"This is not the easiest time of your life," my mom told me a couple months ago when I called to talk to her about...well, I can't even remember what was stressing me out that time. But I was in probably tears and that line stuck in my head: This is not the easiest time of your life.
Thing is, I thought it was supposed to be. Maybe not the easiest, but at least easier. Our kids are a little older and in school all day; my career is far enough along that I know that one bad day—or month—won't break me; my 13-year-old marriage feels solid and strong. (And, truth be told, pretty boring: "Want to watch a new episode of 'Orange is the New Black' tonight?" "Definitely! Great idea!")
But 7- and 10-year-old kids means soccer and volleyball practices; and two kids means almost constant bickering; and 10-year-old means on the verge of puberty that is turning my sweet Amelia into my conflicted Amelia; and 10-year-old also means dividing decimals, which always seems to end in frustrated tears; and the waffling economy can make any career feel shaky; and we just had get a new roof (cha-ching!); and the laundry never stops and the fridge empties so fast and the dog needs a long walk every single morning; and there are large crumbs and other gross detritus in every single kitchen drawer and cabinet; and can a marriage in which Netflix is a highlight really be considered strong?
No, this not the easiest time of my life.
Truth be told, I thrive on my tank being a quarter full. Write a feature story in a week? I'm on it. Head up a debut magazine for a 5th-grade class? Totally. Figure out dinner on three ingredients? Well, if they happen to be beans, cheese, and tortillas, I'm all about the quesadillas. I like pressure, I like performing under pressure, I like succeeding under pressure.
What I don't like is pressure that never lets up, which is where my life is right now. It's important pressure, too. It's the you're-in-your-prime-years-of-parenting-and-earning-and-don't-screw-up-either stress. And it's less important, but more tangible, mundane stress: Do you remember when back-to-school night is? (Um, not this year apparently.) Do you have enough vegetables in the crisper drawer? (Do rubbery carrots count?) Doesn't your (very friendly) dog need another rabies vaccination? (On it, on it.)
You all know what I do when I feel the virtual stress vice squeezing my innards and cranium: I head out and sweat. A good sweat is like taking a scrub brush to my spirit. As my pores pour, I slowly build myself up. Sweat. You can do this day. Sweat. You've got this day. Sweat. One step at a time, friend, and you can do this day. Sweat. I sweat in the morning; I think of it as prehab for my day.
While stress doesn't just disappear with the miles—I'm pretty sure the world would have more runners if it did—I finish a run, and all the little stresses seems totally conquerable. Hey: I can roast those rubbery carrots and nobody will be the wiser. And the bigger ones are put in perspective: I have a healthy family, a healthy dog, and a new roof! Be grateful, sister!
Oh, I am so endorphin-laced and so grateful, post-sweat. I could coast forever on that delicious feeling that is also—dang it!—fleeting. More often than not, the day yawns on and stress creeps in again, and sometimes it's so omnipotent and menacing, I'm back on the phone with my mom, who reassures me this is not the easiest time of my life.
Hyland's, one of AMR's valued partners, knows how stressed we all are, whether your life mirrors mine or is in another not-the-easiest-time spot. On September 30, they're launching the first annual Hyland's Five-Day Stress Challenge, which will have a range of tips and ideas to lower your stress levels, on their Facebook page.
Registration for the Stress Challenge begins on September 18 on Hyland's Facebook page; the first 1,000 people to register will get a full-sized Nerve Tonic, which is as soothing as it sounds. (Trust me on this one.) And there are chances to win other stress-reducing and helpful prizes from September 30 to October 4, during the first Stress Challenge.
Before you and your stressed badass head over on Wednesday and register, though, we have a chance for one reader to win a variety of Hyland's products. We'll announce the random winner on Tuesday, September 17 (as in: tomorrow!) so don't delay—but don't stress about it. Just answer this question in the comments below: What is stressing you out these days?