Saturday, February 11

ten tips for dumping stress

We like ‘before and afters’. We like it when the after is better than the before. Like when that pimply, unruly maned girl is transformed into a sleek haired, white teethed, glossy lipped wonder. “That’s better”, we sigh as we gladly rest our eyes on the appealing yet unnatural sigh before us. Uniqueness has been whisked away, and exchanged for a tantalising package of ‘perfect’.  Ahhh. 

Here are ten commandments I held to, before.
  • 1. Thou shalt be perfect or at least try to be.
  • 2. Thou shalt try to be all things to all people.
  • 3. Thou shalt not leave things undone that ought to be done.
  • 4. Thou shalt do as much as possible.
  • 5. Thou shalt always say "YES".
  • 6. Thou shalt not schedule time for thyself as this is lazy.
  • 7. Thou shalt always strive to work harder at school and flute.
  • 8. Thou shalt be vivacious, tidy, elegant and attractive at all times.
  • 9. Thou shalt feel guilty if standards are lowered 
  • 10. Thou shalt not be weak in anyway 

I realise now that I tried to follow these commandments to the letter for a few too many years. I am quite attracted to them. They seem to promise wonderful things. I see elegant people, I see helpful people, I see hard workers and want to be all those things, all the time, no exceptions. Perfectionism. Workaholism. I slip into these commands with ease, and ignore their folly and impracticality. But I have had to snip them up and chuck them in the bin because they are no match for me physically or emotionally. It’s not a healthy relationship, and I’ve cut ties...but the attraction remains, and I have to fight it every single day. 

I found the following on a chronic fatigue syndrome site and it was love at first sight. I suggest printing off the following rules and blu-tacking them up in the toilet so that you read them a few times each day:
Ten Commandments For Reducing Stress
  • 1. Thou shalt not be perfect or try to be.
  • 2. Thou shalt not try to be all things to all people.
  • 3. Thou shalt leave things undone that ought to be done.
  • 4. Thou shalt not spread thyself too thin.
  • 5. Thou shalt learn to say "NO".
  • 6. Thou shalt schedule time for thyself, and for thy supporting network.
  • 7. Thou shalt switch off and do nothing regularly.
  • 8. Thou shalt be boring, untidy, inelegant and unattractive at times.
  • 9. Thou shalt not even feel guilty.
10. Thou shalt not be thine own worst enemy, but thine own best friend.


This doesn’t rule out working hard, being dependable, striving towards just enforces a rational, realistic and healthy approach to life.
I have not got these commandments sussed. Yet. I still think that having a piece of chocolate by myself is un- self-controlled, I still say ‘yes’ to all kinds of things which stress me out, I still agonise over leaving the house with bad hair or outfit, I still apologise for being blah to people because I’m tired, and I still feel guilty for relaxing some days....But I struggle and fight, and consciously decide to do what I know to be right. And I imagine that if you ask me in a decade how I am going with these new life rules, I will still be struggling against my natural desires – but hopefully, I will be much more relaxed and dare I say it... healthy.
I think this ‘after’ is better, by far.

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