Saturday, January 12, 2008

Catch up Time

I have cleared room on my hard drive, so now maybe I can import pictures (a thing I haven't been able to do in months.) I had believed that digital would be so much less hassle than film -- and it has, but I don't cull pictures. After a while, it all builds up and either you have to get more hard drive space or take the time to cull. The Loving Husband purchased me a hard drive and more memory for the motherboard at Christmas -- upgrading the internal memory wasn't hard, but there are always complications.... We have a "missing link" -- I need another case for this hard drive so that I can put that hard drive into the computer; and that requires spending more money.... So I wait until we have money.

(watching the disk space ... down from 2.3 gig to 1.5 already. I don't think half of the pictures have imported...)

But I got tired of waiting so I removed hopefully enough pictures off the hard drive to put the new pictures on... And so it goes. An analogy for life, I suppose. A lot of what we do is a sort of shuffling around resources. Let go of these things so that those things can take priority in life. And you think you are all prepared, but then find you have missing links.

(1.3 gig left and 162 pictures left to import...)

I've been thinking about how stress is a result of limited resources and the different flavors of stress.

I distinguish between two different types of stress. First is the everyday stress inherent in our current society, where an individual feels the pressure to conform to the American ideal of a happy, busy family. This usually consists of balancing several different roles in the day: worker, mother (or father), wife, (or husband) housekeeper, gardener, child chauffeur, and runner of errands (bank, post-office, grocery store, drug-store, dry-cleaner, school, karate, soccer field). I am certain that most people could add to this list. We complain that there just are not enough hours in the day and how full our plates are. This is basic every day stress.

Then there are the extraordinary types of stress: this would be the stress that occurs when something else, not on the list, happens. For instance, your tire becomes flat a hundred miles from home or you have a car accident or there is a severe illness – or topping the list, you lose your job or you lose a loved one. When people encounter this type of stress, they tend to say things like “this is sending me over the edge” and “I just don’t think I can cope.”

(814 meg and 60 pictures to import....)

I have encountered both types of stress, both the ordinary day-to-day stress and the extraordinary stress and have noticed something: both types of stress have the same cause. Stress occurs simply when an imbalance between demands on time outreach our resources. Or stated differently, when pressure exceeds our ability to cope. If we can manage our resources and identify and alleviate pressure points, we can begin to manage stress. Additionally, stress management cannot happen with just one portion of a family system: all parties must be involved. The stress does not come about in a vacuum thus the solution to the stress will not either.

(Time to go to finder and erase something ... brb.)

I think at times all you can do it try to manage the stress. Balance resources and need; to do this well, you have to prioritize. HAVE TO.

(Ah, almost finished. All of 20 meg left. Need to erase scratch files.)

I have two active children, I have been in the recent past a student and I work part time at a church. My husband works outside the home, as well. My children are engaged in many extra-curricular activities that include Girl Scouts, multiple music lessons, karate, choir and church. My husband is involved with a small group study, he is in a bowling league, he takes karate lessons, he is involved with ham radio and we own an airplane. One of the first ways I manage stress levels is to keep a detailed calendar on the kitchen door so that everyone knows the daily schedule. We place all activities on this calendar. In this manner, we can help one another manage expectations and reduce basic anxiety. An integral part of this system is a regular “check-up” to make sure that we are not being stressed overly much. If we are, then an activity will be dropped. Good time management is key to helping one another deal with stress.

(All scratch files erased. 1.14 gig left. Good!)

Basic housekeeping is an area where stress can be created. Living in a chaotic house cannot do anything but lend stress to a family system. Finances are a large area where stress can be created. If there is not enough money to last to the end of the month, then stress will ensue. My husband and I have a budget and a long range plan for debt reduction.

(Time to export some pictures to post.)

Individually, I encounter stress. For instance, these (blankety-blank) ordination papers have created quite a bit of stress. Good time management is key. I have in the past kept either a spreadsheet or calendar with all the due dates for various and sundry in red ink. In retrospect, I could have done that with these papers, but instead set aside a certain amount of time daily to write these papers. When my time was up, I would close the document and set it aside for the next day. Abiding with these types of decisions also reduces stress. I also am dedicated to having an hour to an hour and a half of prayer and meditation time every morning. This time helps ground me and keeps me centered.

Multitasking and good planning help reduce stress. Having the laundry machines going at the same time I'm writing is good time management. There are things that require a lot of attention and processes that will go on without you. Then there is need for just plain "slack time" -- time to think and dream and sing silly songs and dance silly dances.

(Time to back stuff up on CD. Pop CD in and Burn while writing blog post.)

There are times I have encountered extraordinary stress. At those times, I try to remember to lean into my support systems: my family, my friends, my home church, my online communities. There is wisdom in knowing when you cannot go it alone. Times of extraordinary stress are an example of that.

(Finished! Time to post pictures!)

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