Archive for the ‘coping’ Tag

Three Quick Things

So I’m trying a couple different things to address the surge of negativity and sleeplessness, including an online anti-anxiety workshop and some offline-not-for-publication personal writing. Both help in small ways and I feel good about the prospects for success. It’s a process and a journey, so it won’t be quick or sudden improvement, but so far so good.

The small bits of progress have yielded some results, though. Here are a few I’m counting in the plus column:

1. Spending time doing art is a positive coping strategy. I have been working with my sister-in-law learning a new technique for stone-inlay on metal. I’ve made keychain fobs for my local staff for holiday gifts. It’s been really fun and the process has helped take my mind out of the stress while I focus on the art. Here are some pics:

2. During the process of making these, I kept a running series of posts on Facebook. Lots of people liked and commented on my posts and pics. I’m proud that I was mindful throughout and was able to gratefully accept their praise and compliments without diminishing or deflecting them. That’s a skill I have been working on for a long time with mixed results. But a really great, in-depth text chat with a friend and application of some of the anxiety workshop info have helped hone the process. Still a long way to go before I’ll ever be comfortable simply saying thanks and nothing more, but this project was good practice in gracefully accepting a compliment.

3. Finally, I took action to put myself (my home life, really) first, above the job – an activity that has been a great source of stress and anxiety for me throughout my career. Putting myself first is always a struggle, in large part because of early childhood training to never be selfish and always have a Christian, “servant’s heart”. (I’ve written a bit about that on this blog before.) That cultural conditioning is what the anxiety workshop coach calls a mental “sticker burr”, like those little thorny brambles that stick in your clothes and hair and skin, pricking and irritating until you do something about them. Those social lessons that stick in your head and jab your conscience until you change behavior (like “don’t be selfish “, or “smile and be sweet”, or “don’t be negative”) can really amp up the stress when your adult mind and sensibilities rebel against the childhood training, especially when the adult response is more appropriate to the situation. In this case, I’ve been conditioned to value hard work and company loyalty, and to put the company’s best interests above, my personal desires. That has translated into not taking time off during the busy quarter-end periods of the year, despite that nearly all major holidays fall near a quarter end. Yet this year, my family wants me to be a part of a special Christmas celebration that will require me to travel (and, thus, be away from the office) two days next week that are not treated as holidays by my company. Taking two days of vacation at the busiest time of the year, especially when my staff will all be working, was a ridiculously hard decision. Far harder than it logically should have been. But I chose my family and home life over the job and it was the absolute right thing to do. I’m gonna try to not stress over it. I admit that I’m anxious about how my absence those two days will impact my team. But they’re all professional adults and my not being in my office won’t break any deal, so I’m faking it ’til I make it and going on my little trip and will have a good time. That commitment to myself is the positive out of the anxiety-inducing decision.

Progress, even small and (experientially) glacially-paced personal growth, feels good. It’s nice to chalk up some wins over the stress-monster in my head.

Happy holidays to you all. May your season and the coming year be full of light and joy and love. Thanks for sticking with this blog and for all your encouragement.

Coping with the Sky

I’ve had a couple of extremely high stress days with the added bonus of high anxiety along for the ride. Sleep is still next to nonexistent and I’m having trouble keeping my tongue on the civil side.

But I’m trying out a coaching group to try learning new skills to tackle the anxiety. Only had one meeting so far (last night) and, honestly, I think I’ve had more anxiety today trying to assimilate what I heard and schedule time to do the homework than I had before I signed up. But I’m going to see it through and give it a fair chance to help me. Something has to work eventually, right?

Until then, I have to find ways to cope with it all. Indeed, identifying what I do to cope is one of the homework assignments. So, bonus, I get a post to keep my streak alive and do a bit of my workshop work at the same time. Win!

I already know one thing I’ve always done to cope with stress – I look up at the sky. #Lookingup is sort of meta, in that the activity serves to lift my head physically as well as lift my heart and spirit. Watching the sky change from moment to moment, seeing the beauty in its infinite variety and depth, watching the birds revel in the freedom of their wings through its vast spaces, and hearing the movement of air through the trees all make for a relaxing, uplifting experience. I’m particularly fascinated with the light of the sunrise through the bare branches of trees – the interplay between light, color and shadow never fails to awe my mind and calm my spirit.

Taking pictures of sunrise, sunset and everything in between that occupies the sky is a favorite pastime. I’ve posted quite a few of these on this blog and I hope they haven’t worn out their welcome from you all, especially since there’s a lack of variety among their locations. I do tend to be near my office for most morning and evening sky opportunities.

Since this week has already proven itself to be impossibly difficult, it’s only right to acknowledge the beauty of this week’s skies. Here is a sunrise from Sunday, as well as sunrise and sunset from today. These glimpses of heavenly loveliness have been the best parts of my week so far.

I hope you are finding beauty all around you and good ways to cope with what’s not so lovely in your world.

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