Image: Adobe Stock

Have you noticed that some folks always seem uptight?   They have  a short fuse and almost anything  can cause fits of  angst.  Folks who are perpetually uptight usually  set unrealistic standards for themselves and others.  They are always metaphorically wearing boxing gloves and ready to defend their position—at all costs.  They are plagued with the “why me” syndrome: Why did the bird poop on my car.  Why did the light turn red.  Why…..(fill in the blank!)

I get it!  We have just emerged from COVID and its consequences.  Many folks are still recovering financially, especially small businesses.   School age and college students may have fallen behind. Every day there is a new political calamity that gives us pause.  We are witnessing climate change that  makes our weather unpredictable.  We are living through ,and hopefully surviving,  unprecedented stressful times.

The thing is, we should not make COVID the scapegoat.  While our political system has run amuck, we don’t have to.  And complaining about the weather is an exercise in futility.  Some  folks seem to understand that life has its challenges and successfully rise above them. Then there are those that don’t!

Nowadays, I see signs of stress in the younger generation. This saddens me.  They are competitive in their studies or sports and that’s a good thing.  However, sometimes when either or both become all -consuming, it leads to anxiety and depression. The gymnast Simone Biles bravely stepped down from the Olympic competition.  She was mentally exhausted by the demands surrounding the competition. 

Why do we do it?  Why get so upset? Folks who are tightly-wound have no give.  Like a small rubber band, they cannot stretch nor are they  willing to. Ready to snap at any moment, they make life disagreeable for themselves and those around them. 

 I recall a co-worker, long gone, who had a list for everything.  I get the to-do list (I use them), but this was over the top.  She accounted for every hour of her day, including sleep time.  Folks, the list was typed out,  highlighted and taped to her desk.  She had a duplicate at home.  

She methodically crossed off each task when completed.  However, when things didn’t go her way, as often happens, this gal would go bonkers!! Unfortunately, she met an early demise.  I often think of her (like now) and wonder how much living  she missed.

I have a schedule, sort of.  I know folks who live by a schedule—to the minute.  Notice the difference: “have” or “live by.”  Some days things happen that are out of my control and the schedule gets revised; some days I simply decide to go with the flow.  I chuckle as I write this:  When my calendar is looking scary with obligations, I schedule “me time” aka “Ceil days.” 

Living by a schedule is a different animal.  The old adage “There is a time and place for everything” is truly lived out. The rigidity required to live by a schedule is baffling to me.  Here again, I wonder  how much spontaneity in life is missed.  

I may seem a tad too free-spirited for some of my friends.  If someone asked if I wanted to take a trip to Italy the following  week, I would have my suitcase  packed in a New York minute.   While others will parse out every detail, and probably refuse.  

Sure it’s good to have a plan, but it gets  tricky when the plan has you. Consider someone who gets stressed when  planning minor things such as attending a movie. They obsess over every detail turning a fun thing into a stress-filled event. 

Folks who are tightly wound are hypersensitive and take themselves too seriously.  They are more likely to give service folks a hard time.  In shock, I watched a gal at a nail salon berate  the technician, who was sitting  at her feet,  giving her a pedicure.  Tightly-wound folks may harangue the food  server beyond the point of reason.  My dad often said:    “Never trust a person who is rude.”

Uptight, tightly wound folks not only cause harm to themselves physically and emotionally, but cause those they’re in contact with to become uptight also. Stress  spreads like a virus.  Notice when one person is stressed, they may angrily  dump an outburst of nasty  verbiage on another.   The recipient of their tirade  will “catch” the baggage that the other person is carrying.   Volleying snarky nasty remarks is unappetizing. 

Stress is public-enemy number  one.  When our bodies don’t turn off the stress response, it can cause inflammation, which may increase several health problems such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, heart disease and cancer.

I confess there have been times that I felt uptight and overwhelmed. However,  I have learned to be psychologically flexible:  

I know I cannot control everything  and neither can you.

The popular acronym LOL in texting or messaging online should be used literally.  Laugh out loud. Have fun. Be silly. 

Break some rules.  Geez!  We are so attached to our rules that  they keep us stuck in place.  

Give yourself a break.  Actively pursue spiritual practices:  Prayer, Yoga, Meditation, and taking in the natural world go a long way to loosen our grip on life. 

Folks, we are here for such a short time. Live and love like your life depends on it.  It does, you know.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.

Avatar photo
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.