The Writer and the Stress Monster

The start of school this year as been harder than usual.  I haven’t gotten much writing done in the last five weeks.

I haven’t gotten much done at all.

No going to the gym, keeping up with family or working around the house.  I go in early and I leave late and nothing seems to get better.

And then there is the manuscript sitting on my desk.  It is a sad and lonely thing waiting on its author to return. I can hear it crying at night; begging me for attention.

img_1273
Notes for my upcoming book. 

The stress monster took me down hard these last couple of weeks. My body clasping on the bed so many times with sheer exhaustion pushing me down. It creeps up and steals time and energy away from things I love and want to spend time on.

Friday was by far the worse. Friday, I cried at work.  Friday, I came home and put myself to bed with a stress induced migraine. I had to cancel plans with old friends.

It is in ways a never ending battle between the stress monster and myself.  I try to be proactive and plan, but if you have ever been in a classroom or even step outside your door in the morning, you know that planning doesn’t always workout.  You also know that going without a plan also doesn’t work.

Planning helps keep down on the stress monster attacks and if you like my godfather has contingency plans which have contingency plans. This won’t stop the attacks, but it will lessen their power.

This weekend, I rested, did lots of self-care and was able to get my mind back in thinking order. Self-care is important.  You need to  keep  taking care of yourself before and after attacks. Routines like walking the dogs and eating dinner with my family are all forms of self-care.  They are like taking vitamins. Life is full of stress and if you think the only way to succeed is to never take care of yourself and just go go go, you might be superhuman or headed for burn out.

img_1399-2
The Morning Walk

Push yourself, yes, but also take care of yourself. Mediate or pray, whichever feeds your soul daily.  Yoga and going to the gym on a regular basis.  Talk to and take part in the lives of your friends and family. My family life is incredible important to me.  I make time for it as well as for my writing.

Last week, I didn’t make writing goal.  This week, it is tempting to double the goal in order to catch up.  Some sage writing advice from years ago warns against this and over the years, I have come to value it.  Doubling the goal isn’t going to get me to a finished draft faster, it will just make me a little crazier and invite the stress monster.  However, if I set a reasonable goal for the week ahead and I surpass it then I feel more accomplished.

You can’t get rid of stress or how much is piled on to you from day to day.  You can change your reaction to it and take better care of yourself.

This week, my writing goal is to write five pages a day or 2,000 words.  My fitness goal is to make it to the gym at least once and my work goal is to leave at 4:30 everyday if I don’t have a meeting planned.

As for the stress monster, I plan to combat him by getting a little more rest, drinking plenty of fluids and leaving my superhero cape in the closet.

 

Advertisements

No Spoons, Today.

stainless steel spoon
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I ran out of spoons on Monday when forces combined to make my normal day, mentally three times longer than usual.  There were some physical challenges as well. All of which resulted in this writer feeling like she had been run over by a semi. A semi that backed up and did it again and again for three hours straight.

First, I went into to the day job on Sunday.  Four or was  it five hours later, I walked out the door without having accomplished what I had come to do.  There was no time when I got home to commit to my normal self-care/maintenance. The morning rolled around and the list of undone things was weighting me down before I even got in the car for the drive down the hill; unknowing leaving the dogs unsecured which would lead to the demise of some unattended baked goods.  I wouldn’t know about that until after my workday had ended.

The spoons ran out, because they aren’t limitless.  No one has limitless amounts of energy in adulthood when it comes to doing our day to day tasks; especially people dealing with chronic illness.  Think about your day and what exhausts you the most. Everyone has task they do that wear them out.Now, sprinkle some anxiety and depression and the number of spoons you have in a given day may not be as many as you think.

Even if I had been able to come home and do my thing on Sunday night, the spoons would have run out.  No matter how carefully you take care of yourself, bad days are going to happen.  It is like that expression, you can’t change how people treat you but you can’t change how you react.  You can’t change the bad day,but you take care of yourself afterwards.

screenshot-20
My latest Minecraft world. 

So Monday night, there was a detour on the way home to replace the baked goods and get a bottle of wine.  After talking the dogs for a walk and declaring that I had no spoons left, I retreated upstairs.  I did the bare minimum of writing work, mostly composing the first draft of this post, played some Minecraft and went to bed.  Yesterday, I did much the same except for making sure that I took twenty-minutes to eat my lunch and compose myself before tackling the second half of my day.  The day went much better, still exhausting, but better.  We had pizza for dinner. Although I was prepared to make dinner as plan, I did not turn down the offer to eat out.

This morning, I woke up rested and feeling much better with eight hours of sleep under my belt.  The day is going to be long.  There is a meeting first thing and then the day gets into full swing.  I may feel drained at the end of the day or I may be alright. Either way,  there will be self-care tonight in the form of dinner with my family, a walk with the dogs and a glass of wine before curling up with a good book.

How do you take care of yourself? Is self-care a part of your daily routine?

Lucinda Rose is an author and teacher living and working in the mountains of Virginia.  She is the author of Blood Child, a paranormal mystery and is working on her next project, Shadow’s Tale.  You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagam