Managing your Stress, or Managing your Stress(or)

We just got back from Spokane, a city a few hours south of us, where we went for bit of a weekend getaway and some shopping.  Shopping certainly wasn’t at the top of my list, I was more the designated driver, but I did walk through the malls and do a bit of people watching.  I also bought book on writing, and a pair of noise cancelling headphones, 2 pair in fact.  I found the first ones in Radio Shack, basically the first store I looked in, and the second in Costco.  The Costco unit seemed to work better, so I got sucked in and threw them into the cart.  Now I ask you, what am I going to do with 2 pair?  Certainly didn’t save any money, now did I?

I also learned something else on this trip, besides the fact I get sucked in easily, and this may be the most important thing of all.  I learned how I can manage some of my stress, and on the surface it sounds so simple, but will it stand the test of time?

Time.  Time is actually the key, time is the point to this whole exercise. I’ll elaborate.

When we decided to go on the trip my wife asked me “what time to you want to leave?”.  I told her about 10 am (perhaps I never should have said “about”), she replied “ok, wake me at 9 am”.  I did, she got up, did this and that, and by then 10 o’clock came and went and we were bumping into the 11 o’clock hour pretty quickly.

We were finally all packed and moving toward the door when she asked me if I had shut off the computer.  No I replied, “good” she said, “I just want to check something on Google images, it’ll only take 2 seconds”.  Now I love my wife but at that comment I lost it.  “Nothing ever takes you 2 seconds” I said, and probably in volume higher than necessary.  I was so angry, so frustrated that we weren’t keeping to the schedule we agreed to.  I couldn’t speak to her for a couple hours, I still bristle at the thought.  It is a pattern that repeats itself constantly, and I know pouting is not productive.

Anyway, to the point, we arrived in Spokane and I took her to the various stores she wanted to hit.  I waited in the car and read, which is ok, I’ve learned to like doing that for short periods.  I’ve become one of “those husbands”, who wait in the car and read the paper or listen to the radio, except in my case it’s reading self help books.  It’s when we got to the mall(s) that I had my epiphany Now an epiphany is described as “A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization”.  Is that appropriate or what?

So, my wife said, “what time do you want to meet?”  Oh, Oh.  Do you see where I’m going here?  I did. I totally saw the potential for further stress and anger in that simple question.  My answer was: “take as much time as you need, text me when you’re done”.  How’s that for a fast learner?

I used it on 2 separate occasions down there and it worked wonderfully each time, and of course you have to have the time to spare, it won’t work if you have to be somewhere at an allotted time. I just did some window shopping or found a place to wait and didn’t feel the same “watching the clock” stress I’ve felt in the past.  Say what you like but she seldom ever arrived at the designated meeting place at the appointed time so invariably I was waiting anyway, getting more and more frustrated as the minutes passed.  This way I was doing what I wanted (reading) until she was done.  Basically I just bought a book and some coffee, and sat in the bookstore coffee shop and read.  I did do some writing as well so it was all good.

So my challenge now will be to see if this method works in other situations.  I’m pretty pleased in the results on this occasion, less stress for both of us and we came home on a more positive note.  I still have to figure out which headphones to keep and what I’m going to do with the other set but in the big picture that’s small potatoes, because I still have my head.

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