The Spin Cycle topic this week is Stress. When I saw this, I realized that stress has been the topic of about half of my blog posts over the past year. I ALWAYS seem to be stressed. I ALWAYS seem to feel under pressure or unable to catch up, or under some kind of self-imposed deadline.
And yet, I don't consider myself a stressed-out person. Is that strange? The other day I did one of those "true age" Facebook tests, and when I rated my general stress level, I gave myself a 2 out of 5. Earlier today, I read Shelby at Gen-X Mom's Spin Cycle/Stress post, and in the comments, I wrote that I was "generally pretty relaxed". Really? Why do I perceive myself as such? I certainly USED to be laid back, in those pre-boy days, maybe my perception of myself hasn't evolved over the last 7 years. Or maybe, I kind of thrive on the stress. Hmmm.
But I also think that I'm pretty successful at releasing my stress. Unlike...oh...JIMMY, who physicalizes all of his stress. His back goes out, his neck goes out, his stomach goes out, he gets heart palpatations, headaches. I just take a hot bath, drink a glass of wine and watch America's Next Top Model, and I'm generally good to go. I think that women, on average, are better at taking care of their own stress than men. We take our Calgon/General Foods International Coffee moments. This is probably why we live longer.
And I've realized that I have one thing in my life that is absolutely my greatest release, the activity that eases my fears, and takes my stress level down every time is...my choir. Or really just singing in general. Every Wednesday night, I have my choir rehearsal. I can show up with my shoulders up around my ears, and after two hours of hard singing, I leave as loose as a goose. I used to have an acting teacher who would shout out "RELAX YOUR ASSHOLE!" whenever tension was getting in our way. Well. my singing makes me relax my asshole.
What is it about singing that helps so much?
My choir director, who is a high school choir director as well, told me once that kids who participate in choir or band/orchestra score higher on their SATs across the board. Why? The theory is that choir/band/orchestra are one of the only things that a person can do in which you exercise both sides of your brain equally at the same time. Equally. At the same time. Cool, right? Because you must concentrate on both notes, rhythm, words (left brain stuff) and interpretation, dynamics, emotion (right brain stuff). So, all that exercise makes your brain strong. In theory.
And all that focus on right brain and left brain thinking, takes your focus completely off your troubles, off your stresses, and sort of...gets your yayas out. The artistic equivalent of punching the heavy bag for an hour. And it lets your spirit fly.
So what do you do if you can't sing well enough to be in a choir? Several years ago, I went through a period of great stress in my life when I took to driving the LA freeways with the windows rolled down and Janis Joplin cranked up on the stereo. I'd sing along with Janis at the top of my lungs as long and hard as I could. Definitely an asshole relaxer.
For more stress releasing spins, head over to visit Jen at Sprite's Keeper.