Let's start with the first admission: I'm horrible at de-stressing. I can stress myself out with ease. But when it comes to unwinding from the stress, I find it difficult to achieve that calm state. I've had to learn fast over the last couple months because there has been literally NOTHING I could do about Met Life being arseholes and dragging their feet about my short term disability. (Yes, it finally came through. That was a huge relief to me too.)
Let's start with the definition of stress. Merriam-Webster online dictionary has an excellent and comprehensive definition of stress here. We're most interested in two of the aspects of this definition: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation and a state resulting from a stress; especially : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium <job-related stress>.
Stress can be a cause for a lot of short term problems. Tension headaches, back aches, neck aches, body aches in general. It can cause loss of appetite, sleep loss, tension between people. It can also lead to a depressed immune system because of the physical depredations on your body caused by the stress, which opens you up to every sickness out there.
Now, if you're like me, being sick stresses you out too because damn it, you don't have time to be sick. There are books to be written, chores to be done, people to be dealt with. Life has to go on and you don't have the time to deal with being sick on top of it. Yeah, that doesn't help you any either. It just makes the sickness linger longer, I've noticed.
De-stressing is a must in these kinds of situations. I'm not a person who de-stresses easily but I've found that these specific things work best for me. First, shut off all the damn electronics. Yes, even the cell phone. Yes, the laptop/computer/tablet. Everything. Turn out the light. Bury yourself under the covers. Take a nap if you feel like it. But if you don't, spend some time just curled up in the dark. If your mind has a tendency to wander to topics that stress you out in times like these, force your mind away from these thoughts. Make them go to something else. For me, I made it go to one of the books I'm writing. I worked my way through several scenes that way and it helped relax me.
Music. I know it's been said before to listen to music. But you have to pick the right music. Music that increases your heart rate is not going to help you de-stress. Pick music - or some kind of nature sound if that's what you prefer - that is going to lower your heart rate and soothe you. I recommend Ed Van Fleet's "Oceans". It combines the sound of the ocean with gentle music. It's very nice and soothing if you like that style of music. While you're listening to it, try not to think of anything. Just focus as hard as you can on the music. It's hard at first. Your brain wants to run through everything that's stressing you out. But don't let it. Focus solely on the music and let your body relax. It'll help.
Tea or hot chocolate. Try for non-caffeinated tea if you can find it. Caffeine does drive up heart rate, which can lead to a higher stress level. I know chocolate has caffeine in it. But the caffeine level isn't as high as it is in say green tea or black tea. Besides. chocolate triggers all those lovely endorphins in your head which lead you to happy places so hot chocolate is beneficial in that way too. Forego the coffee when you're stressed, or go for decaf which has less caffeine in it if you must have coffee. But try for something with as little caffeine as possible.
Finally, find something that makes you happy and do it. Writing can be stressful for us writers, so sometimes we have to put the pen/word processor away and move on to something else. I knit, so when I got really stressed out this past month I dug (and yes, I do mean dug...the stuff was buried in the bottom of my closet again) out my knitting and started knitting a scarf. I need a new scarf anyway and it gave me something to do that kept me busy but helped me relax. I watched movies. I read books. I knitted. I steered clear of being online or writing. And it helped. Sometimes unplugging is a good idea to help with your stress.
These are only the things that work for me. There are so many books, self-help gurus, podcasts, vlogs, blogs, etc. out there on how to do this that I'm sure you'll find a hundred different tips on this. These are just what have worked for me. Please find your own and use them to help you out of stressful situations. If you've got one you'd like to share, please do. I'm always looking for new ideas to try to help with de-stressing.
I'm feeling much better these days. My stress levels dropped significantly when I was able to pay my bills. But by de-stressing I was finally able to start to shake this nasty cold/allergy/thing that's been lingering for the past month and a half. I actually feel better today than I have in weeks and part of it is due to the fact that I'm no longer as stressed as I've been. It really does help. The main thing you need to keep in mind while de-stressing is it isn't going to work all the time. Sometimes you're just not going to be able to shut down the stress receptors. In that case, practice your de-stressing techniques to minimize the stress and try to get past it faster.
ROW 80 update is below. You don't have to read on if you're not interested in that.
A second admission, and this to the ROW 80 crowd...I've missed the last couple check ins. It's had to do with the stress levels in my life being so high I haven't wanted to be online much and I'm sorry. I'll be making the regular check ins from now on.
Writing - NaNo is fast approaching so I'm anxious to get started on that project. That's the novel I want to start that's the first in the series. I decided to start with it for NaNo as a kick in the pants to get it done. Jaelon's story is started but not finished. I've tweaked a few thins in Mkai's story again because I've altered a few details in the world building. Taereah's story got completely deleted because I realized in order to write her story I need to have the outline for CRACKED WORLD written out so I know where she comes in with that story so I can figure out what I want to write with her. I kind of need the same thing for Jaelon's story because both of them tie into CRACKED WORLD and the as of yet unnamed novel series I'm working on starting in November, so I need to have past and present details worked out before I can work on their stories.
Personal - I didn't follow through with vocational rehab. It just didn't feel right, and they told me the best they could do for me was find me a job that paid me $8-$9/hr. I need something $10+ just to survive these days so it wouldn't have worked out. I'm still forgetting my afternoon dose of pills so I've started setting an alarm in my phone. It'll be easier once I start back to work because I'll have an afternoon break and I'll be able to take the pills regularly on that break. I'm mostly just stretching every other day when it comes to exercising. It's not much but at least it's something. I haven't wanted to do much of anything lately because of how crappy I've felt but I've made myself go through the same stretching exercises they taught me in the hospital so I'm doing something.
Work - I've talked with my boss about a few new developments. The big one for me is they're changing our schedules which means I'm losing my shift differential (that's almost $100 per paycheck). There was a shift bid, which I would have missed if not for her, that was due on the 23rd. She emailed me the shift bid and I sent back my preferences. I'm not likely to get what I want since I'm low man on the totem pole because of my stats but we'll have to see. I'll know the first week of November, which is right after I go back, and we won't actually have to make the change to our new shifts until January. They're getting rid of most of the night shifts and putting us all on days. Blech. I like my night shift, thanks. Practicing my anti-panic attack exercises now so I've got them down for when I go back to work.