I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this lately, but people are stressed out right now. I don’t think I’ve had a phone call in the past week that wasn’t an argument, someone hoping to get something they weren’t entitled to, or to get out of something they’d committed to.
There’s one gentleman who calls me at work, at least once a week, to complain about a real estate transaction that took place in 1974. Nothing I’ve said (“Dude, I don’t know what happened, I was in sixth grade at the time”) has convinced him that his calls are misplaced. I’ve gotten phone calls asking me for money I don’t have, to pay debts that I don’t owe. I get honked at every time I’m in the crosswalk, because although I have the little green “walk” guy telling me to go, I seem to be preventing some douchebag in a Beemer from running a red light.
All in all, there are a lot more riders on the crazy train lately.
As much as the crazy was starting to rub off, I decided I wasn’t going to rent it head space. Just because I’m dealing with lunatics doesn’t mean I have to be one, ya know?
Here are some ways to keep from taking somebody else’s problems home with you, and ways to decompress after those encounters. I can’t take full credit for these ideas – they come from a super-cool blog called Zen Habits (http://zenhabits.net/).
First of all, you have to be Teflon. If somebody has an incorrect idea, or a desperate need to lay blame, that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. You don’t need to fight or argue, because that drags you down, but you don’t need to passively carry their problems around with you, either. Let it roll off and drift away. Someone else’s feelings of resentment, anger, sadness, or fear all have one thing in common. They belong to someone else.
Mind you, I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about people. Absolutely you should! And of course, you have responsibility for your actions. But you don’t have to be the owner of every crazy idea that gets tossed your way. Kids automatically know this – I’m rubber, and you’re glue.
Next, try disconnecting for a while. If the office is where things are tough, carry your lunch outside and relax under a tree while you munch. Or take a short walk to get away. Heck, lock yourself in the ladies room if you have to, but get some time to stop and breathe without being hounded. The negative stuff is in a forum or chat room? Close that browser window! Distressing phone calls? I know this is heresy, but ----- turn off the cell phone. Shut off the Crackberry. Very few of us on earth are so important that we need to be available at every minute of every day. If you’re not the Pope or the leader of a world power, we can get by without you for ten minutes.
And you know, without me even mentioning it, that I think a hot bath is a great hiding and destressing place. Get into a hot tub, with your favorite soap or bath bombs or loofah or what have you, and do absolutely nothing until you’re all pruney and relaxed.
Get some unconditional love. Pet a dog, or skritch a cat. They don’t care what you weigh, or what your credit score is, or whether your mother said you were a failure. My dog loves me even when I have horrible bed head and morning breath – it just doesn’t matter to him. Even a cranky, early-morning not-awake mama is aces in his book. Fur therapy works wonders!
PS – As soon as I finished writing this, I realized that I could do something nice for you guys, and that would help make my little corner of the world nicer, too. So if you’re ordering anything from me for the next ten days, just say “blog post” in your comments to me, and I’ll give you a free bar of soap, your choice of scents. You can use this on my website or on Etsy. Just promise you’ll use it to relax and unwind.