Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day Seven: First I Must Breathe

I'm going to get accused of a cop-out. I can feel it.

But if you know me at all, you know this is truly a step toward slight improvement: today, I will make a concerted effort to relax.

For many reasons outside and inside my control, I get stressed out. My eyes glaze over, my neck muscles and veins become unusually defined, and I think I even snarl occasionally. Is any of this helpful? No, of course not. But it's something that just seems to happen, and cheery Care Bear thoughts don't snap me out of it.

So first, I took a few minutes to stretch out on my back and do some deep breathing. This slowed my heart rate (which had been accelerated to stress AND four cups of coffee), helped ease my muscles, and rethink my day.

The second thing I did was head over to Subway to buy a sandwich. Why is this relaxing to me? Because I rarely eat fast food, preferring to eat something healthy and possibly boring at home. But I gave myself permission to eat something easy that I was craving, and now feel soooo much better. Maybe my body needed carbs? Or sliced onions?

The third thing I did to relax was some intrapersonal communication (See, kids? You WILL use some of those terms you learned in speech class!). I had an internal conversation with myself about what was stressing me out today, and how I could make it manageable.

"Christina," I said in my warmest internal voice, "Let's write a list of the things that need to get done, okay?"

"Only if there are checkboxes," I grumped in reply. "I want to make Xs when I'm done with stuff."

"That's a great idea!" my kind, reasonable self enthused. "And if you do one or two of the easier tasks, you're going to feel a sense of accomplishment which might help this stress funk we're in. And remember: you have all day to get this done."

So I'm sitting here at my computer, pecking away and making big black Xs on my checklist. And guess what? Between the extra oxygen in my brain, the onions in my belly, and the joy of listmaking, I am much less stressed.

What do you do to ease stress?

It's the last day of our Week of Slight Improvements! Congratulations to those of you who have stuck it out and those of you who tried. What three things did you work on today? Anything about the week you want to share? Talk to me in the comments!


megstar said...

Well...I didn't do *exactly* the same thing. My needed improvements were a bit too large to tackle one per day. However, here's where I'm at for the week:

1) I've created myself a budget. (Awesome spreadsheet included.)After crunching numbers for what seemed like hours, I realized one major flaw: I'm wasteful and slightly selfish. Which leads me to...

2) I've made a promise to only buy myself pretty things (*cough* like those pumps and J.Crew dress last week *cough*) when the occasion calls for it. In addition, next week's task is to clean out my closet and give clothes to a local charity. And those clothes I can't part with but still never wear? I will refashion them so they aren't just taking up unnecessary space.

3) Lastly, I've focused on getting myself healthy. Vitamins, eating actual meals instead of popcorn, you name it.

Excellent idea, Miss Christina. You've given me the inspiration to focus on the important things and alter my life in areas that have needed it for quite some time.

K said...

I'm glad that you were able to destress a bit. :o)

I usually clean, watch a movie or TV show, or dance around in an attempt to exercise.

Chris said...

Yeah for de-stressing yourself!
Well, for Improvement week I managed to do the cleaning I had been putting off. And I took control of my frame of mind while at work. I used to allow my mood/energy to be influenced by the complainers around me. But I am working much harder, and more consistently, to not let them bug me anymore.

So, that's something, right? Small steps!

One Sassy Girl said...

I excel at relaxation. The reason for my success? I give so much to my job that I HAVE to claim "me" time and enjoy it. So I do things I love - taking a hot shower with a cold bottle of beer, eating a few cookies from the local Italian bakery and cuddling up in cozy sweats with furry slippers to watch Glee on Tivo. And I'll purposefully ignore phone calls, give the dog a bone she doesn't need to keep her quiet and allow myself to blank out in relaxing bliss.

The Subway sandwich sounds like a freaking fabtastic idea right about now!!

Lemiffe said...

Mhhh... I feel the same as you. I have a severe stress issue, even when I shouldn't. I feel the unbearable need to accomplish everything I have said I would do.

However, I do use organisation methods, such as Google Calendar ( to track events, Remember The Milk ( to keep task lists per category, they can be shared with people and are really useful, and other tools to improve personal control and management.

But in the end, you get used to doing things, and then your mind asks for more, and then you think you can do everything, and you end up with weeks that look like a solid block in a calendar from 9am-12pm, and then everything crumbles down.

Here I lie, with fever and migraine killing me, but we've all got to deal with it somehow. Playing the drums after work would really put me in a good mood in the old times, so I guess it's just a matter of finding something healthy and productive that takes the stress away after a harsh day.

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

I call my boyfriend to yell at him, and he goes "ok what the hell is wrong with you now", and I go "nothing the hell is wrong with me!", but then after 2 minutes of being like "you don't even care about me at all!", I explain to him why I'm stressed, and then he makes it better, and by the end of the conversation, I feel awesome.

... he doesn't let me get stressed often.

Sara said...

I have to say that the conversation you had with yourself sounds really familiar. Made me smile.

Good for you. When you're training to be a therapist, you learn about "self-care", but we're all really bad about engaging in it.

I suck something fierce at it, but I like to think that reading blogs helps!