Dealing with Stress - The Campsite Rule - Recent News

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Posted by: Ashleigh Johnson on Feb 10, 2021

Headshot photo of Ashleigh JohnsonAshleigh Johnson
Partner, Foley & Mansfield

In normal, non pandemic years, there is a point where our stress is so bad that we just hate everyone. Not are "mildly irritated" and "annoyed" with people, but literally loathe every person who crosses our path. From our neighbors who keep putting non recyclables in the recycling bins (pizza boxes can't be recycled, Matthew!) to our barista (No foam, Shelly! How hard is no foam!) to people you come across in traffic (HOW CAN NO ONE IN THIS BLASTED STATE DO A PROPER 4-WAY STOP?!? YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY STOP YOUR CAR, NOT JUST THINK REALLY HARD ABOUT SLOWING DOWN! WAS I THE ONLY PERSON WHO DIDN'T NAP THROUGH DRIVER'S ED?).

In 2020, the year of quarantine, pandemic, uncertainty, and oh, that's right, an election year, our nerves were shot, our patience was thin, and quite frankly, some days, more than in a normal year, we just hated those around us.

On these days where we just hate everyone, our natural instincts may be (will likely be) to lash out. To throw Matthew's pizza box in his stupid face while he stands in front of his kids, to yell at Shelly, our minimally paid barista, or to ram the car that tried to sneak through the 4-way stop because, hey, we have insurance, we might as well use it.

So on the "hate" days, I recommend the "Campsite Rule".

What is the Campsite Rule? Well, for anyone who has ever camped, hiked, or been to a park pavilion, the rule is that we leave things better than we found them or, at least, no worse. For camping, it means picking up your trash on the campsite and not causing any damage. If you are able, clean up the trash that may have been on the site when you arrived, to leave the space a little bit better.

On "hate everyone" days, the goal is to do no harm. We don't yell at people out of our anger, we don't throw things at our neighbors and we certainly don't ram the car in the intersection (no matter how much we want to). And in doing so, we help ourselves. We don't damage relationships. We don't experience the "post hate day guilt" — the feeling we get when the day before we took our bad mood out on some poor unsuspecting party who, quite frankly, didn't deserve our wrath.

Remember, on our worse stress days, if we can't make things better, we can at least not make things worse.



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