Archives for posts with tag: managing stress

[Warning: potentially emotive writing about anxiety, and kind of a lot of bitching.]

Some lovely autumn flowers in the landscaping; each positive moment and experience matters so much.

Some lovely autumn flowers in the landscaping; each positive moment and experience matters so much.

I woke already feeling stressed this morning. Work-anxiety. That annoys me more than a lot of things, because I already have challenges feeling ‘invested’ in the job at hand. I like my job, actually. I’m good at it, and it is work that generally appeals to me in a low stress environment. It’s so not worth taking on stress, though. Why? Because it’s someone else’s agenda. Someone else’s profits. Employment supports my logistical needs in life, that’s really it from my perspective. I’ve been emotionally ‘ready to retire’ for a long while. I have my own life that I’d like to enjoy. I have enough things I enjoy and want to do to fill my 24 hour mortal days, already. Every hour I give up to employment is actively resented on some level, and recognized as robbing me of precious time to live my life; fortunately I don’t dwell in that experience. Very few people truly get paid well enough to be a fair exchange for their precious mortal lifetime, fewer still seem aware of that.

This morning I woke with a headache – not quite migraine, but heading that direction – and woke from troubled dreams of treadmills. I’d get off one, get onto another, and always with some implicit promise that eventually I could just stand still for a moment… and that moment just wasn’t on the horizon. There were more treadmills. It wasn’t a nightmare, but I woke feeling fatigued, and with this headache, and “filled with tears” that promptly spilled over as soon as I sat up, as if gravity had something to do with crying.

I must have created a disturbance in the force this morning; I woke my traveling partner without making a sound. I like hugs in the morning, and reassurance and support always feel good. I have mad respect for a human being who will cozy up to the mess I am this morning and get that close. That’s love right there. When I admitted it seems to be “just” work stress, he looked into my eyes with love and said firmly “You know that means you need to slow down, right?” I love that he checked to make sure I do understand that. I love being able to feel good about that moment and not feel slighted that he asked, and able to recognize his love and concern that I take care of myself well – even at work. I could walk away from any job, any time, and he’d be there supporting my decision to do so without reservations – or, without any that would become obvious to me. Sitting in the dark stillness of pre-dawn morning, it is a nice departure from the anxiety of the moment to take time to consider what a good partnership I’ve got with him, and how well he supports me, every step of this very complicated journey. It’s nice to count on that, it’s amazing that I can; it’s a rare being that will offer anything they can do to help – at 4:30 am, having been wakened from a sound sleep by the sense of someone else’s stress – no strings.

Love, as wonderful as it is, and as plentiful, just doesn’t fix some things. I’ve got to address the work stress – and preferably in a positive way that takes care of my needs over time. This morning was a poorly matched battle between my lack of desire to be ‘gainfully employed’ at all, and my  desire to do the job in front of me well. I’d rather sleep in. I could sit in front a keyboard for my own purposes for as many hours of the day as I currently hand over to someone else in return for money. Those same hours could be spent having sex, painting, walking in the forest, out with my camera, reading a great book – or writing one. I mean, seriously? What has my effort at work actually contributed to my experience of life, generally, besides stress and some cash? I wonder, just now, if the experience would be different for someone really into money… It’s “a good job”. I’m skilled at it. There is a climate controlled office to work in, with windows that have decent views. There’s a well-stocked break area. There are, truly, many positives – as employment goes. I’d really just like it understood that I’m not a fan of having to be employed in the first place. I’m willing to admit that. Like so many people, adulthood comes with some handful of financial and logistical obligations that are only eased by money. Dollars and cents. Cold hard cash. A signature on a check. A swipe of a card. Dollar by dollar, my life force, and my time, are exchanged for money. This morning the exchange rate doesn’t seem adequate; time is precious.

...An unexpected shift in perspective...

…An unexpected shift in perspective…

Wow. 800 words of bitching about having to work. Suddenly that seems callous, knowing how many people are without, and would happily exchange many hours of their lives for the cash to pay the bills, and feed their families. My perspective shifts and my brain takes advantage to level me with a new attack; how could I be so ungrateful? How could I be so insensitive? How is it that I don’t have more appreciation for my good fortune when so many others are struggling? Tears. Nausea. This fucking headache. Stress sucks.

I actually woke much earlier than 4:30 am. It was around 1:30 am, then again around 3:00 am. Each time I meditated, and let my breathing calm and soothe me, and found my way back to restless sleep. Stress is a killer, and persistent about continued and prolonged attacks on my contentment and balance. By 4:00 am I couldn’t argue with it any more and got up. The meditation helps; I’m not having a screaming tantrum, blaming the world or my lovers for the state I’m in, or torturing myself emotionally over feeling stressed, or struggling not to cry. The tears come and go. I continue to focus on my breathing and practicing what I have learned about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, mindfulness in general, emotional intimacy, treating myself well, and most recently the new practices around ‘taking in the good’ to hard-wire happiness by improving the positive tendencies in my implicit memory. Yep. There’s science, real science, in growth and change. As I consider each practice I’ve learned over the past (almost) two years, my blood pressure drops, and I start feeling calm and content. Still have the headache, but the tears have stopped, and my typing doesn’t sound so… agitated. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it sure has the potential to change my experience.

What will today offer? What will I choose? Where will the journey take me?

What will today offer? What will I choose? Where will the journey take me?

There’s so much ‘human’ to this experience this morning… yours, too, maybe. We’re each having our own experience. Today, let’s make it a good one, and choose to take care of ourselves with great kindness and compassion. Today is a good day to change the world.

I’m groggy this morning, and fighting fatigue and arthritis pain. Well, not ‘fighting’ them, so much as acknowledging and accepting them, doing what I can to improve the situation, and moving on. Yesterday was one of those busy sorts of days that pushes the limits of endurance, and skill, and ends with a feeling of profound satisfaction in job well done, which was awesome. This morning, however, I am groggy. I was so tired after work yesterday I crashed much earlier than usual. After a couple of hours of deep sleep, I spent the night waking more or less hourly in response to my brain tossing work-related questions at me all night, which I dutifully woke myself to answer, before returning to sleep. It was not the most restful night of sleep I’ve ever had, and waking to the infernal beeping of the alarm, which rarely happens, isn’t a pleasant experience for me.

I feel ‘behind’ on everything this morning. My consciousness feels fuzzy and somehow always arriving late for the moment I’m in. There’s not a lot to say about this state of being. It is what it is. It will pass. It is relevant but unimportant. It’s ‘weather’, not ‘climate’.

Yoga, meditation, a shower, espresso, correspondence, Facebook… and now, a few moments, a few words, the rhythmic sound of fingers on keys; a new day begins.

I have no keen observations on my very human experience this morning…only observations of the most mundane sort: my room is untidy, in spite of my love of order, and this is telling. I tend to descend into disorder under stress. My hands are not as neatly manicured as usual, and I’ve bitten my pinky nails down to the quick; this also tends to be limited to times of stress. In the past 10 days, I’ve had two headaches that felt like transient ischemic attacks, which I had fairly regularly for many years, but which I’d not been having for a long while (about 4 years, I think). I associate that experience with stress, too, although it could perhaps be something else altogether.  Interestingly, I don’t feel – emotionally – as if I am under a lot of stress.

A moment of stillness can change so much.

A moment of stillness can change so much.

I take time to meditate a few more minutes, and return to writing feeling calm and content and soothed. Keeping an eye on stress matters. It’s not generally necessary to exist under that amount of stress; I have choices I can make to alleviate a lot of it. It helps to know where it is coming from. In this case? Work. Yep. Simply that.  I experience some internal conflict over it, because on the one hand – it’s amazing work, I’m good at it, and I’m valued… but feel some performance pressure, nonetheless, to really ‘wow’ the company I work for.  Pretty common, I’m sure. On the other hand? Well, frankly… I don’t place a high value on being an employee, on ‘gainful employment’, or on ‘having a job’, because these are not experiences that define me as a human being. There is so much more to me than work! I’d happily retire this very moment, if I were financially prepared to sustain a simple life of sufficiency for the 30-60 more years I might be around. I’m not, so I can’t… the stress I’m experiencing comes from being aware of how little I actually ‘care about’ work, in the face of how much pressure there is to do it very well right at the moment. Quite a balancing act.  I find myself surprised every time I meet someone who claims to really want to be employed. I’ve been working on figuring out how to be retired since I was about… 18. I have stuff I’d like to do, and so little time for me…

My at home partner becomes a traveling partner tomorrow.  I’m sure I’ll miss her.  There’s a small amount of stress there, too… both partners away for days means a weekend of painting, and I’m so excited about that time for myself, that I have the sense of it being ‘inappropriate’ or somehow unkind. Silliness, and I recognize it as such, but there it is. I am so very human.

I take another moment or two more for meditation, self-compassion, loving kindness, and awareness of how good it feels to have this time to meet such an important need for myself. Content solitude is a precious gift of love, and I’m eager to honor it, savor it, and take advantage of it creatively.

Awareness and presence need no excuse, but do require practice.

Awareness and presence need no excuse, but do require practice.

Today is a good day to be who I am. Today is a good day to be considerate of myself, and others. Today is a good day to celebrate small successes, small victories, and everyday joy. Today is a good day to appreciate that we’re all experiencing our own pain, and to be mindful that a moment of compassion can make a big difference in the world. Today is a good day to be gracious, and to be generous. Today is a good day to change the world.