I have the fortunate opportunity to teach teenage girls dance. They provide me with all sorts of challenges and the satisfaction of molding young lives. They also enlighten me to what’s hip these days. I’m only in my mid twenties (and holding on to every last shred of my youth) but these girls make me feel O-L-D. They’re in love with the band One Direction. I think the singers of One Direction look like babies and it would be a felony if I dated them.
Anyway, these young ladies teach me a lot. Earlier this year, they expanded my vocabulary to include a new word: cray. Or, preferably, used twice in succession to be “cray cray”. The term cray is an evolution of the word “crazy” and is obviously much cooler.
All this is to say, that’s what April has been for me: cray cray.
Life has gotten the best of me. I know my weekly average for blog posts has plummeted, and I deeply apologize to the people who’s lives have been so negatively impacted by that.
Why is life so cray? Work. Teaching dance. Volunteering for a huge community event that is happening this weekend. Traveling for work and fun. Having company come into town. Trying to maintain a healthy relationship. Caring for a (dog)child. Mostly teaching and the event I have coming up this weekend have really come to a pinnacle and are sucking up most of my non-work hours. Oh, and I got sick! I haven’t gotten sick in forever, and I was sick for a solid week and a half. It sucked. But, through it all, I feel like I’m actually managing my stress fairly well. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
1. Sleep. Sometimes I fall prey to the notion of “well if I stay up another hour I’ll get more done and be less stressed.” LIES! If I stay up late, I’m not wildly productive nor coherent, and I feel even worse and less productive the entire next day. I’ve been trying to maintain my sleep schedule as much as possible. It’s not perfect, but really trying to get eight hours a night is helping a lot. Sometimes this means *gasp* forgoing workouts.
2. Master your thoughts. I will occasionally start thinking about all the things I need to do. Then I start feeling anxiety about all those things. Then my thoughts and anxiety start to spiral out of control and start wringing my hands saying “I WILL NEVER GET IT ALL DONE!!!!!” This is bad. You have to be able to get a handle on your thoughts. When I start spiraling like this, I have to completely change what’s going through my head. Sometimes I’ll force myself to think about something else, or I’ll use one of the below tactics. The main point is that you have to master your own mind. Do not let a spiral of anxiety overtake you for any more than a few seconds. Practice discipline to stop it as soon as it starts, otherwise you’re losing precious that that could be used either a) sleeping or b) getting something done off that list of what you have to do.
3. Breathe. This is something I learned in yoga: breathe in and out through your nose. Focus solely on how the air feels going in and out of your nostrils. It’s kind of trippy. When your mind starts to wander away, just go back to your nose. Close your eyes. When I can, I’ll sit and do this for a minute or so. I also have found that breathing while listening to a very relaxing song helps to stop the anxiety spiral. I still like taking my morning commute to listen to relaxing music and breathe. It helps set my day right.
4. Move. If I’m sitting or laying and the anxious thoughts start pouring out, that’s when I’ll move. Go for a brisk walk. Get out of bed and stretch for a couple minutes. Stand up. Anything. Sometimes physically getting myself out of the position helps to snap my mind out of stressful thoughts. Also, a brisk walk while breathing deeply does wonders in the middle of a stressful day. Even if it only lasts a couple of minutes, it can help recharge and refresh you to keep going.
5. Affirmations. I feel a little crazy admitting to this one, but it really has been so helpful. Whenever I start to get overwhelmed by all of the things I need to do, I will say to myself: “I will get everything done that I need to. I will get everything done that I need to. I will get everything done that I need to…” I will repeat that to myself 5-10 times. The best is saying it out loud. However, since I do care that people don’t think I’m a complete lunatic, if I’m in public I will say it with gusto in my mind. And you know what? After repeating that phrase I am much more centered and ready to get everything done that I need to! Thus far, I have been able to accomplish all the tasks that have been put on my plate from day to day.
So that’s my story for today. I really miss blogging more regularly. I like to spew my thoughts onto a public space. As soon as this event is over, I should have a bit more time at my disposal. Despite being cray cray busy and stressed, I actually have some fun health-related things going on! I’m just saving them all up in my mind for future posts.
Anyone else have any stress-management tips they employ?