Stressed to the point of breaking

Aug 27, 2012 by

The next 3 months are going to be the most stressful of my life. I tend to handle stress pretty well, but I’m a little worried about it nonetheless.*

In the next three months my husband and I are going to buy a house, renovate the kitchen in that house, as well as paint and do a bunch of other smaller repairs, and then move into the house. That would be plenty, but throw in work travel to no less than five places – Omaha, Knoxville, Portland (ME), San Francisco and Denver, most of which require me to lead trainings either single-handedly or with one other person – and you have a recipe for a very, very, stressed out Elisa.

It’s gonna suck and its gonna be great at the same time.

The suck – in a word: exhausting. Traveling is exhausting under the most ideal conditions (like when I’m jetting off to the Caribbean). Traveling for work seems to exhaust me even more because of well, work. While I don’t feel obligated to spend every spare second that I’m on the plane or in the hotel working, I do need to spend a substantial amount of time writing, answering emails, taking calls, etc. And then after I arrive, I often go straight to a meeting or training where I need to stand up in front of a bunch of people and put my best self forward. As a result, I consume far too much caffeine, tend to socialize with those folks over too many drinks, eat all kinds of food I wouldn’t ordinarily, and avoid exercise in favor of sleep (but still don’t get enough).

Buying a house, renovating it and moving are also sucky; each in their own special way. Giving up my life savings and the next 30 years of my money to a mortgage company is terrifying and involves more paperwork than I’ve dealt with in my entire life combined. Renovating brings paralyzing fear of screwing things up or having a contractor do it for you, spending even more money and then potentially having to live in a house where you have to wash the dishes in the bathroom tub. Not fun. And of course moving: packing, purging, cleaning, breaking, losing, organizing, re-organizing and so much more.

I’m so tired just thinking about it.

On the other hand…there are lots of great things here too.

The decision to buy a home is a direct fulfillment of one of my themes for this year: to shit or get off the pot. After much discussion and weighing the pros and cons, my husband and I decided that, in the short term, buying a house was a better decision for us than me going to grad school (I’m still planning to go in a few years once our savings have recouped). The place we’re buying is a great deal and it feels even better because we stuck to our guns through a really tough house hunt to get what we wanted. We’re finally going to have a second bedroom, the opportunity to have pets and a little piece of the American dream.

All the travel I’m going to be doing for work is actually very exciting since I’ll be doing what I love most: training and teaching people. On top of that, I get to train them on some of the skills that I have the most experience in and passion for: organizing, outreach, stakeholder engagement, messaging, communications and coalition building. The trainings will allow them to do their work better, thereby improving thousands of lives all over the country; it’s everything a dyed-in-the-wool idealist could ask for.

How am I going to handle all of this?

I’m going to focus on getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising whenever I can, even if its just for a short while. I’m going to take lots of deep breaths and moments to myself whenever I can. I’m going to ask myself constantly: “What is the most important to do right now?” And then I’ll do it. I’m going to rely on my support system of friends and family. And I might just cry once in a while – its a great way to release that gigantic stressball for a bit.

What other suggestions do you have when dealing with stress? What should I do to keep relatively happy and healthy? Let me know in the comments!


*I may not post as frequently for the next few months, so bear with me. I am thinking about some posts around the training topics I’m working on for my travel, but I’m always open to ideas and suggestions from my readers.

Photo credit

  • Dsfalinski

    I like how you plan to handle stress.  Spending time with family, especially an unstressed aunt and uncle, is another way to cope! By the time we get to see you next May, most of this will be in the past and we can really celebrate!  This should give you plenty of notice (we’ll be in the DC Area around Memorial Day and would love to see you and test out that 2nd bedroom) so you won’t stress out about visitors! Love you! Dolly & Paul

    • Thanks Aunt Dolly! We would love to have you and can’t wait to see you both in May. By then, the craziness should (hopefully) be over 🙂

  • Best of luck Eliza, but I have faith you can get through this time. Being busy is always a good thing, and you can look back on this time once you’re done and feel proud of all you’ve accomplished!

    • Thanks Akhila,

      I’m trying to stay focused on the good parts of all of this. I do like being busy…though this level of busyness might be too much even for me 🙂

  • Jessica LeBeau-Richman

    Inspirational quotes are always helpful for me – there is a free app that I liked called “Inspirations” that I would highly recommend. Also, make time for yourself to relax. Best of luck to you!