Ten months ago, I wrote a list of things that stress me me as I hurtle towards the big 4-0.
A lot has changed in that time – I’ve moved from a big city to a small town, acquired a slightly friendlier black cat and completely altered my work pattern.
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook how lots of small changes can add up to one massive change.
So even though it’s been less than a year, I thought I’d compare what stressed me 10 months ago with the things that stress me now and see if anything has changed.
The original list is in black, new list items are in blue and the entire list is in no particular order.
1.Living in London
2.Working in London
3.Commuting in London
I don’t live in London anymore, hooray! I totally understand that for many people, London is an active melting pot of all things cool and exciting but it’s just not for me.
Too many people, too many buildings, too much grey, too much of a commute, just too much of everything.
The reason it works for so many people is exactly why it doesn’t work for me.
I was fortunate enough to move to a small town which is surrounded by lots of green. I don’t have to go far to see fields and cows and pigs and it’s just wonderful.
It’s much more me and I can’t tell you how much it impacts every other part of my world.
What you surround yourself with is as important as who you surround yourself with.
No matter how difficult it is to change your situation, it will always be easier than trying to change yourself to fit with an environment that doesn’t fit with who you are.
4.Having an unfriendly black cat
Still a cause of stress but that’s because he was sick for 7 weeks at the start of the year. Since then, the vet has prescribed a course of Prozac.
It seems to be working albeit with small changes, nothing huge. A work in progress and a long-term cause of stress as we try to reduce his anxiety levels but one that is improving.
5.Negative quips about being vegetarian
If I’m honest, I don’t encounter this as much as I did. Mostly it came from colleagues I no longer work with and family members who I see infrequently. However, it does still come up whenever I do meet with them.
I’m not sure that the comments are meant to be negative but there is ALWAYS a conversation about the food I’m eating. I feel ‘different’ and that I’m being ‘awkward’.
I choose to be vegetarian for ethical reasons, rather than health reasons and that’s not a conversation most people want to have. Which is fine.
But even within the past month, I’ve been asked where I get my protein from. (Here’s a good answer)
6.Managers not understanding the word ‘management’
I’m not currently surrounded by managers so I suppose strictly speaking, this should no longer appear on this list.
But the memory is not yet old enough to be remembered without a certain amount of accompanying stress.
Put a different way, I find it very hard to work with people who have been promoted due to their length of service rather than any actual competency. This is often due to the rules set by HR.
I could write an entire post on my thoughts relating to the HR profession but I don’t think my blood pressure could take it.
7.People believing exactly what the news tells them without question
Gosh, where do I even begin? I’m as guilty as anyone of operating within the echo chamber – my Twitter feed often reflects my leanings on politics, religion and social discourse but that shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
We all do it.
It’s easy to believe what we’re told when the message is one we want to hear. But most of this is interpretation of the facts.
Something I try to do – and must do more of – is remember that very often the ‘news’ that is being fed to me is just that; interpretation. Not facts.
I live in Salisbury. According to the newspapers, this is currently a ghost town.
That’s not my experience – if there hadn’t been a story in the news, I wouldn’t have any idea something had happened.
So if the media has distorted something to the point that the ‘facts’ do not equate with my own experience, what about all the things I’m told are true that I don’t have any experience of?
When I hear someone blindly repeating what the mainstream media/social media has presented to them with no hint of challenge, it stresses me.
That’s why it’s so easy to perpetuate the false belief that we live in the most dangerous times ever known whilst ignoring those who really are suffering. Although, according to this article, the echo chamber may be just an unfounded myth.
Hmm, this seems to have turned into a bit of a rant. #sorry, not sorry
Lunch does still stress me but I’ve found a way to manage it – by having dinner at lunch time instead.
I find if I eat my main meal in the middle of the day then I don’t really need to eat again.
Which means I don’t need to come up with ideas for a meal that just irritates me. Problem solved, stress levels reduced!
9.Crowds/groups of people
Yep, still stressful. Always has been, always will be.
10.Visiting the monster-in-law
See previous comment. Combined with number 5.
11.The assumption that being related to someone means you have to accept them
Just because you share a miniscule amount of DNA with someone doesn’t mean you will automatically like them.
Ask the Plantagenets. Wasn’t true then, isn’t true now.
This is even less true if you marry someone. You have married an individual, not the family.
I am fully aware that lots of people disagree with this.
I don’t think I’m alone in this though. The saying, ‘You can choose your friends but not your family’ came from somebody somewhere for a reason. I’m with them.
12.Taking the car to the garage
I know nothing about cars. This is obvious to the casual observer, much less a mechanic. I worry that as I approach them, they can’t see me for all the £ signs in the way.
13.Anything involving the vet
We have a really good vet. I just don’t want to see him.
14.Meeting a personal trainer for a consultation
I know a really great personal trainer. His approach is unconventional. I suspect it probably works. And yet, I don’t really want to see him either.
15.Being weighed at the GPs
16.Making phone calls
17.Answering phone calls
I just don’t like the phone. Don’t get me wrong, I can do it. In fact, if I didn’t tell you it stressed me, you would never know. All I’m saying is … email me.
18.Very hot, sunny days
Yes, I know, this makes me really weird. I just like the rain. Hate being cold but love the rain.
A really hot, sunny day means I feel very down and don’t want to leave the house. But sometimes I think maybe I have the reverse form of SAD.
I can’t explain it. Bright warm days are fine. Hot and sunny are not. Go figure.
See previous rant at item 7.
20.Social events of any nature
I do struggle with anything that means meeting new people for the first time.
As an example, last week I attended a book club meeting. It hadn’t met before. Nobody knew anybody else. I still spent 5 minutes in the car psyching myself up before walking through the door.
Predictably, it was absolutely fine. It’s well known that it’s the ‘what-if’ worry about a future event that causes far more stress than the event itself ever does.
21.Eating with braces
I don’t have braces anymore so this isn’t an issue. I still have wonky teeth which is nothing short of infuriating but I can eat so in the grand scheme of things, nothing to stress over.
22.Being accused of selfishness when choosing not to conform ‘out of duty’
A post for another day.
I’m not sure how one place can accommodate both people living perfect lives and people who can only write negative comments targeting other simultaneously.
And yet, Facebook operates within this niche marvellously. When a person’s self-worth can be altered by the number of ‘Likes’ they receive, we’re in a dangerous place.
I know I’m not going to win any awards for writing any time soon. There’s not much of a filter between my brain and my keyboard.
This blog isn’t polished and oftentimes can border on the inarticulate. I find writing/blogging hard and I’m pretty sure it shows.
It’s kind of stressful to not be very good at something that you actually want to be good at. Practice and all that…
I loathe cooking with a passion. Others talk of its ‘therapeutic’ benefits.
Even Mr Annette knows that kitchen is not the place to be if I’m in it.
However, we have started using a meal delivery service which provides all the ingredients you need for set recipes, in the exact quantities required.
I still don’t like cooking but when much of the prep is done for you the stress of it all is significantly reduced.
If you hate cooking too, I’d definitely recommend looking into alternatives, they do help.
A source of stress since I was 11 years old. Horrendous acne until my twenties, only to be replaced by an incessant number of broken capillaries as an adult.
My face is naturally red all the time because of this and I’m not a ‘cake-face’ makeup type. It just means my skin never looks clear.
This affected my confidence at 11 and still does to this day.
27.Finding pet-friendly landlords
Knowing that nobody would rent to us with lots of cats, when we moved, we bought. I realise how fortunate I am to be in this position and having a mortgage comes with its own peculiar stress-factors but a landlord isn’t one of them.
28.Not being able to make lists
The answer is to always have a pen and paper within arms’ reach. Failing that, WorkFlowy is doing a pretty good job and is worth checking out if you’re a lists person too. (Although I’ll always prefer the old-fashioned way.)
29.Charity adverts on TV
Is it me or are these becoming more prolific?
I do give time and money to causes that I want to support but there are more of them than there are of my resources.
All the adverts do is tell me how pathetic my efforts are.
So now I just mute them, switch channels and continue to do my best, regardless of whether it’s good enough.
30.Being near an ashtray
This goes back to childhood. I’ve always hated the smell of smoke and it’s never changed. Ashtrays just make me feel ill.
That’s not to make anyone feel offended or maligned, it’s just a physical reaction I’ve had since I was very young and I doubt it will ever change.
Spreadsheets are incredibly clever, incredibly powerful tools.
But they are like Excaliber – they can only be used by the chosen. And that is a destiny meant for people who aren’t me.
32.Not being able to go to bed when I choose
I need downtime. Lots of it. Going to bed early is something I’m learning to appreciate the older I get.
If I’m visiting people, or they are visiting me, it’s considered impolite to go to bed early.
Which means my routine is altered and I get less sleep. It’s a lose-lose situation.
I know it’s a good day when I’m in bed by 9.30pm.
33.Entering a restaurant for the first time, not knowing where the toilets are
Is there anyone who isn’t stressed if they don’t know where the toilets are?
34.Walking in icy/snowy conditions
I live in the UK. It’s simply not in my DNA to know how to cope with more than 6 snowflakes at a time.
Anything with more than 4 legs or less than 2 simply cannot be trusted. Avoid at all costs.
36.Unplanned free time
I like lists. I plan. Don’t give me time that isn’t planned for.
37.Sharing a bed with other humans (cats are fine, obvs)
I sleep diagonally. Ain’t no bed made for two and sleeping diagonally.
38.Driving on narrow roads/country lanes with a car behind me
Just because you know the road and can go at 60mph doesn’t mean I can. Back off.
Well, that’s 6 crossed off the list. But the title of this post is 39 things that stress me and there are always things to add. Although the following aren’t necessarily ‘stressful’ and more ‘irksome’.
33a.Babies or toddlers crying, especially on public transport.
This does genuinely stress me, sometimes to the point of tears. I can’t tell you why, just that the noise goes through me and I can’t out-think it.
34a.Leaving the house when I have an outbreak of coldsores.
35a.Having my photograph taken
36a.Animal cruelty of any kind
To say this is stressful would be the biggest understatement ever.
Put it this way, I know I’m not a pacifist because of my thoughts on this subject.
I long for the day when we (humans) recognise that this world is out privilege and we share it with other species.
We don’t own it, we don’t own them and if you disagree with this statement then please feel free to never visit this blog again, it’s not written for you.
37a.Applying for conventional jobs
I don’t have a conventional job history. Trying to pretend I do just to complete a form is agonising.
Which is why I don’t.
38a.Taking practical exams
I’ve just started a course in reflexology. I don’t worry about the theoretical elements but when I come to be assessed on the practical…?
39. Worrying about what others think
I’m working on this but it’s early days. It’s always bothered me what other people think of me. Yes, I know it shouldn’t. But it does.
I think the answer lies in being very particular in who you surround yourself with and making sure that you only have people in your life that fit with the values that you live by.
Another post for the future I think.
Well, that is a pretty full on list of things that stress me out. Some are minor inconveniences, others can have me want to stay in bed for days on end. I’ve developed coping strategies for most of them, some full-formed, others a work in progress.
Do you identify with any of these – what are some of the things that stress you out?
And how have you learned to deal with them?
Are there any strategies you think I should try to help with some of the above?
I’d love to hear your thoughts – let me know in the comments below.