Thursday, August 22, 2013

This is hard for me to admit, but I realize that this behavior needs to stop now.

I have a knack for biting off more than I can chew.  I've been this way for the majority of my adulthood, although looking back at my high school years, I'm pretty sure I was an offender even back then.  My propensity for taking on too much accelerated in college when I was balancing an 18-21 credit class load each semester with design projects, theater lab commitments, a job serving tables, teaching dance classes, and performing with a belly dance troupe. The schedule was maddening, but it became something I was comfortable with as I figured out how to handle it, or so I thought. When I graduated from CSULB, I was rocking an 8 cup of coffee per day habit, and had bronchitis for almost 8 weeks. Try and kick an 8 cup habit cold-turkey, I dare you.  I vowed never to do that again.

After I moved to Arizona, my life changed dramatically.  I worked one job, and suddenly I had time for myself. I found myself sitting at home a lot, and surprisingly a little depressed by doing so.  Suddenly, my life had lost a little of it's meaning, and I felt lost. I didn't quite understand why I was feeling this way, but I had forgotten how to just take time to relax. I quickly started looking for activities to fill my time, which is why I think I found such an interest in health and fitness. Running and working out gave me a hobby that would not only fill up some of my downtime, but would make me a healthier, happier person. Today, these activities are something that I need to stay sane!

It's been 3 weeks since I left my job at Insight and every waking moment has been dedicated to something! I thought I was going to have some time to relax before everything ramped up, however my schedule quickly filled with training for the position I took on at Phoenix College, studying for the insurance exam for my work on the side, or training for the insurance position at American Income. At first, I was excited at the schedule because I began thinking, Yes! This is what I'm good at! But as I started sleeping less, and began too busy and swamped to even leave my desk to eat dinner or go for the run, I started feeling miserable. School hadn't even started yet! As the stress continued to build up, I suddenly lost sight of the balance and schedule I had mastered previously.  As a result, my GI track was distraught and I was suffering from horrible tension headaches that would not seem to go away.

When I am done with all of my training, things might calm down a bit. However, the reality is that they probably won't. When I'm finally setting my own work schedule and not dependent on the training schedule of others, my classes will have progressed with more requirements and deadlines, and my half marathon training will have amped up as well. I need to work, in order to pay the bills, as much as I would love to go to school full time and not focus on anything else.  I need to run and work out, because it keeps my shoulders loose and helps relieve the tension in my neck and shoulders, as well as providing an immediate stress release. I need to find time to spend with my out of state family and friends, who I can't afford to visit right now, but miss terribly. And most importantly, I need to have time to spend with my loving and supportive boyfriend, who's schedule is almost as busy as mine.

So where am I going with all of this?

It's true that I am a repeat offender when it comes to taking on too much, but I am the most guilty when it comes to stressing about things that haven't even happened yet. This stress manifests in week long tension headaches, stomach and emotional distress, and the inability to fall or stay asleep. Ordinarily, especially since I exercise, I sleep like a rock.  Right now, I've struggled with shutting my brain off, which makes it hard to unwind to fall asleep, or even get a massage.  I have an incredibly hard time living in the moment and focusing on one problem at a time, instead of thinking of my "to-do" list or what I need to get at the grocery store.

What am I really afraid of?
  • Do I really think that if I am so busy, my boyfriend will leave me or look for someone else?
  • Do I really think anyone is going to let me starve if I can't afford groceries?
  • Do I really think I will fail and that I am out of my league? Will I ever not second-guess my ability and my academic success? Do I think that if I am not perfect, that this entire endeavor is for nothing?
  • Do I really think my family will not love me if I cannot make it home for the holidays?
These are illogical, paranoid fears.  I have devoted the majority of my adult live to pushing myself, and I have forgotten to teach myself how to relax. For every push forward, there must be a pull back. It honestly makes me really sad, because I am incredibly hard on myself and find myself worrying about the "what-ifs" before they even reach the horizon. This stops now. I deserve more than that.

I have started looking into the causes of stress on the body, and I have found some really interesting facts.

What is interesting, and actually a little shocking:
  • 43% of adults suffer from adverse health effects relating to stress.  In fact, 75-90% of all office visits can be attributed to stress related causes and ailments.
  • Stress causes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration $300 billion annually.
  • Stress symptoms may effect your health without you even realizing it.  Ex: Headache, insomnia, lack of productivity, fatigue.
  • More serious effects of stress on the body: diabetes, infertility, susceptibility to infection,  high blood pressure and heart problems.
 I am young and healthy, and incredibly capable.  There is no reason to internalize this much stress, especially before I even need to.  There are much bigger problems out there, and I am fortunate not to have to worry about them. My boyfriend, friends, and family love and support me, and they will be there when I am done with this 5 year venture. I will complete this and come out better and stronger (and probably skinnier, if I keep using working out/running as my stress release. :) )

I am going to make a concerted effort to add relaxation into my daily routine.  While I cannot possibly take on another class, I can take the time to take a deep breath, go for a walk, meditate, do a little yoga.  I am going to start with yoga and see if I can come up with a sequence to start my day off each morning.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?


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