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Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Why I'm a Stressaholic

It's summer. It's supposed to be a time of relaxation, of unwinding with family and friends. People are supposed to be sitting poolside by day, sipping cocktails on the porch while the kids chase fireflies by night.

Or so I hear.

Lately, I've noticed in myself a complete inability to just chill the heck out. My mind's always racing.
You might think I'm listening to my kids tell me how many dandelion seeds they just blew all over the yard, but really I'm mentally prioritizing the list of things I need to do when I get back to the computer.
It might look like I'm making dinner, but really I'm trying to write an article in my head in the hopes I'll still remember it after I wash the raw chicken off my hands.
Did I order those water shoes we're going to need at the lake? I'd better remember to check in with that client I'm making graphics for. What? BlogHer'13 is in less than three weeks?!?!? Forget about sleep, I have to pack!

I have a feeling maybe some of you can relate. I wrote about why I think I'm addicted to stress, and why I kind of hope there's no cure, over on In The Powder Room, but they kindly allowed me to repub the article here:

No time to talk, I'm busybusybusy! There are so many things on my agenda, I need lists to organize my lists. And if I overlook one thing — if a single task goes undone or email unanswered or tweet untweeted — do you have any idea what would happen? Do you? DO YOU???

Oh, right. Probably nothing.

So why does it feel like five minutes of slacking would crack open the very Earth itself, causing lava to spew forth and probably singe my precious to-do list, resulting in some horrible unnamed consequence because the burned part happened to contain the last two digits of someone's phone number I was supposed to call about a play date?

Maybe I’m just being considerate, lest others be somehow inconvenienced if I let my obligations slide. Maybe I’m just being responsible. Maybe if one tiny, insignificant detail slips my mind I'll inevitably forget bigger things, like the mortgage or my kids' birthdays.

Then again, maybe I’m just a stressaholic.

There’s a weird euphoria I get from obsessing over a task and then slowly, deliciously, with great satisfaction, crossing it off the list. As a matter of fact, if I do something I hadn’t planned, I’ve been known to add it to my list just so I can cross it off. “You unloaded the dishwasher? That isn't even on the schedule, you over achiever! Here’s your reward…" <<scribbles, crosses off scribbles>>

Ohhhhhhh, yeah. It feels that good, the stress-relief high I get from completing a task and putting the thought of it behind me.

Of course, then I just start stressing out about the next thing.


And there’s always a next thing.


I’m guessing stress is more unhealthy than eating a pound of saturated fat while huffing rubber cement in a tanning bed. Yet the only time I can relax and think about how nice it would be to quit all this nonsense and just… relax, is when I’m basking in endorphin rush of finishing a big project. It reminds me of how effortless the decision to quit smoking always was — as long as I was in the process of stubbing out a cig. In that moment, my craving satisfied, I could easily imagine never needing it again. But catch me five minutes later, and I was already jonesing for my next fix.


Three years ago, I actually did quit smoking. Wait, hold your applause — I had my last cigarette on the day I was admitted to the hospital with heart trouble, at the age of 34. I’m not saying smoking caused it, but it sure didn’t help. As I thought about my family (and considered the fact that I couldn't smoke in the #@*% hospital anyway), making the decision to quit for good finally was easy.


Yay, a new, healthier me!


Now if you'll excuse me, I have to cross writing this article off my list.


Ohhhhhhh, yeah.


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