SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Keep calm and don’t stress yourself out

It’s stress awareness month, in case any of us were unaware of what being stressed feels like.


It’s the feeling you get when your inbox becomes flooded with stupid emails from PR companies sending you made up research on how to prevent stress by doing things like breathing and drinking camomile tea, so that instead of feeling serene, you feel your heartbeat increasing and you have to fight the urge to throw your laptop out the window.

If, like me, you have spent years curating — and I am genuinely sorry for using that annoying word outside of an art gallery — a life that is as stress free as it can possibly be without identifying as an actual tree sloth, how do you deal with stress when it occasionally but inevitably comes along? Not very well, is the short answer.

My stress hell could well be your first world problems, but that does not take away from the fact that I have a headache from clenching my teeth because my computer — this one, that I am using as I write these very words — is dangerously on the blink, and could cut out before I get to the end of this sentence. Stressful? My left eye has been twitching since lunchtime, and not just from all the caffeine.

No, it’s from stress. Switch off from technology, suggests the message that has appeared on my phone, desktop, laptop, tablet, amid facebook updates, emails, texts, Instagram likes, instant messages, tweets, voicemails, and Whatsapps.

I am arguing with my boyfriend in four different formats, while trying to organise transport to Heathrow for 5am tomorrow, remember where my passport is, and print off some old fashioned paper tickets on a printer that is so old-fashioned it has decided to retire mid-task.

Now my right eye is twitching as well. My kids are shouting at me. Something about needing dinner — almost as though I were responsible for them.

Human contact, advises the anti-stress missive that I am too stressed to read properly. It’s human contact from annoying humans via a plethora of faulty machines which is causing the bloody stress in the first place; I am being simultaneously irritated by several people at once, on a sliding scale of quite annoying to vein-popping fury.

If only punching others in the head was an acceptable form of stress relief, nobody would ever mention camomile tea ever again. There would be no stress awareness month — just calm people and punched unconscious people.

Have you thought about taking up yoga, asks the stress awareness press release. Yoga? I do so much bloody yoga that the yoga studio gave me a job.

How is downward facing dog going to make all the muppets in my life behave in a non stressful manner? It’s only yoga, not voodoo. Meditation? With twitching eyes, a tight jaw and stress headache, I’d rather headbutt the wall. Namaste.



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