(Hey, I’m only a week late. Of course, we won’t mention the fact that I haven’t posted anything since the beginning of October. shhh!)
But I have a good excuse. The past few months have been a roller coaster. A rather crazy ride of ups and downs with job interviews and the inevitable waiting, second interviews and more waiting, holidays, the shutdown, and getting ready to move across the country. So see? Good excuses.
And while parts have been happy (I got the job), it has also meant loads of stress (shutdown, moving).
Normally when I’m stressed I turn to creative outlets, like reading or writing. But I have a breaking point with stress. When I reach that point, my creativity is strangled. Some writing ideas will bud in my head (my writing journal is full of half notes), but then the ideas just die on the vine. I will pick up a book, only to read a sentence or two, lose focus, and have to put it back down. Then, of course, because of the all the stress, I stress eat (‘m an emotional eater), plus it was the holidays, which means I’ve gained some weight. And that frustrates me. And all of this ends up causing me more and more stress.
It’s a vicious cycle. And I have been playing right into it.
As I see it, there are two main types of stress.
(1) Life-inflicted stress—this is when life happens beyond your control which causes you stress. A perfect current example is the government shutdown. I had no control over this happening but I am personally affected by it (i.e., I’m furloughed and currently not getting paid).
(2) Self-inflicted stress—this is when you cause yourself stress. A personal example is the aforementioned issue with writing. I’ve been thinking about this post for over a week. And because I haven’t been writing, I’ve caused myself more stress by stressing about not being able to write.
So, here’s 3 ways I reduce the stress to more manageable levels.
(1) I do yoga and a bit of meditation in the morning. Nothing too long because my current mental state doesn’t allow me to focus too long. Just 10 minutes or so with some basic poses. I repeat this later in the day if my mind gets too chaotic. I find yoga is a great way to calm my mind.
I start in child’s pose and just breathe in and out. I spend most of the 10 minutes focusing on my breathe and paying attention to how the breath feels as it fills up my lungs. I hold it at the top, and then slowly exhale. I then move into cat/cow and extended puppy, and if I’m feeling particularly good, I may also do happy baby, cobra, down dog, crow (if I’m feeling particularly spry). Then I end by holding plank for 1 minute. Usually, by the end, my body feels nicely stretched and warm and the thoughts in my mind have calmed.
(2) I acknowledge that there are things I have no control over, and therefore allow myself some peace. I have no control over what our elected officials do (except at the polls—so always vote!), even though I’m personally affected by their actions (or lack thereof).
Is the fact that I’m not getting paid stressful? Absolutely. But by acknowledging my lack of control, I can take a step back and focus on those tasks that I can control, like taking a hard look at my budget and cutting out the extraneous (sorry Starbucks, I really don’t need to drink your beverages) and asking for deferments on bills.
(3) I have purged my stuff. Since I’m furloughed, I have a lot of time on my hands and so I admit that I’ve been binging a lot of Netflix and Hulu. But while I do, I’ve also taken some time to clean and purge. My friend over at Alexigraph has written about minimalizing her life and has done some challenges to downsize her closet and home.
I took her up on one of the downsizing challenges and ended up exceeding the goal. I ended up purging over 150 books (which, if you know me, is somewhat akin to a miracle), two bags of clothes, and too many boxes of other stuff. Some things I sold/have for sale on eBay and the rest I’ve given away, donated, or trashed. And you know what, I feel lighter, freer. The challenge has made me reevaluate what I buy, and maybe more importantly, why I buy it.
It’s amazing how much stress comes from owning stuff (but really, the stuff ends up owning you).
So that’s how my 2019 has started and my 3 ways for dealing with stress. How is your New Year going? How do you deal with stress? Have you tried one of my ways? Let me know how it worked in the comments below.