I originally wanted to title this post The Okefenokee Approach to Life, or, What To Do When Feeling Swamped, but Blogger gets cranky about long titles like that one. Besides, putting the word 'diet' in a title is like calorie porn; people tend to take a second look. In all honesty, this post is mostly about lifestyle choices rather than food choices.
The Okefenokee was the biggest swamp I could think of. In addition to feeling swamped and stuck in the mud and unable to see the forest for the trees, the image also conjures up pictures of alligators waiting for the opportunity to bite my leg off. All in all, a useful metaphor for a stressed-out life.
Oil & water? Angelina & Jennifer? Stress & advice?
When I'm stressed, the last thing I want to deal with is good advice. I'm too cranky to concentrate on improving things, even the situation. I cannot process the information. It's gotten to the point when I've feeling swamped just from reading lists that give advice on how to not be swamped.
Shape Up America devoted an entire post to long detailed lists of advice on how to improve every aspect of your life. I'm sure that took quite a lot of time and research to collect all those links, but I found simply reading the list of links to be exhausting. I couldn't face actually clicking on the links and trying them out.
When I'm stressed, any solutions need to be very, very simple.
Work less, stress less, end up homeless?
A new favorite blog I've found is Unclutterer. It's big on simplicity, which is great. I can't always apply the advice to my life, but I love the ideas.
I enjoyed their review of Timothy Feriss' book "The 4-Hour Workweek." Now, clearly this is something any stressed person could benefit from. My life would be So Much Simpler if I didn't have to go to work each day. (Also I'd be back living in my mother's house and scrounging for pennies , but that's another story.) Great concept . I don't see it translating into reality any time soon, but there's no law that says I can't dream about doing this... later.
The point is to be selective about the things you do have in order to live a quality life.
Well, sheesh! That's obvious.
I mean, everybody knows that.
Even I know that.
Except for times when I'm stuck in the mud and can't see the forest for the alligators, then I tend to forget the obvious and concentrate on the stressors.
Putting the Me into happy medium
It's not always the amount of stuff that I have to do that stresses me out, it's the ratio of Hafta to Wanna. Taking a few minutes for myself, like the Happiness Project's eight tips for making yourself happier in the next hour, restores the sense of proportion to the workload. Doesn't reduce the amount of work I have to do, but makes it easier to deal with, delegate, or rationalize it away.
The Okefenokee Diet: A Minimalist Approach
- My prescription for living a less-stressed-but-still-employed life is as follows: when swamped, either push back, cut back, or have a Me attack.
- Go for minimalist veggies, i.e. I eat food that I can grab on my way out the door: bananas, pre-washed carrots, even dried fruit or a can of V-8.
- Instead of a glass of wine at the end of the day to relax, use the time to start planning what I want out of my life. Figure out a way to have a four-hour work week...
- Instead of comfort food, I want to do something for myself once a day. Something either fun or self-fulfilling.
- Set limits on how much crap I will take in one day. Most stressful is having several people pile things on my back. One manager I can
traindeal with, three or four bossy bosses... no. This is the tricky part. If you bitch too loud, you'll end up on the street. If you bitch too little, you can get overloaded, stress out, and end up in a room with padded walls.
"I have learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back." -Maya Angelou
How do you juggle stress and a healthy diet without dropping one or the other?
Or perhaps I should ask instead, do you juggle stress and a healthy diet?