On top of everything else, I slept in this morning. It’s not something that happens very often – or ever – and shows the current state of my mind. My morning routine is so structured at this point that any deviation leaves me feeling adrift. In some sense, my mind becomes more like Shiva’s in moments like these. When things don’t happen in their usual order, I find myself confused, staring at a wall, not knowing what to do or what is expected of me. Little decisions, like what pants to put on, seem to have no logical answer. Hence why I probably changed mine at least four times this morning.
When it comes to dealing with stress, it’s not always better to be a dog.
Fortunately, being a human, I do have a number of coping mechanisms at my disposal that don’t involve hiding in a corner. Even when I am in a rush and everything seems to be collapsing on itself, there are things I can do to keep it together.
1. Take a minute to breathe. I know it seems like you don’t have five seconds to spare, let alone 12 times that, but you really do have more time than you think you do. By taking a few minutes to relax and think you are also enabling yourself to use the rest of the time you have more effectively. Thus avoiding pouring coffee in the sink instead of in your cup.
2. Go outside. Nature is always rejuvenating. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a forest less than two minutes away, it still helps to breathe in the fresh air and notice the world going on without you. A bit of perspective is a brilliant thing.
3. Sing. I’m no operatic diva but I always find singing a favourite song helps me feel a lot more at ease, even if only in my head. I fully plan on caroling my way around the agility course during our first run next month.
4. Stretch. Not only does this help ease the tension in your muscles and joints, but I find it helps both energize and relax my brain at the same time. It’s also hard to stress about the items on your to-do list when you are giggling while attempting the happy baby pose. Or maybe I am the only one who finds yoga funny. No wonder my instructor yelled at me so much.
5. Sip something. Could be your morning coffee, could be a cup of herbal tea or a sweet mug of cocoa. I’ve noticed that even a glass of ice water can have restorative effects. When in doubt, it never hurts to hydrate.
6. Vent on social media. There is a reason Facebook is so popular. Often dashing off an irritated status post or text message can help me regain my sense of self. Sympathy from others is a magnificent thing and something we all need when feeling low. It’s good to know that life can really suck for everyone, not just you.
7. Choose the right clothes. Maybe you have a favourite scarf or a pair of lucky underwear. There might be a shirt you think makes your skin look fantastic or shoes that you love to show off. Whatever it is, this is the time to put it on. A pretty outfit isn’t going to solve your problems but it may put you in a more positive head space. It’s the little things that can lure you back from the ledge.
8.Eat the dang cookie. Yeah, yeah, people go on about “healthy ways” of stress relief and I do agree. A fast food binge is probably only going to make you feel worse. But there is comfort in familiarity and if eating something you love helps you relax, then it’s not going to kill you. Besides, food has no moral value. If you indulge in something full of empty calories, you are not a bad person. No more than eating salad makes you a good person. Trust me on this one.
9. Look to the future. Everything ends. It’s trite but I do find perspective in the knowledge that nothing, not even these overwhelmed feelings, will last forever. There will come a time I can play again. I just need to get through this first.
10. Snuggle something furry. Cat, dog, guinea pig, gerbil, whatever you have handy, though you may want to leave the raccoon in your compost bin alone. Everyone reading this knows the uplifting ability of our pets, why not take advantage? It’s one of the reasons we got them in the first place, right? Sure, your dog won’t be able to come up with the thousand dollars you need to fix your car, but he’ll make you care less about the ramen you’ll be forced to eat for the next ten years.
What do you do to avoid spontaneous combustion?