• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

01 April 2010

in case you were wondering why i've been biting my nails off for nearly 30 years

-I feel a lot of stress.
-I do not feel that I have enough time to finish all of the things I need to get done.
-I feel rushed all the time.

Strongly Agree/Agree/Disagree/Strongly Disagree?

The above are three (paraphrased) questions from a survey Pink Hubby and I filled out for a local researcher who brought them at our door. The study was looking at the home and work lives of local couples and families in our region. The researcher who brought the surveys gave us 2 of them. We were to fill them out without consulting each other and/or looking at each others answers.

Sections of the 100-or-so question Likert scale survey included questions about work, free time, family, and our relationship. It also asked questions about your perception of your partner. (Example: My partner/spouse pretends nothing is wrong, when something is. Always, frequently, often, sometimes, occasionally, rarely, never?)

I don't know the actual purpose of the survey, but if I had to guess, I'd say the researchers are looking for discrepancies between working men and women in terms of their overall happiness with the workplace, homelife, and stress levels.

After we had separately finished the surveys (in pen), we cheated a little bit by looking at eachothers' answers, just to see. We didn't change any answers after looking at them, but it was fun and enlightening to discuss our differences of opinion/perception.

Overall, we answered pretty similarly. The work-attitude answers varied, but that was expected since our supervisors vary greatly in their managing style. One thing I noticed was this: even though Pink Hubby is easily busier than I am (he's taking more classes, and his job has more responsibility than mine), his answers regarding stress and ability to relax were most positive than Mine. I, for example, said I felt rushed and/or stressed all the time, I frequently felt that I did not have the time to get everything done, and I worried about house chores and the home frequently as well. He did not have those types of answers -- at least not as strongly as I did.

You might say "Well duh, he doesn't worry about chores because he's a man! Men are pigs!" But, that isn't true. He does stuff around the house and so do I. We both appreciate the value in having a clean and well-maintained home. He just doesn't WORRY ABOUT IT like I do. He has no problem saying "Well, I have this important project to work on, so the dishes will have to wait until later." Me (I swear to god) will think about those damn dirty dishes all day. I'll be sitting at work thinking about how I need to load the dishwasher when I get home. And when I get home, even if I have hours upon hours of homework to complete, I have to do those dishes before I sit down. Otherwise I'll be preoccupied with their presence while I'm trying to do my homework. I'll find myself getting up, pacing past them, seeing them, thinking 'I need to do those,' quite often. I can't be at peace (or concentrating) when my house is dirty, even if I'm not at home and can't even do anything about it at the time. I can not let it go.

tree overcoming barbed wire

This is why I feel rushed all the time, and why I don't feel like I have enough time to do all that I have to do. My priorities are ALL very important to me, and I think I have a lot of trouble assigning appropriate levels of importance to them.

But another interesting thing to note: on the survey, I wrote than I have 1-2 hours of free time every night, and 3-5 hours of free time on the weekend days. Pink Hubby's numbers were much lower. When we discussed this, it turned out that my numbers were higher because I was counting stuff like cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, and taking a shower as free time. He was only counting time where he does things for pleasure (i.e. watching a movie, surfing the web, or reading a non-assigned book). Who considers preparing dinner to be free time? I do, I guess! This is how my twisted mind works.

Someone asked me a formspring question about how I indulge myself, and I answered it the best I could. But I can justify anything I do (which Pink Hubby will probably roll his eyes at!), and tell you that doing the dishes (for example) is something I do for me. Because having them done makes me happy. The act of it doesn't de-stress me, but seeing a clean counter-top causes me less stress than a cluttered one. I guess that's how I'm wired. Weirdddddd.

You might be thinking "Wow, that's messed up! You need some help! You have _______ disorder and/or condition!" But you know what? It works for me. It has worked for me for my entire adult life. To say that I "Never have enough time to get everything done" is actually a fallacy. I may always feel that way, but as a result, I pour the pressure on myself and actually end up with exactly enough time to get everything done. I perform highly at work, I have never taken an incomplete or extension on an assignment for school or work, I almost always have a clean and presentable home when guests drop by, we eat probably 75%-80% home-cooked meals and lunches brought to work, our laundry basket rarely overflows, my bills are paid on time, and everything in my life runs fairly smoothly.

And all I have to give up is a small portion of my sanity, which has been absent so long that I honestly don't even miss it most of the time.

How do you deal with stress and your responsibilities? Do you need time for yourself in order to stay sane, or are you satisfied with simply accomplishing your to-do list each day?