Keeping Calm in the Face of Daily Chaos
SCREAM, SHOUT, LET IT ALL OUT
Typical morning routine: wake-up, stretch, pet my cat, stare at my ceiling and think about what I’m going to do that day. It’s not always the same every day but it’s usually some variation of that. I like my slow and steady mornings and will usually set my alarm hours earlier than I actually have to wake up so I can spend my time with myself in the morning.
OH, BUT NOT EVERY DAY. I woke up yesterday and looked out my window *squinted* something wasn’t right. I shifted the blinds, still stuck in the heaviness of my morning, and felt the first icy pangs of intense anxiety. My heart sped up and my ears felt like they were stuck in a hot vacuum. My car was gone. I adjusted my neck to an unnatural angle, hoping I was just not seeing the driveway correctly. I ran downstairs and opened my front door. It was really gone. The sun wasn’t even fully up yet, the sky was still a purpley blue and the birds were just starting their morning routines as well, and my day had already been *ruined*.
Momma Wisdom: "this is just an event in your life, not your whole life."
I spent all of yesterday and today on the phone with police, my insurance agent, and my mom, with many tears in between. My body felt weird. It still feels a little weird. It feels like I’m just getting over the flu and a breakup all at once. You know that feeling? There’s an intense feeling of heaviness and sadness mixed in with a bit of apathy because apathy is a better feeling than one of rage (somebody took my only real possession after all! One that isn’t even paid off yet!) I’ve always said that if I experience any emotion on a scale 1-10 that’s over a 3, I cry - happy, sad, angry, anything! I feel things so deeply and personally that I have a hard time even watching the morning news (but I do because that shit’s important, y’all).
This is when I have to repeat to myself something my mom taught me when I was very little “this is just an event in my life.” My life isn’t over. I’m not hurt. I still have the people I care about most. This one event doesn’t define the way the rest of my life will go. It maybe guides the way most of my day or week will go, but it doesn’t even have that much power. I need to stop letting it dictate how I feel. That being said, I just wanted to share with you the simple reminder that comes from the great momma wisdom that we all need to hear every once in a while: Breathe, you got this shit. Just because someone hurt you or took advantage of you doesn’t mean that you don’t have total agency in your life anymore. Just because your day is interrupted by a traffic jam, missed flight, or a theft that just SUCKS, doesn’t mean that you can’t totally own your day. Keep flyin’ high, momma and share that shine! Because one day this little incident is just going to be another story. And that’s how you own the debris of that no good, rotten day.
Additionally, from a health perspective, living our lives with chronic stress and anxiety, which is WAY more common than we'd like to acknowledge leaves us tired, sad, sick, and in the midst of a negative feedback loop of inflammation. Stress causes our adrenal glands to work overtime and increased cortisol in our bodies can lead to a myriad of health issues - sugar-cravings being the least of the problems. Don't let life's little potholes have control over your health. Shake it off!
*All that being said, you are totally allowed to be angry and frustrated and own these feelings too. Just don't let them crowd out all the other feelings that may need more attention. Anger, sadness, and frustration have a way of being louder and more up-front than our other feelings. This is just a friendly reminder to feel what you feel and own it, but keep perspective and shine on, lady loves!
My Top 5 Ways of De-Stressing on a Crappy Day!
1. Bubble Bath: A bubble bath is pretty much always a good idea for any day. I like to prepare my perfect bubble bath like I'm setting up a gift for myself. I gather everything I'll need and put it all within reaching distance - you don't want to have to walk around in soapy edition of your birthday suit looking for a new razor! My go-to bath combo: eucalyptus in my bathtub for its calming aromatherapeutic benefits (eucalyptus bubble bath, Epsom salt, and live plant!), a glass of wine or tea, lavender essential oils, a good podcast or playlist, and the right lighting (key!). I like to turn off the main light and bring in a small lamp with soft lighting. Your mind might want to wander back to the stress of your day. That makes sense, it's the path most traveled in your brain. Try to block it out. This is your time and stressing out about something in this small block of time that you've carved away for yourself won't fix any problems. Let yourself have a break and come back to it with a clearer mind - ready to make decisions and take those problems on!
2. Lavender Pills: I'm not usually a pill person. I don't like to take a pain pill if I have a headache (I just like to complain about it). But I've found that lavender pills really REALLY work for me. I like to take just one right before bed and I can actually feel its calming effects working. I'll also take one if there's a particularly stressful moment in my day - like with plane turbulence or when my car gets stolen. But that's only with more extreme circumstances. Studies show lavender pills may serve as a safe replacement for benzodiazepines.
3. Go for a Walk (While Listening to Music): Sometimes a collection of minor stressful events translates itself into a lot of nervous energy. However, one of the annoying things about stress is that it can make us feel tired. This is when I like to go for a light walk around my neighborhood, a park, or outside of where I work. Walking doesn't take a lot of energy and by putting music or a podcast on, I can block out the world and my cortisol-inducing intrusive thoughts. Bonus: I go through phases where I feel more social anxiety than what I would consider "normal" for myself, and that's okay. That's just another sneaky side effect of stress. Putting headphones in and listening to anything that strikes me as inspiring (usually Dolly Parton) helps melt that social anxiety gets me out of the house. I've created my own world for just a bit and I'm gonna keep on living in it, thank you!
4. Bird/Nature Youtube Videos: I discovered this one by total accident. I sometimes put bird videos on for my cat while I'm working so he'll focus on something other than belly rubs for a bit. However, I found that listening to uninterrupted loops of birds, wind, and other nature sounds while I'm working helps keep away those jitters that can creep in when I feel like I have a million things to do. Just type in "cat tv" - it's weird, but it works!
5. Volunteer: I own the fact that sometimes I feel like I have so much to do that I don't have time to do a single other thing that isn't on the schedule. But when I carve away just an hour here and there to do something that isn't a part of my own agenda, I find my brain feels relaxed, regrouped, and re-focused. I feel like I come back to my work with fresh eyes. I like to volunteer on a farm since it's another way for me to get my anxious energy out, make new friends and learn a whole lot!