Sunday, November 20, 2022

When the Struggle Bus is Over Capacity

 This week has been long. I think most of the previous weeks in 2022 have been as well. The air feels thick with stress, tension and low level anxiety everywhere I go. From stores to office buildings all the way into our homes, the world as a collective whole has felt tense to me this last year. I mean, truthfully it's felt this way since 2019. Tensions built and pulled back the last two years causing most of us to become accustomed to at least a low level of stress buzzing from our environments at all times, which has led many people to experience burnout. There's simply too many conflicts co-occuring in our lives at once on a constant basis. We can't address them all. There's no space to relax and regroup before the next. Some people do perform better when challenged by a stressful situation, when the event is singular in nature. Having to meet a deadline or having to rise up and out of comfort zones can be stimulating for us, leading to creative solutions. Our brains get a surge of adrenaline. The issue is when the challenges keep coming at a rate to where rest isn't possible, or the problems are not solvable. Maybe they aren't even unique, new or huge, but they're always there, hanging in the background, breathing on the backs of our necks, nagging. This constant state of low level stress ends up feeling like a gray cloud that hangs over us making the air around us constantly thick with a tinge of oppression and anxiety. It's difficult to keep a healthy perspective on life when our daily environment feels this way. We feel exhausted, defensive and agitated. Human nature dictates that we save our small amount of resources for ourselves and our families. People guard their time, money and energy fiercely under these conditions. We find ourselves unusually snappy at others and others to us, thus the cycle gets stronger. Burnout is ugly and uncomfortable. It also feels very personal. I shortens our vision, making us feel like we're the only ones suffering, or even perhaps, that others are the cause of our current blah state. We feel victimized and look for the perpetrator. That all too frequently ends up being anyone who hits us the wrong way, in the wrong moment, causing a backlash from us.

 

Most of the articles written about issues such as this have this nice list at the bottom of things we can do to alleviate the problem. I wish I knew. I don't think there is a singular solution to this complex, worldwide tense state we seem to be experiencing. Between war and a global recession, we are all suffering. The only advice I have is to remember that. We are all struggling right now. Emotions are high and energy is low for everyone. Be kind. Remember we're all human, so practice empathy and compassion when dealing with others. Literally, those things are a skill. The more you practice, the better youll get, and the better you get, the more positively you can affect the world around you, leading to more of the same. We're all in this together.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Sensing Fall

These are my favorite days. The sky is a clear light blue and the days are still warm, bordering on hot, but mornings leave you needing a jacket. Early fall feels full of change. Reminiscent of school days, maybe. Things feel new. The air is light and the trees are beginning to change color. 

I have experienced this change of seasons 43 times now, yet somehow each time feels new. Every year from September through to November, I feel in awe of the seasonal change of fall. Unlike winter and summer, which their arrival never feels pronounced, fall and spring is always short, but beautiful in color and weather. 

I definitely don't live in an area known for beautiful landscapes or pleasant weather. However, I think its important to find something interesting, something positive and something worthwhile in every day, in every environment. 

There is so much stress, illness and unknowns occurring in my family's life currently. There is no denying this as a fact. Still, i try to take tiny moments in my day to search for those things I mentioned above. My brain stores much of my life experiences as sensory information, so its relatively easy for me to feel a calm moment just by experiencing something in my environment that reminds me of calm/happy moments of the past. The smell of cut grass, blooming flowers, newly fallen snow, leaves crunching underfoot... these are all examples of things that bring me peace, joy and moments of calmness in an otherwise chaotic world.

What kinds of things trigger peaceful feelings for you?

Saturday, March 13, 2021

My Habitual Time Sucks

 Shortly into February I took a break, or at least greatly reduced my social media use. I thought it would for sure lend me the time I needed to get back to writing and creating. Ahhh.... Not so much. I had envisioned this waterfall of creative energy just leaping out from my inner, now more focused thoughts. While I did have more focus during this dry spell of social media, it did not produce the time I expected it to in the way of large, uninterrupted blocks. I guess that's maybe what part of the allure is of scrolling endlessly through posts, pictures and videos. We only have a few seconds, maybe a minute, so we pick up our phone to check notifications. Nothing wrong with that. For me, seconds turn into minutes and by the end of the day I feel like I've mindlessly scrolled my day away in small chunks of time. I feel annoyed with myself and vow to do better tomorrow, but then tomorrow comes and with it the same hectic schedule while I once again take micro-breaks with my phone that leave me unsatisfied and overwhelmed. 


What I yearn for is a meaningful experience. A genuine connection. Those can be had online. I'm not one to dismiss the value of internet friendships. There are quiet places tucked away online where we can find kindred spirits and the interaction is full of depth and human connection. I am grateful to have found a couple of such corners. But, somehow inside of my primitive brain lies the belief that more is better, so I set out to find a hit or two of dopamine in the way of scrolling and app surfing.


I guess I am just thinking out loud, so to speak. I don't have an answer to all this and am not expecting any from my readers. I find it a productive process to empty the contents of what has been lurking within my brain, going into circles onto a page of neat lined words, and pretty paragraphs. This is a physical release that allows me to view everything from a different perspective than the one I have as a running stream of thoughts inside my mind. 


When I began blogging something like twelve years ago it was mostly about my children's autism. Then that shifted to advocacy. I also became aware of my own autism during this last decade, so I filled many pages about my own experience as a woman with Asperger Syndrome.  A few years ago I opened the content to include my thoughts on introversion, as well. My particular writing style has bent and shaped itself around these topics offering new paths for me to explore as a writer. I think it is this style I like the most. There is no point to prove or confining topic to be boxed into with free style writing. The words flow as they are inside of my thoughts onto this space with the only challenge being for me to adequately piece them all together in a way that conveys my vibrant inner world to readers.

As I work to assess my habits concerning time management I hope that I can slowly reintroduce the idea of journaling a few times a week to as a tool for introspection. I think it would be helpful to me, despite if anyone else were to read what I write, or comment about it or not. 


If you are reading this and want to reply, do you do any sort of journaling? What kind? If not, what is your creative outlet that allows you to release your emotions?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Couch Days

This was definitely a couch day. 

I awoke to colorful kaleidoscope images growing until the patterns disperse like fireworks in a 4th of July sky behind my eyelids. At the moment of semi-conciousness where my slumber ends and I fill into my body from the dream world far away I am welcomed by these dizzying colors. I open my eyes to try to focus through the fragmented light patterns as they fade into the dimmed sunlight that crosses the foot of my bed.

It's a migraine and vertigo state I have found myself in.


These days are not long, or short. They just are. Malaise and melancholy are states of being that defy time. It's an awareness of pain, confusion and blurred content all at once. It's a brain fog that submerged all thoughts into a dense tangle, leaving me to wonder what I came into rooms to do, or finding myself in front of an open refrigerator with forgotten plans. I wander through these days feeling far away and lonely, as if the physical pain wasn't enough. 

I find some kind of solace in the routines I follow for comfort. I settle into my favorite spot on the couch. The familiarity of this spot, of the space that I call home envelopes me. Strangely, these walls feel both confining and soothing. I'm both grateful and resentful for this life. 

It's approaching midnight, pulling this day to a close. I stare out the window before making my way to bed. The January sky is a muted glow of heavy clouds, illuminating the bare branches of the trees. Maybe snow? Winter nights feel so hushed and still. I love the way street lamps light the empty streets and glowing windows dot the houses with cozy people inside. 

Surely the morning will greet me with a different story than today, a blank narrative for me to influence.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Surviving 2020, But How?

 Today while I was out running some errands I took note of the misty gray sky and the chilly temperatures. My stomach kinda pulled in as a familiar feeling of low dread began swirling through it. With a heavy exhale I realized it was my body remembering the winter blahs. The short,  dreary days where everything is gray and brown outside leading to an evening of early darkness that seems to drag on and on.  


I'm not the only one feeling this way. Somehow, the entire world seems to be on an exasperated negative energy shift. I was not aware that this kind of restless melancholy could be shared with so many on a global level,  but for the majority of people I know, it seems to be.



So, what can we do with all this stress and turmoil we're finding ourselves reeling in from day to day? I certainly don't have any answers that will be applicable to everyone, but I have do have some suggestions to try, and possibly tweak to fit your own life.


Find Ways To Connect:

 

During quarantine this is hard. As a matter of fact, quarantine/social distancing is probably a huge part of why everyone is out of sorts. Humans are social animals, even as introverted as I am, I need to have some kind of social contact with others, even if it that contact is different than that of an extrovert.


If you're someone who really misses socializing in person there are some volunteer opportunities that may be available in your area. In my area there is still a soup kitchen that runs on volunteer work as well as people needed to help with the food bank. I'm sure there are more activities than that to choose from, but those are two that I know of.


This one might be a little counter-intuitive, but I absolutely think it's helpful to many of us. Lean into social media selectively. Find groups to join on topics you like. Share your passions with others and encourage them to share theirs. I belong to more than one group on social media where the people are positive and supportive. If you don't have this, or can't find one,  create it!  Find apps that link like-minded people together from around the world. I have personally used some of these apps and it's so much fun learning about other cultures and people. 


Be nice. That should go  without saying, but for real you guys.... whether it's in person or online maybe skip the negative comments and leave positive ones. Sometimes I will see something that is just super rude or out there on the internet (no way, right?! lol) and I will begin typing my angry response with zero fucks to give about how it's coming across, but then I will ask myself if I would say that very same comment to the person's face. Usually, I admit to myself that I would probably either word  it differently or just say nothing, so I choose to do that online, too. It takes a lot of practice and I'm not really great at wording things the best irl, but I'm trying. With that being said, be liberal with your kind words to others.Kindness costs nothing. Give others encouragement and recognition frequently. By building others up you will also feel a positive boost in your own mood.


Learn or Do Something New:

 

You might learn a new skill, language or instrument. Maybe you might decide to start a new fitness routine, or genre of books. You could foster animals or learn a new video game. Big or small,  it doesn't matter. Changing up and expanding our lives and routines can lead to a greater sense of well being. 


Self-care

 

I know this phrase has been overused. I'm including it anyway, because self care is important. It's not always obvious, though. Self care can mean monitoring our own thoughts and behaviors and modifying the ones that have a perpetually negative outcome. That is hard, takes practice  but necessary for happiness. Maybe you don't sleep enough, drink enough water, feel a certain down kinda way after talking to a specific friend. See how changing these influences and behaviors might contribute to a more positive mindset. 

 

How have you been coping lately? Have you ever tried any of these ideas, and if so how did they work for you? Let me know in the comment section. I am genuinely curious.