By Roxanne Donovan - Wellness
Stress is bad, folks. Like bad, bad.
"Okay," you're thinking, "I already know that." But do you really?
Are you aware that prolonged stress damages mind, body, and spirit? Sure does. I'm talking:
I could go on, but you get my point.
Stress, though, isn't an issue without stressors - i.e., the stuff in our lives we perceive as maxing out our resources. Unfortunately, there are lots of those around, according to a recent American Psychological Association survey (and anyone who's awake). The top five: future of our nation (63%); money (62%); work (61%); current political climate (57%); and violence and crime (51%).
Umm...yes, to all that.
For academics, add to the list deadlines, grading, finding time to write, demanding students, those demoralizing comments from reviewer two, and service overload.
That's the bad news. The good news: high stress and its negative consequences are NOT inevitable. There are tools - a.k.a. coping mechanisms - that when used correctly can reduce stress.
In fact, you have one of these stress-busting tools with you right now.
Yep, that thing your body does mostly outside of awareness to keep you alive can also provide much needed stress relief.
Consciously slowing and deepening your breath sends messages to the brain to relax which turns down the sympathetic nervous system's fight or flight response and turns up the parasympathetic nervous system's rest and digest response - exactly what's required to halt a stress spiral.
There are several deep breathing techniques to choose from. Whichever you try, stick with it. Regular practice equals better outcomes.
So let's all take a moment to inhale slowly for the count of five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)...hold...exhale slowly for the count of five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Now repeat for the next three minutes. Your body will thank you.
In peace and solidarity,
Joycelyn Moody - JMoody's Musings
I really hate it when my therapists leap out of their seats. I’ve had leapers before. I have a leaper now. Earlier this week, my therapist—first man in many years, a straight white guy at that—leapt out of his seat when I thoughtlessly uttered, “I’m seriously overcommitted.” He was on his feet in seconds, and I was kicking myself.
“You’re the last person I meant to say those words to,” I groaned. He was actually pacing.
“I thought we were in re-cu-per-a-tion mode,” he chided. Stern voice. I scrunched lower on the lumpy sofa.
I did wonder how I have gotten back to this place in my professional life again so soon. It seems I blinked and my calendar filled itself.
Nah, I’m taking full responsibility. In August, I returned to campus from eight months off. Last November, I fell ill and spent the winter and spring of 2019 recovering. My current psychotherapist specializes in rehabilitation from physical ailments producing significant emotional and psychological effects. I’ve had the good fortune to be his client since February last.
Besides my fall illness, I have a deep trauma from institutional racism I’ve endured, witnessed, and fought on my campus, so my therapist and I spent the past summer working on my return to campus and to teaching.
Over the summer I also completed and submitted a book manuscript draft that had been long overdue. Because the manuscript had hung over my head so long, in August, I felt true liberation to wave goodbye to it, even knowing it’s eventually coming back with demands for many editorial changes.
The send-off elated me, filled me with the illusion of “bandwidth,” the prize the project’s editor had held out as the plum for completion.
The thing about my being overcommitted isn’t simply that I caved in to the illusion of having more time than I do, now that the book manuscript is momentarily gone. It’s that I returned to work (in a toxic workplace) already overcommitted.
Besides probing psychotherapy these past 11 months, I’ve relied on cardio workouts, personalized gym training, and meditation to heal. In other words, the grandiosity of a professional calendar expansive enough to contain and accommodate multitudes flowed from all the endorphins aroused from both physical exertion and emotional quieting. I thought I had it made.
In the meantime, though, two more things in my life of late have brought reality full slam into my growing awareness.
One is my Bullet Journal: it’s known by some as BuJo®, founded by Ryder Carroll, and rooted in David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s a personal calendar-cum-diary system that works exceptionally well for me. My handwritten accounting of the things I’ve sworn to do and the dates they’re due is the first chronicle ever to shock me into no-ness. I literally see the price of yes will simply be too high. It’s made me able to recognize and utter to a therapist I knew would leap: “I’m seriously overcommitted.” It’s made me aware.
The second thing that’s happened is the accumulative effect of my daily meditation practice: I’ve gained a higher level of self-awareness through this means, too. Not enough yet to keep me from becoming overcommitted, I hear you saying with me, but I’m thrilled by the insight itself and the self-compassion it inspires. Insight. Self-compassion and hope.
Let him leap. Awareness is its own reward, and, like Robert Frost, I have miles to go before I sleep.
Until next time,