Making friends with stress

Stress is bad. We hear this everywhere; our culture is filled with pressure to be productive and efficient and all kinds of obstacles that prohibit our success, but doctors are always telling us to “reduce stress.” I guess…get a massage, take a bath, take a long walk, say no more often, “unplug,” do aromatherapy, adult coloring…etc–the list of “stress” treatments goes on and on.

I envy people who can go with the flow, or who would describe themselves as “laid-back” (every guy on Match.com, if memory serves). But I’m a naturally high-strung person. I’m worried, reactive, and paranoid. My brain is a constant flurry of “what ifs.” Sleeping is hard because my brain wants to remember every incident in my life, however irrelevant to my current circumstances. I am always worried about what needs to be done. I’m a type A personality, but also an expert procrastinator. Being in college for four years has helped me somewhat with “time management,” and I’m used to functioning under high stress situations–my job, for one.

As graduation approaches, I’m tentatively taking steps into what my future holds. For the longest time, I assumed I would apply for grad school, not even pursuing teaching certification without a Master’s degree. Now, I’m not so sure. Having a Master’s can earn you more pay, but it can also price you out of a job when districts don’t want to pay that extra. Maybe I should go through the steps to get certified pre-grad school, and keep that on the back burner as an option? Part of me wants to keep the momentum going of being in school because I love it, and not that much in my life has to change–I can still work full-time and take my online classes, and I’m used to the routine of having homework all the time. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I suppose I’m going to start by contacting the New Hampshire DOE to see what their process is for alternative certification. I wish SO hard that I had done the “normal” thing and gone to college right after high school…maybe things would be easier now and I would already be doing something rewarding/fulfilling. Alas, that was not my path.

uncertainty

The uncertainty of what comes next, combined with daily stressors (work, mid-March blizzards delivering 20+ inches of snow) has made me feel like I’m about to explode. Rather than eliminate all stress (unrealistic), I’m trying to make friends with my stress and help it help me achieve my goals. According to Psychology Today, moderate stress can be a good thing: it helps motivate you and prepares you to better handle other stressful live events better than those who experience little to no adversity. A study at UC Berkelely found that exposure to moderate stress actually increased brain activity.

Questions for you, reader: How are the stress levels in your life? What stresses you out the most? What tools do you use to deal with stress? Please share in the comments!

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what’s happiness worth?

leapoffaith

Most Americans hate their jobs. Think Office Space. Let’s present a strictly hypothetical situation:

You work 40 hours (Mon-Fri) at a cubicle-type job. The work is tedious, the interactions frustrating, and draining. Management is cracking down and becoming increasingly punitive and micromanagey. Your colleagues are quietly complaining at the water cooler and in whispers; morale is low. When you get home you (wrongly, of course) tend to take your frustrations out on your significant other and find it hard to focus on your schoolwork (as you do have aspirations beyond this desk job) or other hobbies and passions.

You have no emotional connection to your work. It depletes and exhausts you mentally. You are absolutely the “wrong fit” for this type of job and you know it isn’t serving your mind or spirit. Yes, It’s “easy” and bearable at certain times, and you get some downtime to play on the internet, you’re allowed your phone at your desk. You get paid decent wages (but not a lot) and have good health benefits, allowing you some basic financial stability. But bottom line: you HATE your job.

officespace

Let’s just say (hypothetically) you got an opportunity for a job that was less hours, odd hours (possibly weekends/holidays), and less pay. But, it was a job that aligned with your passions and interests, something you think you could really be happy doing, something that would allow you to use skills and knowledge that you already have. The decrease in working hours would allow you to spend more time on your coursework, thus allowing you to graduate from college sooner and work harder on your eventual goals.

If you had the (hypothetical!) support of your family or significant other, would you take a leap of faith into the “unknown” into a job that could fulfill and satisfy you, or continue to “play it safe” at the job you loathe with a passion? The economy is a reality, sure. But what about happiness? What about achieving something greater than just a bank balance and “stability?” What’s it worth?

As usual, I find great truth in Gabrielle Bernstein’s vlogs. I actually put off watching this video because I knew I WAS “dancing around the perimeter of who I want to be.” I’ve been looking from the outside in at people who have careers that I want, and live creative and satisfying lives. I need to think about what’s holding me back and make those changes happen now. Life is too short to be complacent. That may be fine for others, but I know it’s not for me, not anymore.

Please share your own thoughts & experiences on job (dis)satisfaction and career “leaps of faith.” x

comparing is toxic behavior

comparing

In light of recent events – my boyfriend getting a teaching job and me being extremely bitter/jealous/resentful of his success due to my dead-end job and being at the very beginning of my education – I’ve found myself gravitating towards “positive” blogs. I used to be much more spiritual, much more aligned with love and light, and my intentions were better. I don’t know what happened, but I’ve definitely lost that spark. I hate who I’ve become. I feel completely inadequate and ashamed of my choices and where they’ve lead me. I compare my lack of success to my boyfriend’s success and it eats me alive.

It’s unrealistic, obviously, to expect to be an exact even match with your romantic partner. It is difficult, I’m finding, when you find yourself with a fellow creative person with similar interests, passions and goals. It feels competitive, but it shouldn’t. I’m not sure I want to teach, per se. I just want to have a career that is more tailored to my the things that I love (just like everyone else in the world).

I stumbled across this post by Rosie Hanke, and it really resonated with me, so I thought I would share:

“You don’t need anything more in your life to be someone great….”

Have you ever looked at the lives of people around you and then came back to yourself with a yucky feeling inside questioning why you don’t have what they have or how you could be at such a different place in life than them? *raises hand* I have. It’s part jealousy – part insecurity.

I have looked at my friends’ lives and compared my own life to theirs only seeing the positives in their own and the negatives in mine. I saw how far ahead some of them were in their schooling, in their careers (yes, careers, not just jobs), and life in general. I thought how did I mess everything up so much to end up where I am? ..So far from where I thought I should be and where society said I should be. I was mad at myself and comparing myself to others success only made things worse.

Are you comparing yourself to someone else or someone else’s accomplishments? If so, Stop! When we do things like that we are only hurting ourselves. I came to realize that looking at my life in such a way that could only make me wish I had more to prove of myself was pretty ridiculous. It doesn’t matter where I am in life or what I have accomplished at this point in time- None of those things make me more or less loveable and the same goes for you.

You don’t need anything more in your life to be someone great, or to be more valued, or to have a better looking life— You are already worth so much more than you can imagine. Where you’re at in life does not define your worth.

It can be so easy to fall into a place of self-hate when you compare yourself to others; don’t do that to yourself. When you stop comparing, you open up your world and yourself to a newfound freedom that gives you the magic and the beauty to just be yourself!

Love yourself where you are, for who you are.

Do you ever get stuck in comparing yourself to others? How do you deal with it? Please share in the comments! xo

I have no time.

buddhatime

I don’t know if it’s just the hubbub of moving, being in school, and working full time or what—but I seriously have NO time these days. Weekends are spent doing laundry, grocery shopping or miscellaneous apartment-related tasks; most weeknights I’m in school till 8 or at work till 7, and/or bf has to work till 9 or 10. Very seldom do I get to just chill out and unwind. By the time I get home it’s dark out and time to get ready for bed. I know I’m not alone in lamenting the lack of time in my busy, modern life, but it’s getting to the point where I feel tapped out. Short-term solution? Take a personal day or two, a vacation once I can save up the time (again—time—it’s so valuable and rare)! But over the long-term, what can we do to expand time so that we get to do MORE of the things we REALLY want to do?

I haven’t been to the beach yet this year. I haven’t taken a single walk in my new neighborhood yet. I want to go horseback riding this summer. K and I have a movie list a mile long and we haven’t watched a movie in I can’t tell you HOW long. (Granted, we do play some video games and watch important shows like Game of Thrones.) His family owns a boat and we haven’t been out on that yet. There are SO many things that there just doesn’t seem to be time for, that always get pushed to the back burner. I need my job, obviously, and I’m only taking one college course at a time for now. School is a priority and I shouldn’t resent it, but I do in a way, because it robs me of my free time. I’m so bitter about the timesuck of work, and all day as I answer the phone I think about all of the things I would do, could be doing, if only I wasn’t stuck at work. Then when I get out it’s task time—cleaning, making meals, getting ready for the next day of the very same grind. Oh my god, is this what being a grown up really is?

I thought that when I lived with my boyfriend and no longer needed to carve out “boyfriend time,” we would have more time together, and it would be easier to squeeze in schoolwork and other things as needed. It isn’t, really. If anything the days seem to be rushing past even quicker. Even though I see bf every night, when I come home to him it feels like it’s been centuries since I’ve done so much in between. I honestly don’t know how people with kids do it. It’s SO hard.
Guru/spiritual writer Gabrielle Bernstein made this video awhile back, and I’ve found it helpful to refer to in times of stress–she encourages us to turn inward to inspire us to get through our days more easily and energetically. Things to keep in mind…

Do you struggle with feeling like you don’t have enough time? What are your tips for “expanding” time? How do you carve out time to spend with your family, friends and loved ones, and still get everything done? Leave a comment and let me know! xo