Throwing the Yogurt (on feeling overwhelmed)

There are systems in my house. I usually cook, my husband does the dishes. I walk the dog Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, Mike walks him Tuesday and Thursday. When I make dinner, I make extra so that I have an easy-ready lunch to grab the next morning.

Sometimes though, systems break down. A system breakdown is generally something I can handle. But if it happens when I’m already feeling overwhelmed, it can result in… a personal breakdown.

And so one morning last week, after a sleepless night spent agonizing over my to-do list, I saw that the dishes weren’t done, I hadn’t remembered to put the leftovers into the fridge, and I didn’t have enough time to deal with all of these things and still be on time for work. I broke down.

And I threw the yogurt.

Now, generally, throwing things is not good. But I’ve never thrown an object at a person, and it’s really not a reaction that happens often. Maybe I’m crazy and this is not at all normal, but personally, I think everyone occasionally loses it.

My mom even shared a story with me about when she threw a grapefruit against the wall, where it left a giant splatter stain as a constant reminder of when she lost it.

It’s an irrational way to express frustration, though. Because then on top of having to put together a lunch, do the dishes and get myself out of there, I also had to clean up the spatters of yogurt coating the counter when the container exploded. My mom had to repaint her kitchen.

But you know what? Cleaning up the cool, wet smears on the counter and back splash brought me the calm I’d been lacking. I let that frustration explode on the hapless yogurt container, saw how useless and destructive those feelings were, and then tossed them out with the sopping paper towels.

I can see how this might not be the healthiest approach to feeling overwhelmed, and I’m not condoning it. Losing control is not good, especially if there are other people in your path. There are certainly much more constructive ways to deal with stress, like meditating or gardening or taking a hot bath. Yoga, not yogurt.

But I also find it irritating to only hear about serenity in stress management. When I’m really stressed, it pisses me off to read some article that tells me to have a hot cup of tea and sniff some lavender to deal with stress. I’m thinking, really? Lavender? I’m more likely to go for the glue right now!

As a blog rule, I try to offer a positive spin on my experiences of navigating my way through the complications of life. But I also want you to know that I’m a real person. I don’t have it all together. I’m just another 20-something doing her best.

And sometimes, I throw the yogurt.

Do you ever lose it? Do you have any tips for constructively managing stress and frustration?

28 responses to “Throwing the Yogurt (on feeling overwhelmed)

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  4. I am literally obsessed with you, Jean. Haha. Get our of my head! Kieran thinks I’m a lunatic when I throw things, but, while I don’t do it often, when I am losing it and I throw something it really helps.

    In general, the wedding planning and what not was really not stressing me out, but there were a lot of things to get done before the wedding including cleaning the apartment so that when we got back it would be a nice relaxing place to come home to. So, the week before, in the midst of cleaning and simultaneously PMSing (which makes me ragey), Kieran was falling asleep on the floor. Then, he decided to go to sleep, which It was fine with.

    But, the one thing he does that really drives me crazy, is leave little piles of his crap on the couch cushion next to him and then never move it. I probably pick this stuff up and move it over to the table almost ever single day. And, on this night it set me over the edge. All by myself in the living room, I picked up each of his things (wallet, inhaler, receipts, pen, running belt thingy, and probably some change) and threw them, one at a time, across the room like a crazy person. I then proceeded to finish cleaning the rest of the apartment. When I was done, I walked back into the living room and saw his things strewn across the floor. By that point I had calmed down, and leaving his stuff on the floor as a “reminder” seems totally absurd and sure to only cause a useless argument in the morning. So, with care, I picked up all his things and put them where (according to me) they belong. Had I left those things on the couch until the end of my cleaning and seen them right before getting in bed, I would have gone to sleep angry about it.

    So, long story short – throwing things saves relationships!

    • Hahaha thanks for sharing your story. So Funny. It really seems to just happen in a flash and then the feeling passes pretty quickly (maybe when you realize that you don’t actually want to be that crazy person).

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  6. I love that you were honest with this post. It’s nice to know that bloggers are just like everyone else and sometimes “life” gets to us too and we need to throw that yogurt too! 😉

    I know you are not condoning this approach, but I’m kinda tempted to try it the next time I get overwhelmed. I might do it with a food I don’t care for so much, like a cream puff! 😀

    • I think I may have suggested somewhere else in the comments… eggs against trees! The exploding is especially satisfying! And the trees don’t seem to mind!

  7. This was a nice honest post, I appreciated it. Sometimes you just need to chuck a yogurt. When I was a 20 something I lost it and threw a whole tiny deck of Old Maid cards at my then boyfriend (now husband). Even though we were playing a game of chance he somehow kept winning. It made me blow a fuse. It’s funny, he’s never really let me live that one down : ).

    • Haha, Old Maid! That’s awesome. Games can really bring out the frustration–my husband told me about losing his temper while playing a certain “old school” Nintendo game (which was apparently un-winnable)…

  8. You know this is the third blog post I have read about feeling overwhelmed. I’m noticing it because in the last two weeks I easily added 20 hours a week to my workload. That would do it…huh? And…very importantly it was a full moon. I didn’t use to believe in that, but as a teacher I noticed things went “wonky” during a full moon. As soon as everyone started chiming in with a story…I would simply ask “Is it a full moon?” Invariably there was a correlation. Yep…another favorite blogger didn’t express feelings of being overwhelmed. She just supplied a photograph of a beautiful harvest moon. Voilá, there’s the correlation of which I speak. It’s the natural rhythm of things.

    • The full moon! Must be! I met an ER nurse once who said the same thing–the ER was always crazy on the full moon, with especially weird injuries!
      20 hrs / week–that’s definitely a big addition to your workweek! I am also looking at a workload increase in our new business (hence the recently lack of posts!). Good luck with all your additional tasks!

  9. Hell, yes! Throwing stuff feels wayyyyy too good. I don’t throw anything valuable, but when times are crazymaking, it happens.

    I try to burn off most of my stress by working out, sitting in nature, listening to music. But it doesn’t have to be foofy New Age — some rock and roll played too loud works well, too.

    In general, when I totally lose it, that’s useful information telling me I am burned out, overwhelmed and it’s time to make time for FUN. Life too often becomes an exercise in administration, not joy.

    • A recent study (must find…) discussed the health (mental and physical) benefits of serious belly laughter. It reminded me that especially when things are nuts, I need to make time to laugh, even if it’s just renting a funny movie!

      It’s ironic that we tend to let the extras like fun and exercise fall by the wayside when we’re really busy, thinking we don’t have enough time (when of course these are the things that keep us sane!).

  10. Jean, you should throw more things! No one would blame you! I am happy you have been channeling Kirby by practicing yoga. I’ve been known to throw things (not at people, but my mom has been known to throw bags of rice0, but find running is a great stress buster. So…I should be training for a marathon in that case!!

  11. Jean! Great to find you…and glad you’re writing 🙂

    I’m all for losing control, especially in fits of frustration. Gotta get it out, let go, and throwing yogurt sounds just right – no one was hurt. Trying to pretend that we aren’t angry, annoyed, or out of sorts just represses it all and keeps it on a low simmer until we really explode – and someone DOES get hurt. Anger is a useful emotion…it points the way to how we’re not is sync.

    Looking forward to following you here…

  12. First, working out is the best way for me to keep myself open minded and stress free! Especially when it comes to going to the gym, kickboxing, or dancing. Working out simply keeps me happy. And it actually works! Well, for me anyways.
    Second, listening to calm music, and I mean smooth jazz, chill lounge, spa type music. And while listening to music all I do is just focus on it and think of things that I desire to do or become in the future. I don’t know why, but it helps me get back to dealing with stressful situations! At that moment I feel like I can overcome any obstacle in my way.

    • Thanks for your tips, Sara. I also find that working out is very helpful. I injured my ankle which has disrupted my yoga routine, and I definitely feel that has affected my ability to Deal. Love your music comment. I will have to try that!

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