Take A Break: Learning From Your Stress

Well hello there 🙂 It’s been a long time, I know. And it’s so good to see you again.

I’ve been absent from the blog for a while now, trying to manage all the things in my life without really doing any of it. There’s all the normal day to day of course, the dishes, keeping up with the house, the never-ending floors that either need to be vacuumed, swept, or mopped. Then there’s the other normal bits like work and following up with emails and keeping up with family. And we can’t forget the personal projects, the things we’ve been wanting to do, but just can’t seem to find the time to do. Hang up the new bird feeder, re-pot the plants, wash the car, organize the boxes in your garage. Heaven forbid you actually want some alone time to do some self care. Just the thought of running a bath stresses you out, and that long list of things in your head is only furthering the excuse that “I’m fine, just a little tired.”

How many times have you said that this week? Last week?

“Oh, me? Yeah I’m fine, just a little stressed. I just need some sleep and a good weekend and I’ll be fine.”

But then the weekend comes and goes and you don’t feel better. You don’t feel less stressed or less tired, you just feel less. Less like yourself. Less in control. Less less less.

That’s the stress. Taking a toll on your body, your mind.

All those little things, those little bits and bobs that make up life start to weigh on you so much that you feel like you can’t breathe. You want to cry all the time but have no idea why. You take it out on your partner or your friends, and in the end, you begin to hate yourself wishing you knew what the heck was wrong with you.

Same, girl. Same.

I have the luxury of working from home on a regular basis (not just because of Covid-19), and yet while you’d think I’d get more done, I instead feel like I’m stuck. Wading around in a small kiddy pool of mud, waiting for the weekend in hopes that it might throw me a line and pull me out. I have lists of things jotted here and there, with a few hastily scratched off, written in pen because somehow that finalizes something into existence. And then there are the other things. The things I love to do, creating with the blog, writing my book, creating stickers and logos in my store. All great things that I love to do, but take up so much time. And suddenly they aren’t fun anymore. They’re weights pulling me further into the mud. I’ve got the blog and the instagram and the pinterest and the etsy, all vying for attention. And those are important, right? I feel bad if I’m not posting, or saving my own blog posts on pinterest because somewhere I once read that if you want your blog to boom, you HAVE to utilize pinterest and social media or else your whole operation will come crashing down, and then where will you be?

So I talked to my therapist. Thank the good lord in heaven for therapists. Who are so good at sitting and listening and letting you cry over the things you just can’t see.

“What takes up the most of your time?”

I think. I start giving answers tied together with excuses.

“Instagram, planning and sorting and coming up with the right caption. But I do love it. I promise I really do.

“And the Etsy shop. I love creating! And working with people, bringing them closer to their goals. It can give me major headaches, but I really do love it!”

“The book, when I’m into it i feel so good, like I’m accomplishing something big! But I’m so far away from my goal I’m afraid I’ll never finish. Or worse, that I will and no one will care.”

And then the question that I knew she would ask, but I’m dreading so much my chest is squeezing and I can feel all the inadequate feelings and tears threatening to break free from under my lashes.

“Hannah, who are you doing this all for?”

It’s supposed to be me. I know that’s the right answer. I started the blog for me, to write out my thoughts and feelings, to throw them into the universe like a message in a bottle. And I started the Etsy shop to push myself to continually create and to push the boundaries of my design ability and to share my creativity. I started my book because I love my main character so much, my heart could explode. Because writing lets me escape myself even for an hour, and disappear beneath the waves of fiction and prose.

But somewhere along the line it became about everyone else, and about the appearance of joy and creativity instead of the actuality of it.

“You’ve taken something that gives you purpose, something that gives you life, and you’ve tied it to your value. What would happen if you stopped posting? Stopped writing? Closed down the shop? Would the world fall apart? Would YOU fall apart? What would happen if you stepped away from it? Put it all away in a box, and came back to it when you were ready. Throwing out some things that needed to go, and keeping the things that bring you joy. Bring you life.”

So I did.

I stopped writing, stopped posting, and closed down the shop. I focused on moving to a new house. I re-wrote my purpose statement for my writing. I came up with a plan of attack, a schedule, and most importantly, boundaries. I gave myself space to breathe. I packed and unpacked and opened up my space slowly, piece by piece. I set a deadline to open back up again, but with a resolve to focus on the little things. Not let the stress of missing a post or forgetting a writing session to weigh me down.

Does that mean that every day is a breeze and that I’m no longer tired? Hell no. I’m still tired a lot. And stressed about living in a house that has an abundance of large spiders. BUt I’m trying not to let all that bother me so much. Trying not to let it tie me down or force my head underwater. I’m trying to learn from my stress; listen to it. Let it talk to me about the affect it has on my body. On my soul.

One day at a time, friend. One day at a time.

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