April 9, 2015

a few of my favorite things

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I went to a counselor for a couple of months last year. I haven't talked about this much, but basically I was struggling with some stress, anxiety, and a few other emotions I wasn't sure how to handle. My counselor was great. While she didn't "cure" me of my anxiety issues (as long as I'm me and I face stress, I'm going to have to deal with anxiety from time time time) she did give me some useful tools for coping.

She taught me to recognize the signs of a panic before it turns into a full-blown attack. She gave me tips for riding out the wave physically by going for a walk or taking a quick break to do something I love. (She mentioned that she went out for copy, but for me spending a few minutes watching favorite videos on YouTube does the trick.)

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She also gave me a couple of ways to internally handle my feelings. One way was to write down every single thing pissing me off. Whether it was a major conflict at work or with a story I'm writing or my irritation at having to clean up another pile of vomit, I was to write it down. The point was to do it twice a day and to give myself 10 minutes to give in to my anger (the Emperor from Star Wars would be so pleased) and then to literally close the notebook or delete the computer file and be done with it until my next bitch fest. I've found this particularly good when I need to have a semi-confrontational conversation. I get all of the negativity out of my system, think about what I'd like to accomplish with the conversation, then I find a positive way to say it.

I don't always manage to maintain my Pollyanna-ness, but I'm trying.

Probably my favorite tip was to keep a list of five things that make me happy no matter what. I copied my list down in the notes section of my iPhone, and many times when I feel myself getting a little panicky or gloomy, I open it up. My list is pretty simple, and while we're being honest and open, I don't mind sharing it with you.

Five Little Things That Make Me Happy

  1. When Bingley crawls into bed/on the couch with me and cuddles. He makes a little chirping sound while he jumps and then purrs within seconds of settling in with me.
  2. Re-reading one of my favorite trashy romance novels that are practically falling apart, because they've been so loved.
  3. Seeing a picture or video of Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, or Michael Fassbender pop up in my Facebook news feed.
  4. Getting a random text/call/message from a friend or family member, because she or he saw, heard, or read something that made her or him think of me. 
  5. Burritos.
I opened up this file again last night. I've been feeling quite a bit of stress lately. My day job is crazy busy, and as much as I enjoy building my writing career there's plenty of angst that accompanies it. While there isn't a lot I can do to change any of it, I feel better equipped to deal thanks to my list.

Now excuse me while I watch one of my go-to I-need-a-smile videos:



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