Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stress Aftershock and Lessons Learned

As I mentioned before, I had a few emergencies around the same time the other night. I was proud at how well I handled it, and how I stayed calm and focused through the entire ordeal.

The problem is that I think a couple days later it started catching up to me. The aftershock. I tried to plan for a way forward for everything, and I felt like I was seeing warning flags everywhere, which made me upset. I had to schedule appointments with different veterinarians, because some of them didn’t seem to have their you-know-what together. And of course I went straight back to my double fire-drill stressful workload at work (“fire-drill” meaning something came up all of a sudden and has to be completed in an unrealistically short time frame), and I started having an anxiety attack, and running insults through my head to make people go away and not bother me. Hmmm, yeah it definitely caught up with me.

At the same time, I was pushing some affirmations through my head, too. It will be okay. Even if something horrible happens, that is the cycle of life. I’m doing all I can. And the workload is tough, but manageable. Everything is okay. EVERYTHING IS OKAY! Yet I didn’t quite believe myself…

Again, I acknowledge that if you want to play the comparison game, this isn’t even anything. But thank goodness I’ve learned to not buy into that logic, because it only makes me feel worse. Sure, these are not the worst issues in the world, but they are MY issues, and they are starting to overwhelm me. Comparing my issues to anyone else’s is absolutely useless at best and harmful to me at worst. So I’m not doing that.

I was very patient with myself that day. I saw that things were overwhelming me and negativity was creeping into my head. I know now that I need to be careful and gentle with myself when I’m in that state. That was the only day that was that bad for me. I was able to pull it together and get my empowered perspective back, and I wasn’t as grumpy from then on.

The problem is that I put my health on the backburner. I was pulling long hours at work, and drinking Slim-Fasts for multiple meals, because I didn’t have time to cook or eat, and I could just take some sips as I worked. That quickly caught up with me – 2 days of that and I had to leave work early because I felt like I was going to pass out.

Luckily it was the weekend by that time, so I took a full day off to relax, eat real food and take my dance class, but Sunday I worked a full work day to try to stay on top of the fire-drill schedule.

The next week, I maintained my composure and my positive outlook, which kept my head above water. But I was starting to get physically ill. The deadline was the end of the week, so I pushed through. But after the deadline, I collapsed into sickness. Throbbing headaches, neck aches, sore throat, sinus pressure, congestion, complete lack of energy, mental fuzziness… it wasn’t good. I left work early that day, and here I am – the weekend, trying to nurse myself back to health.

So here is what I’ve learned from the experience.

Believe in yourself. I kept trying to affirm this to myself, and I made some progress, but I clearly need to keep working on it. Getting overwhelmed is your ego screaming “I can’t do this – this is too much”. But I could, and I did. I got through it, and deep down I knew I would. But fear still was able to rear its ugly head and cause me some mental and physical harm. It’s important to have that inner peace remind you that, no matter WHAT, you WILL be okay. Any time you spend worrying or feeling overwhelmed is time taken away from actually accomplishing your task(s). Be patient with yourself. These are not changes you can snap your fingers and correct. These are things you have to practice and get better at over time.

Health comes first. I really screwed this one up. In addition to the stress, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, wasn’t getting enough relaxation, and decided to not eat real food because I “didn’t have time”. I should know better, right? You always have time to give your body what it needs, and if you don’t, then MAKE time. It is important enough. I should have made my body a priority, and now I’m paying for that mistake by being sick. Anything else is second. Your body comes first.

Ironically, these were some of my resolutions! And I really didn’t fit my other one in, either, which was making my joys and passions a priority. That one doesn’t even get a blurb because I “didn’t have time” for that, either.

Here’s the thing, though. This was a test. These were my resolutions, and the Uni-verse came in and was like, “These are your priorities, huh? Well let’s give that a little test.” I wouldn’t even necessarily say I failed. I’ve made tons of progress, and I really held it together throughout the whole thing, and I was very aware of the ways in which I wasn’t measuring up. I don’t see this as a failure; I see these as a huge step forward in accomplishing the goals I set in my resolutions. It’s my baseline for the year. I got to see the areas I was doing well, and the areas I need to work on. I got to see how my “suffer until it is done” attitude completely backfires, and is completely unnecessary in accomplishing my tasks.

How would you have handled it? What were your resolutions? Has your determination been tested?

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