And maybe you too.

I have always thought I loved stress. I create it. I say yes to more than I should and somehow get it all done. I thought I loved the stress. Maybe I do. But this stress is new and it’s unrelenting and I think it’s starting to get to me.

At the start of the pandemic I was stressed as we laid off staff, I was stressed about the future of our companies, I was stressed about the health of my husband’s 92-year-old grandmother that lives with us. Then I got angry. I wanted my freedoms back. It was painful to watch businesses suffer. Simple things seemed hard (like getting storage locker for all the furniture and equipment from the store we closed) or took so much longer (like grocery shopping). I missed my friends.

Then recently I thought I had gotten comfortable with the new normal. I like working from home and the time I save not driving. I’ve gotten more comfortable with zoom for delivering training and social outings. I’ve had many zoom dinners. I’ve learned how to social distance with friends on my deck and do driveway socials. I thought maybe I had passed through to the other side. I thought I was adapting.

Then we reached stage two… and then three…

I have new things to adapt to. I think there are more people in the stores, more cars on the roads. We can eat on patio’s, in restaurants even. We can go to the movies (although I can’t imagine it). Dave and Busters are even open. Do I feel safe enough to eat on a patio? in a restaurant? go to the movies? These were things I did regularly before the pandemic. Shawn’s grandmother has to go for a routine examination. She has to go to the hospital for it. Do we take her? My friends invited me to spend time with them at a cottage they rented. Any other year I would be honoured that they want to share this time with us. This year… I’m not sure. Is it safe? It’s my friend’s birthday and they are doing drinks at a restaurant. Do I go? is it safe?

I see the irony. I wanted the stores to open. I wanted the choice. Now I have it and I’m feeling stressed. I can’t imagine what parents are going through making decisions about schooling.

But is it stress? I thought I loved stress. I love the pressure of everything I have to get it all done. I think it was stress. I think at the beginning I was so focused on handling the immediate challenges I wasn’t looking forward to. I think that was stress. This is different. This almost paralyzes me. It doesn’t motivate me. I think it’s anxiety. Stress is focused on mainly external pressures that we find hard to cope with. But the stress goes away when the situation is over. Anxiety is focused on worries or fears about things that could threaten us. It’s hard to focus when your anxiety is high. The part of our brain that is responsible for rational decision making tends to be less active when we are anxious or stressed out. Maybe this is why everything seems hard, or difficult. Why I can’t decide what training platform to use or what to watch on Netflix, Prime or Disney+, why I don’t seem to have the brainpower to read enlightening books.

I think I’ve named it. Now that I’ve named it, I can deal with it. I remembered early on a Red Table Talk and they talked about anxiety. In this episode, one of the suggestions was to take TIME.

T: thankfulness
I: intention/insight
M: meditation
E: exercise.
and watch out for what you are exposing yourself to.

In another article, it suggested planning your day and focusing on just three things you wanted to get done that day. It also suggested writing down three things you are thankful for and three affirmations. I sense very similar suggestions to TIME. The article goes on to suggest we limit how much time we are spending on social media and the news. Again, I’m sensing a theme.

This article did however talk about monitoring your digital habits. It recognized that our devices were important now but when we were off work time, we needed to be aware of how we were using digital devices. They suggested considering the 3 C’s: connection, consumption and creation. And encouraged us to limit consumption and focus on connection and creation.

This seemed to link up to the recent blog article I wrote about working less. It was in response to not feeling very productive and feeling like I was working all the time. The solution was to find ways to rest. Find activities that didn’t use the same parts of my brain as work.

When I compare that article to what I know now, I think the overworking was in relation to not being focused and not being productive. I think the overworking was adding to the fatigue of the stress and anxiety and everything is compounding. The solutions seem to be the same. Rest and TIME.

I will add compassion. Compassion for myself. Compassion for each other. We are experiencing ings we never did before. We need to be kind to one another and understand that each of us will handle it, deal it and be comfortable with things differently. What I’m comfortable with may be different from you. Let’s just understand that we are each in a different place and love each other regardless.

What about you? Do you think the stress and anxiety of our world right now is wearing on you? What are you doing to manage it?

“I know I’ll be okay and that eventually everything will work out and I know that what’s meant for me will happen. I know… but I just need a minute or two to pull myself together; because sometimes the shit life throws at me gets heavy; that’s all.”