Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Hitchiker's Guide to Stress Relief

Things that lead to stress and ways of coping with them (a work in progress):

1. “Page load error; Address Not Found”, and/or “Internet Explorer Cannot Display the Webpage”.

In a large house with concrete walls, a shoddy modem, and never-before seen metal rods which, according to Dodgy Brothers Electrical Company, lurk in our walls, reflecting wireless signals with one hand while deterring termites with the other. The occasional termite has been cited near the skirting boards, but damned if these rods will let the internet pass by undeterred. Adding to the strain, my household consists of five computers, all of which belong to a hierarchy that has relegated my unfortunate laptop to the gas pumping end of the class system.

Ways to cope:

Breathe deep. Nothing takes away that heavy pressure that this daily occurrence brings on better, than a cool, sweet, rarely-enjoyed lungful. Hyperventilation risk (or the opposite) aside, it makes me feel giddy to fill the bottom of my lungs, and to feel that novel rush of air past pursed lips. To imagine it as smoke, swirling around my keyboard, dancing in the light of the desk lamp, and being sucked back in again as I go for my next breath. Screw Internet Explorer – I’ve got pen and paper to keep me busy (or Word, as it were), and the internet’s all porn anyway. I might just take a walk instead.

2. Looming deadlines and getting snowed under.

I had hoped that the stresses which crippled my social abilities and left me sniveling in bed, willing the world to suffer some form of catastrophic disaster that would eradicate a large proportion of the human species, making my pressing issue seem less trivial, or at least rendering it invalid by the convenient deaths of everyone involved, would disappear with the completion of my bachelor’s degree. Four months after graduation, I was forced to concede that far from being caused by study, my anxiety appeared to be influenced by a distinctly less convenient source – myself. This is exacerbated by the fact that to-do lists (which I stress about completing more than any sane person would consider healthy,) are never finished. The rules of priority mean that once all the important jobs are taken care of, the older to-do lists must be dusted off, and that long-repressed guilt re-surfaces. Previously trivial matters play on your mind, such as that flagging gym membership, expired Coles Myer gift cards, the sand-riddled car floor which should have been vacuumed last summer, and those dull second cousins who you really should get around to seeing one of these days.

Ways to cope:

Write two lists. One is for everything important, putting the things that take the least amount of time at the top. If you can do it now, and it will only take a few minutes, then you should tick it off. Yes, it’s a trial to phone Optus about your change of address for the fourth time in as many months, but there are people starving in Africa who would gladly act as your personal secretary for half a cent a week, so quit procrastinating. The second list is for things that you can live without doing, and the reasons why. Will the world really stop turning if I settle for a last-minute costume for that party, instead of sewing one from scratch? Crack out the scissors and zinc – it’s high time you got creative with your ex-boyfriend’s old shirt and some unconventional make up.

To be continured...

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