My first-born child turned 27 yesterday.
TWENTY-SEVEN. How did that happen so quickly? The details of his labor and birth – a three-plus day affair (from the Friday night my water broke to the Monday night when he finally decided to finally show up) – remain crystal clear; I can even recall the smell of birth - yet the last 27 years are sometimes tough to sort through and remember with the same sort of absolute assurance.
At any rate, the fact that he’s 27 makes me feel kind of…OLD. Not too old to still act like a kid if I feel like it. Not too old to still go to the gym and
pretend to dream of competing with the 20-something young woman on the treadmill next to me, running as if there were springs hidden beneath her sneakers.
As much as I shy away from using the “age card,” I have to remember that even though I might feel 35, my birth certificate will take issue with that fact. So I’ll admit that I’m old enough to remember the days before
On the other hand…
I’m not too old to have welcomed all of these things into my life, albeit initially (and sometimes still) with a bit of
hesitation and intimidation, not to mention
frustration and confusion at times.
Just ask anyone who lives with me – or within earshot of me. I’m sure they’ll tell you all about the pleading, whining, stomping and teeth-gnashing I indulge in when I just can’t take it anymore.
Which is, by the way, often.
And this got me to thinking about how all that frustration and stress must be affecting me. I’ve come to the conclusion that, without a doubt
E-mail can be bad for your health.
I send them – lots of them. They’re time-efficient and easier than picking up the phone when your written to-do list is so cumbersome that it makes your pen run out of ink. But the so-called convenience blows up in my face when I have to hunt down the email that got ignored, re-send it, and then gnash my teeth worrying about if the other person even saw it or just decided to blow me off.
Which happens…there’s that word again - often.
I don’t think I’m alone in this e-mail stressdom. I have a sneaking suspicion we’re all suffering from it together, probably to different degrees. And as a health writer, I’m obliged to share this bit of info with you:
Chronic stress is just plain bad for you, affecting every aspect of your life and health: your appetite (stress produces cortisol, an appetite trigger), your sleep, your blood pressure, your thoughts, feelings and behavior. Too much stress can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. It can show itself in ulcers, migraines, heart palpitations and memory impairment.
And don’t even get me started on how messages can be totally misconstrued in emails, with its monotone nature (save for the !’s, , and other emoticons). I once had a falling out with a friend – which was probably totally unnecessary – via e-mail; our tones indistinguishable and as a result misunderstood, without the cadence of language.
Maybe you’ve received the advice I once received by a therapist: if you need closure, write down all your feelings in a letter, but don’t mail it. That advice usually did the trick of getting things off my chest without worrying about acting too impulsively and saying something I’d later regret. But that doesn’t always work with e-mail.
How many times have you – in a fit of enthusiasm, passion or excitement – hit the “send” button, only to regret it later?
How about we all agree to indulge in a little email/stress relief a few times daily?
Step away from your e-mail. Stretch, exercise, listen to relaxing music, meditate. Some experts say that certain foods can help fight stress. These include foods rich in folate and vitamins A and C (like papayas, red bell peppers, basil, arugula, sunflower seeds), and foods rich in vitamin B (like lentils, chickpeas and quinoa).
And it might help to reach out to a friend. A good friend can be a huge stress-buster.
But before you do, you might want to consider picking up the phone rather than e-mailing.