footsteps in my attic.  I thought about screaming...but didn't want to scare the beejeezus out of the repairman. 

If truth be told, it was actually a bright and sunny day, and I never considered screaming, (but that really didn't make an interesting introduction).  The footsteps I heard were from the A/C guys installing a duct system to equalize the pressure in my house.  Who knew my house was under pressure?  But, I should have guessed...

Anyone who knows me will tell you I frequently walk around under pressure.  The tasks I am responsible for sometimes (read: most times) overwhelm even my best efforts.  As I fall more behind and end up doing less than my best, I start to build up pressure from stress.

Anyone who knows me will also tell you it isn't pretty when I blow up.  It is a run for cover, shield your eyes, protect the innocent, and sign up for therapy kind of moment.  I have made grown men cry, and that isn't an exaggeration.  The pressure from stress is not a good thing for me, but then again, I doubt many people really enjoy it.

As I sit here listening to the pressure equalizing work being done overhead, I realize I need to install a similar relief system on my life.  I need a way for areas of high pressure to be vented off and areas of low pressure to be combined into my daily productivity.  I need to bring down the extremes and become more functional in the middle.

What I really need is a clone.  But I am afraid that is a subject for another post...

Thinking about installing a pressure equalizing system is all well and good, but how to go about it is a tougher nut to crack.  Here are a few of my ideas.  I'm curious to know if you have any other suggestions.
  1. Do Something Calm to Balance Something Stressful.  I wish I could do this in a 1:1 ratio, but let's be honest, I would have to move to a beach hut and hire someone to convince my kids to clean their rooms if I wanted to only do one stressful thing for ever calm thing I could do.  Right now, in my life, getting my kids to bathe is a stressful event.  I think a 1:5 ratio may make more sense.  One calming activity for every 5 stressful things may work a bit better.  Somedays it may be 1:10, or 1:3, but I have to start somewhere!
  2. Chill on the Caring.  Don't get me wrong, I don't plan to tune out life, but maybe tune out little things.  I really hate watching other people make lame choices, but as I cannot be in charge of correcting every lame decision I need to back off the amount of attention I give it.  Getting all riled up over things I have no control over does nothing but increase my stress and my pressure level.  If I want to improve my equalization, I need to let other people own their personal choices.
  3. Smile and Laugh.  It is amazing how quickly laughing can relieve pressure.  One good laugh can set all sorts of things right.  When my kids dump chips on the floor, I can either giggle or get angry.  The same chip is on the floor, but I will either be stressed or not.  I must practice impromptu laughing.
  4. Delegate.  This one must be obvious, but I will explain it anyway.  I am not Super Woman.  No matter how many times I show up at the grocery store in shiny boots and a cape, I really don't have super powers.  I need to stop acting like I do!  Only taking on the tasks I have the time and brain power to handle is a good thing, but getting help when I need it is even better.  Nothing builds up stress faster than being given a problem I can't solve.  Asking for help is a quick pressure release valve that everyone should know how to access.
  5. Say No.  I have posted about this concept before, and I have been laughed at before too.  Saying no in the first place really eliminates the need to delegate later.  I am getting better.  My calendar is clearing up, and my ability to be calm is returning.  "No," really is a beautiful word.
Okay, so there is my quick and dirty list of ways to equalize the pressure in my life.  I want to hear from you.  How do you restore the balance?

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