Not Getting Stressed

It’s okay to be late

An image of an empty open suitcase on a rug. The suitcase lining is light grey. The dark grey exterior of the suitcase is just visible.
Photo: author

We were getting ready to visit my parents and it was taking forever to get everything ready and for us to get out of the door. Temperatures were flaring, words were being said.  The dog was getting more and more wound-up and the baby more and more confused. it’s regatta week in Salcombe and there is a risk that some or all of the events we want to attend will be missed.

I know I shouldn’t get stressed when things take longer to do because of the dog or the baby, or when it takes us forever to get out of the house. I know this, but in the heat of the moment – when it seems like you’re the only one who cares about a looming deadline – it’s hard to remember.

I’ve always hated being late for things.

This is my life now and I accept it willingly, but again, the heat of the moment. I have this theory that the amount of time it takes for us get ready increases disproportionately with the number of people in the house. Like when we went from 1 to 2 people, departure started taking more than twice as long. We’re now four counting the dog. We’re screwed if we add another child or dog

In these situations, here are some things that I find help.

Breathe.

Consider what is in your control, and what isn’t. Have you taken care of the things that are within your control as best you can? Then the rest, logically, is outside your control, and no amount of stress will change anything about them.

Think about those things you didn’t execute well; is it worth wasting energy getting angry about what happened, or do we learn the lesson for next time and move on? The same approach applies to something you could have influenced but didn’t: learn and move on.

An example: you could have told your partner what time you would need to leave to make the “important thing”. You didn’t. That’s your mistake, but there is nothing to be gained from being short or blaming others. Move on.

Remember that the events outside of your control are not often intentional and they are very rarely malicious. There is no conspiracy here, so stop thinking the world is against you.

Finally, consider that the events happening right now are the important ones. What are you missing whilst you’re fixating on that point in the future? Quality time with a baby girl who is changing every day? A beautiful sunset? A new song on the radio that might introduce you to a new band or artist? Five minutes of calm?

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

John Lennon

Or, indeed, while you’re stressed about your plans not working out.

As it happens, we were so late to my parents we missed all the things we might have rushed for: the beer festival, the street party, the Euro 2022 final, a beer with my dad. But I don’t focus on that. I focus on the quality time spent with my daughter whilst mum ran into the supermarket, the lunch we were able to enjoy, the family dog walk around my home town.

Be present, and stop stressing your life away.

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