February was quite the whirlwind month! I cannot believe we are in March already… Last month boasted the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. With so much going on both in my professional and personal life, blogging was sadly pushed to the back burner. It happens to the best of us, life gets in the way and we need to focus on priorities. Now that things are finally starting to represent some kind of normalcy, I am looking forward to getting back on the wagon and back into the groove!
During this hectic time, I managed to squeeze in some time to do some much needed self-discovery. A ridiculous number of life changing and shaking experiences have been thrown on my plate lately, and I don’t always react in the healthiest of ways. Through a process of learning more about myself, why I react to certain things in negative ways, I’m working on developing healthy and productive ways to work through stress and anxiety.
When faced with periods of stress, I tend to withdraw from people and things that normally keep be calm, sane, and happy, and succumb to my typical vice of double fisting a cigarette and red wine, always solo. Canceling drinks with girlfriends, being disinterested and disengaged in family activities, falling into the trap of of not writing, and other ways of coping are all defense mechanisms I thought were helping me work through my issues on my own, but in the end were hurting me to my core.
Writing for example. Writing has always been a healthy way to express whatever emotions I happen to be feeling at that moment. Whether that be a dark and depressing poem, an excerpt from my novel in which the protagonist is having a fight with her mother, a short story depicting the loss of a friend, or random musings about nature, writing should always be my go to. Rather than pushing my writing aside, along with all other healthy outlets, I need to make it point to force myself (in a good way) to write something, anything, every day. Journaling, poetry, an angry letter I will never send, working on my novel, outlining, SOMETHING. A chance to let my creative side out versus keeping it closed up. I found over the past month that the more I kept that side of my soul under lock and key, not wanting to express how miserable I was feeling, the worse I felt.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a superb support system. My husband, my sister and sister-in-law, my parents and in-laws, and a phenomenal core group of friends are always there for me and willing to help me in any way I need. My problem is I tend to not ask for help and end up hurting myself.
To ensure I do not fall into this downward spiral that is a disengaged trap again, I’ve been working on factoring in “preventative me time.” It doesn’t need to be much. Taking a break at lunch during a particularly stressful day and going for a walk to clear my head, making time to write for at least half an hour in the evening before snuggling up with the hubs, finding a scenic spot by the river and meditating, practicing deep breathing and stretching, or going on a stress relieving run. All of these things are healthy ways to calm the screaming banshee inside of me. Factoring these ways to keep my cool into my daily schedule to prevent a stress and anxiety-ridden build up (that usually ends in a blow up) has been immensely beneficial to my overall emotional well-being.
With a trip to California quickly approaching, I look forward to a week of sun and nature, great friends and family, and most of all unwinding and de-stressing. A week to break away and focus on myself. Selfish as that sounds, we all need to factor in the time to keep ourselves mentally and physically healthy. If you’re anything like me, you focus on keeping those around you happy, often to your own detriment. You need to be in a good place yourself before you can help others. I can’t wait for a week of baby cuddles, scenic hikes, catching up on reading and writing, laughter and sunshine.
Hard as it was to admit to all of this, I think it’s important to be honest about our struggles and insecurities, and to be comfortable in talking about how and why we tick. We are human and have our ups and downs. What matters is how we pick ourselves up and move on in positive ways.
What about you? How do you react to stressful periods of your life? What coping mechanisms get you through those shlumps and how do you get back on board?