The other week while waiting in reception at my works Occupational Health department, I spotted a noticeboard giving information about stress. Reading through the extensive list of symptoms and the advisory note of seeing your GP if you suffered some or any of them, it was with some disquiet that I realised that I could account for every single one of them.
Further research from various sources confirmed my fears, and now I'm sitting here wondering how best to approach my problems - various websites give advice on managing stress and there are a variety of methods common to them all.
What they do not advise is resorting to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, which I suppose is where I've been going wrong for starters, because after a day at work and driving home in appalling rush hour traffic the first thing I usually do when I get home is open the fridge to look for a beer or maybe something stronger if I know it's in the cupboard.
Clearly something needs to change, so today I got a new beer kit underway which will soon yield 40 pints of bitter which means a ready supply of mental anaesthetic to dull the senses for a while which apparently is the last thing I need. Therefore I need to exercise caution, but that's not the whole story because the process of getting the new batch of homebrew underway was just one enjoyable leisure activity from today that has helped chill me out. The beauty of having a day off work when everyone else is out is being able to relax for a change. I don't need to interact with anyone, I don't have to listen to a teenager swearing profusely at his Playstation while Eminem jabbers repetitively to a bassline that shakes the door in its frame, and basically I can do as I please without having to worry that it might have an affect on someone else.
So along with starting the beer, I've fitted a keysafe to the outside wall, washed the car, done a little laundry, re-watched the finale of 'Breaking Bad', had fried eggs on toast for lunch, and had a go at following a guided meditation on CD that I bought about five years ago. Now I'm sitting on the sofa writing this blog post and contemplating the whys and wherefores of my situation with 'The Sisters Of Mercy' playing because I'm only allowed to listen to them when nobody else is around.
What I need to do is find ways to alleviate stress in my life. It's not as if I have what most would call a stressful life - I specifically engineer things that way - but it appears that my stress threshold is lower than one would expect. Ideally I'd quit my job and do something closer to home which doesn't have any real responsibility or even the need to think too much instead of managing a world-class aerodynamics research laboratory. If we could live on the wife's income I'd happily be a house-husband being creative in the kitchen, doing the chores, and carrying out the odd bit of DIY as needs dictate.
Instead, as my nice day to myself draws to a close with the inevitable arrival home of others, I'm preparing to get started on tonight's dinner knowing that once the dishwasher has been loaded I'll start worrying about what's going to happen tomorrow.
That's the only trouble with time off work - as therapeutic as it may be, at some point you still have to go back.