You Have Some Kind Of Nerve

Weathering Stormy Conditions

I am on vacation this week in Park City, which is about 30 minutes from where I live. So in a way, it’s kind of like a staycation, but without actually being at home.

Every other year, I retreat with my wife to the mountains to try and regroup, relax and attempt to get caught up with some things I want to do but don’t during normal days at home. Things like reading books and magazines, blog posting, swimming, drinking, hiking and just plain down time. Most of the reason why I pick this time is that it’s both my birthday (Aug 6th) and my wife’s birthday (Aug 3rd). Like automatic birthday gifts for both of us.

And each year, I actually do some of things on my list. It’s not a chore and I don’t beat myself up if I don’t do everything, but I do take notice of my overall state of mind before, during and after this week off. Then I try to change things in my life to help me reduce my stress, change how I deal with daily matters and learning how to relax during non-vacation hours.

Why do I do this? Because I know myself well enough that if I don’t, I feel like I will crack under the pressure of normal daily life. Or as I have come to realize, I am a very nervous person. If you’ve met me in person, you might be questioning this, since I appear to be a calm, cool and easy going person. And I really am. But for me, I have a lot of worries that fuck with my nervous system. Way short of a being a nervous wreck, but enough to constantly give me cause to rattle my nerves. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Even on vacation, I’m connected. Maybe not while at the pool or out hiking, but I do at least have one type of gadget with me, normally an internet-connected phone. My phone checks email for me a couple times a day, my day job email included. On Monday, an email from our VP of IT came in asking for an update on something he’s asked for. I had updated him, but not before I left. Unlike some that can ignore this thing until they get back from vacation, I let it weight heavy in my mind and seriously contemplated replying and drafting a response. After a few hours of going back and forth, I finally decided that I was on vacation and that if it was serious enough to address, a phone call would be made to me asking to take care of it.

Here’s another example. I had promised to help someone in a move on Sunday afternoon, but due to being out of town on Saturday night [a quick and cheap Wendover, NV trip] and leaving for Park City on Sunday night – combined with a family issue that came up, I wasn’t able to help, which combined with the work email I received, further added to my nervous state.

palm pre wires
Wireless Goes Wired

Adding to all of this, my Palm Pre [which I have yet to blog about here in greater detail] is on the fritz, with the screen being non-responsive most of the time, and the earpiece being completing broken, needing both a USB cable and a wired headset plugged in at all times to use the phone. My frustration level trying to use this Frankenstein-looking device, topped with worries and concerns about a work email, and a broken promise to help someone move left me a bit rattled at the start of my vacation. Not wanting to set the tone for the entire week, I decided I had to deal with my anxieties. So I took a couple of hours while my wife rested in Park City and drove down the 25 minutes back into Salt Lake valley. I helped with the move, I got a replacement cell phone ordered and drafted and deleted four different responses to the work email. Since then, my worries and concerns have gone down drastically, only coming up once while waiting for dinner on Tuesday night.

Self Torture

So why in the fuck do I do this to myself? Why do I let all of these items weigh so heavy on my mind? I know part of is that I feel like I have to take care of things all the time. While I know I don’t have to, I’ve edged myself into a place where I feel I need to. I’m not a controlling person at all, so this surprises me that I have let myself meld into this type of mindset. Most of the time, it’s just easier to do things then to let my mind worry about doing them or letting someone else do them. Trust me, I would prefer to let others do the stuff I do. I’ve blogged about fixing computers and would be more than pleased to have others know just as much or more than I do so that they can either fix their own issues or help others that I normally would. I’ve gotten better at saying no to many people I used to help, which has helped, but still, there’s enough other items that cause my nerves to jumble that affect me much more adversely.

So how I do stop this level of self torture? Or at least significantly reduce it to a manageable level? That’s the question I am looking for an answer to. My concern is that if I don’t find a way to effectively reduce and eliminate the nerve-induced trauma I experience on a regular basis, that it can get worse and start affecting other aspects of my life that it hasn’t already touched.

My first plan of attack is to find ways to de-stress over situations I don’t need to worry about. Once I can get a grip on that, I think all other situations that I do need to manage will be much easier, without the weight of worry. Then sometime before the end of 2010, I hope to be a much calmer person, at least internally to my own self. Wish me luck.

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  1. Sybil Law says:

    I tend to be the same way, but as I get older, I realize it’s useless to let shit eat at me the way I tend to LET it, and I’ve learned to let go. Much easier said than done, but it is possible!

  2. Finn says:

    This used to be me, but I’ve learned to ask myself a very important question when I want to worry: Will this matter in a week? A month? A year? Most of the time I won’t even get past a week before I realize it ain’t that important. The other thing I ask myself is: Did somebody die? Because if the answer is no, how important can it be?

    It takes practice, but with time you will learn how to let things roll off of you.

  3. Oh my goodness, that used to be me in a nutshell. Every once in a while it still is because I’m a born worrier. What I’ve found that totally works for me is just getting it off my chest helps no end. I used to be really crap at that and let things just build up inside without venting to anyone. Venting is the one thing that de-stresses me. Well that, and copious amounts of Newcastle Brown Ale 😉

  4. Lisa says:

    Oh boy can I relate to this! I have learned that if something is nagging at me I have to take care of it right away or I will wake up at 2am unable to go back to sleep because it’s on my mind. I am somewhat of a control freak, but I also have a healthy sense of resposibility. It’s hard to tell where one stops and the other begins. Lately I’ve started turning my phone ringers off at night and on weekends. If someone needs me they can leave a message. I also deleted my work email account from my phone last time I took te off so I wouldn’t be tempted to check it. That made for a much less stressful vacation!

    I wish you the set of luck dealing with this because I know how it can be.

  5. kapgar says:

    Everyday, I thank God that I don’t have my work e-mail connected to my Blackberry and that I don’t have a work phone. They tried. Oh, yes, they tried.

  6. Beth says:

    I think it shows good character that you want to hold to your word for friends, even when it affects your schedule. Also, your work ethic is strong which hopefully your employer values. I can only offer that taking a minute to step out and think about the situation from another perspective can help. Like, what would “insertnamehere” do? Think of someone you admire, who doesn’t seem to be a worrier/stresser and try to glean from what you believe they could ‘let go’ and what they would consider an immediate priority. Might help….

    And Happy Birthday eve!!!

  7. I am normally like this too. This past vacation I was just present in the moment and didn’t worry about anything. It was nice. I’m not sure how I did it, but I hope you figure it out for yourself soon too. It was really nice not to have the nagging worry over things this time.

  8. delmer says:

    I don’t have a solution for your stress problems — if I did I’d try to make use of it myself. As it is I spent part of Saturday worrying about a problem with our ERP package that I wouldn’t be able to fix even had I been sitting in my office (I was in South Dakota at the time … not Ohio). As it was I contacted a consultant and checked my email when I had Internet access. While I was certain he’d get it fixed, I still fretted over it until I collected my email, in Iowa, that night.

  9. martymankins says:

    sybil law – See, and that’s what I’m training myself to do – forget about the useless shit that I don’t need to worry about.

    finn – It does take practice as I’m finding out. Very hard to shake off, considering how easily it snuck into my life.

    kevin – Yes, the brown ale would help (for me, it’s gin). But nice to know that you and others know what this is. Hoping that with some time and effort, I can let most of it go and get back to my creative self.

    lisa – That is me to a “T” My time is around 4:30am when I have to get up to use the little boy’s room. Then I check email, then if I see one that’s a concern… it’s a series of madness. But learning to say no, and not even think about it until I need to. It’s a process, but I’m starting to let it all go.

    kapgar – Having the work email on my phone was one of the first things I took off. I never put it on my iPad, but it’s still on my iPhone, but that’s for those times when I’m away from work to do a quick check. Maybe someday, I’ll remove that one, too and just have it be on my laptop.

    beth – Your suggestion about someone I admire is a good one, using that person as an example of what I need to do to shake these worries off. And thanks for the birthday wish.

    tori – Yes, being able to not worry while on vacation is really being on vacation. My next trip is in October and I hope to put work out of my mind.

    delmer – I think coming up with a solution that works is one of those personal things. However I need to do it. I don’t mind being a multitasker, but at the same time, I don’t want to have to not enjoy where I am at with something weighing heavy on my mind.

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