“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.” – Marie Kondo

The past couple of weeks have been challenging for me because I fell into a cycle of restlessness and interrupted sleep patterns. As mentioned in my last post, sleep deprivation increases my anxiety and my anxiety increases my sleep deprivation.

In these cycles, I begin to fixate on things. I refer to it as “spinning” because the same handful of thoughts will circulate around until something breaks it. The interruption can be as simple as acknowledging it out loud it or taking action. An example of the latter would be if there’s a project left unfinished…just finish it. Even if that project isn’t a priority or even a part of what is bothering you, sometimes completing that one thing feels like a balm on a rash.

So when I began my spinning, I also began my plan of actions.

Although I can’t attack all of my stressors at once, I pick something I can accomplish. Last weekend I finished the majority of decluttering my closet and drawers. I donated a large tote of clothing, shoes, and miscellaneous household goods to my local Salvation Army and kept a small stash of items to resell. Just like most people tend to do, I accumulate items I don’t really need or obtain joy from. A significant part of the prior weekend was making the decision of what to keep and what to pass on.

The result? A much smaller choice of items in my wardrobe which feels like a breath of fresh air, with plenty of room to get creative with each piece’s versatility.

So, this action took care of a physical need. Now on to a mental one.

At times, these spin cycles make me question if I am leading the life I want to lead. This current cycle is one of those. I have had…what can only be scientific classified as…a metric fuck ton…of work stress. This has me questioning if my current field of work is healthy for me or has it become too much. Has the nature of my job changed or have I? [Answer: it’s likely a bit of both.]

Again, I chose to take action. I’m working with a professional resume-writing and career coaching company to revamp and revive my career goals. While it may be taboo to be sharing this because a co-worker or one of my bosses could read this, I am choosing to take this decision as a positive one. I’ve been in my career for just over 17 years and it seems logical that one could feel a bit stale. If I am to stay in my industry, I need to be re-energized and working with a coach can help me re-evaluate my skills and set career goals. As in, sometimes we need an outside source to remind us of what we bring to the table and what we have the potential to bring.

Alternatively, if I do begin a different path, I need to see how my experience translates with the current trends and the confidence to take that leap. This is why I feel my decision to work with a professional on this is a win/win situation. No matter the outcome, it should improve my situation. Instead of sitting in that pool of frustration, I’m doing something about it and, as it usually does, it’s gotta start from within.

If you can relate to any of this, please leave me a comment below! If you feel comfortable, share a way you get through your ‘spin’ cycles. One thing I love about blogging is that we never know who is reading. We never know if our one tip or piece of advice can be a saving grace for another.

How Do I Calm Down? [Personal Tips To Help Find Sanity “In The Moment”]

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My anxiety manifested when I was around 8 years old. While other kids may have self-soothed by sucking their thumb or biting their nails, I began chewing the taste buds off of my tongue. I would chew until my tongue bled, with sores all across the front and sides. It remains my tic to this day.

Unfortunately, I didn’t develop an awareness of how I could better manage my anxiety until the past two years. Here is a short list of tricks I use when stress and anxiety rear their ugly heads:

  • A proactive approach: saying “no” to caffeine. There are times I wake up and I am already on edge. I avoid caffeine on those days, as caffeine is a stimulant and will likely exacerbate the anxiety. Forgoing a morning coffee may sound crazy, given that 90% of Americans consume caffeine in some form. However, from my own personal experience, breaking the habit of regularly relying on caffeine was one of the best things I could have done for my mental health.
  • Deep, audible breaths. The American Institute of Stress indicates that consciously taking big, deep breaths stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which may help bring about feelings of calm. I like to make it a point to listen to my inhale and exhale, as it shifts my focus from the cause of the stress to the noise I am making and how it makes my body feel. If I find myself in an environment where my breathing techniques would prove distracting to others, I quietly take deep breaths and focus on the relaxation of the muscle groups that tend to hold my tension (chest, shoulders, neck).
  • My five senses. When I am suffering from information overload, it can be hard to find focus on the task at hand. When my thoughts are scattered, I will note things I can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. This helps to bring my psyche back to the present reality. It is also a great tool when taking a short break to either walk or sit outside, as it has helped me notice new things about my surroundings.

Using these three methods has helped me to avoid the need for daily medication for my anxiety. How you, the reader, choose to handle your stress is personal and not up for my judgment. I would also like to note that I am not a doctor and nothing in this blog post is intended to be used or viewed as a prescription in any way.

2020 has proven a tough year to navigate thus far. There is so much conflict and uncertainty. It is, in my opinion, the best time to get in touch with and take care of ourselves so that when the pandemic is over, we are stronger, more resilient, and grounded.