Unfortunately many of us unintentionally take on more than we can chew and don’t quite realize we are in over our heads until we are already struggling to stay above water. Whether it’s a new a job, a diabetes diagnosis that requires major lifestyle changes or the death of a loved one, all of these little things can pile up and add more stress to our already busy and chaotic lives. No one ever intends or wants to be overwhelmed by stress but it still seems to happen from time to time. Even when we have good intentions with our commitments and new goals, the outcome is sometimes anything but optimal.
Take for example joining that neighborhood book club. It may seem like only 5 hours out of your week, but on top of your other full time job, familial obligations, and “you” time, those extra 5 hours turn into 5 hours that you could have spent rock climbing, playing with your children, or going to that new Indian place with your wife. Those seemingly harmless 5 hours start to add up, and not necessarily in the way you had initially expected them to. Again, the intentions were optimal, but adding more to your plate only ended up making you more stressed, and then the dreaded stressing about being stressed begins to set in.
Ironic right? That the source of more stress could be attempting to not be stressed. That book club was supposed to be fun, a great way to get to know the other mothers in your neighborhood and simultaneously being able to read up on some New York Time’s Best-Sellers… But it’s turned into added stress in your life; another thing that has slowly made its way onto your plate. Now, it may not necessarily be a book club for you, but it’s more the principle that I’m getting at. That even when we try our best and work really hard at relieving our stress, we sometimes end up adding more to our plate and not less.
So lets go back to the simple principle that our mothers taught us when we first wanted to wear make-up. Less is more.
As a full-time student, I am all too often a victim of stressing about being stressed. It’s a vicious cycle that tends to go from seemingly harmless nerves to full blown anxiety. So what can we do? How do we beat this vicious cycle in a world that is driven by the need to always be on the move and strive for the next best thing? We settle. Now, I’m not advocating that when you bomb that final exam because you didn’t study for it you should just settle with a bad grade. Or that when you completely blow your diet and gain those 20 pounds you should just say screw it and give up. I’m merely saying that settling with imperfection is the best way to move forward. Once we are able to move past perfectionism and accept that we as humans are flawed, I strongly believe that we will all not only be a lot less overwhelmed, but a lot happier too. We will realize that being happy isn’t determined by big successes or taking on more, but merely stepping back and realizing how much we are already doing and observing how far we have come from where we once started.
Settle with take-out when you have a busy day, and don’t stress or feel ashamed for not “eating healthy” and following your New Year’s resolution to eat better. Why? Because Chinese take-out is delicious (especially those darn fortune cookies), and because you deserve to settle and not feel guilty about a food choice. Settling doesn’t mean defeat, it’s acceptance; and when we all start to accept our decisions we will start to move towards being happier and healthier individuals.
So start to settle. Settle with running three miles instead of five because of the simple fact that your body is amazing for carrying itself any distance. Settle with that bowl of Rocky Road ice cream instead of depriving yourself of all sweets because that one bowl isn’t going to change the way you look today. Settle with choosing to stay in and watch Grey’s Anatomy after a long week instead of getting cocktails with the girls, (believe me, everyone needs a little self love sometimes). But above all else, settle with the fact that you are an imperfect human, because regardless, you are strong and you are beautiful.