During my working career of some 35 years, I was pretty proud of my stress coping abilities. Probably because I was adept at passing my stress onto my co-workers/subordinates. For me, ‘stressed’ equals being unable to get back to sleep at night due to worrying, and/or feeling paralyzed as to “what action should I be taking right now?”
Recently, I became stressed while trying to prepare for my house being torn apart and put back together, in preparation for a long-overdue major remodeling project. Major stress/borderline panic occurred when I started packing everything up (kitchen, baths, closets) and had to convert my Ceramics Studio into space for kitchen/cooking/clean-up plus makeup/hair/brushing teeth plus ‘safe house’ for my cat. Also, seeing the budget grow and writing the initial checks put me on edge. I started to question myself:
Am I too old to deal with such major changes?
Have I lost my abilities to cope because I’m past my prime?
Thank goodness, some good coping mechanisms have kicked in, and the stress level is under control at least for now. Here are the things that worked to turn nightmarish frustration back into a fun adventure:
Taking deep breaths — Gulps of air helped clear the mind and make everything more manageable.
Talking about it — It felt great to bend the ears of friends and pretty much anyone I encountered. I know everyone will get tired of hearing about my remodeling project, but for now they were a sounding board and helped me figure out the best way to plan for the changes and getting prepared.
Getting help — At the ultimate panic point, I was overwhelmed with the amount of work that needed to be done. I was running around in circles and I feared I was never going to finish. That’s when I knew it was time to get some help — no sense drowning when I could get someone to rescue me! My wonderful niece didn’t hesitate when I asked her to pitch in. She ended up doing lots more than I initially asked of her, and she offered her assistance over the rest of the project. Just knowing I could reach out to her made all the difference!
Exercising — For the most part, I did not let my stress get in the way of daily workouts. It was important not to let myself start thinking that there are other things more important than working out. It’s all-too-easy to think up excuses for NOT going to the gym — and I could quickly regress to needing to be convinced to go to each and every work-out session. Once it becomes a habit to NOT go to the gym, that’s a very bad habit and very hard to overcome. What a slippery slope!
Anyway, it seems like I’ve got some good tools to overcome the stresses of this otherwise wonderful project. But we’re only in the initial weeks of actual destruction/construction. To be sure, I’ll be sharing lots more over the next few months.
[Img.Src: bear, house]