Dealing With Stress – Not very well, frankly, but I’m trying!

I’ve always has trouble with anxiety – I love being organised and making plans, and then all of a sudden, BAM! I’m overwhelmed and panicking.

I want to control EVERYTHING (except when I’m sewing – which is why I sew!) and I end up with awful stress-related headaches several times a week or more. I’m coming to terms with the idea that probably my next step is to talk to my doctor again I’ve got an appointment with the doctor in a few weeks, but in the mean time, I’m trying to retrain my brain to be more positive. (Thanks to Twitter sewcialists for giving me the motivation to book that appointment!) 

In the depths of wedding-planning/moving-from-Japan-to Canada/quitting-our-jobs-and-looking-for-new-ones madness two years ago, I found it really helped to repeat this mantra: 

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I like this one because it’s just a bit aggressive and subversive. It’s not about waiting for things to be fun, or hoping they will be one day… it’s about making your own fun in whatever you are doing! 

Which ties to this phrase that I’ve had going through my head ever since the Lady Skater promo shots of Katie_Kid_MD in her badass dress

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Whatever I’m doing, it helps put a swing in my step to think of this phrase! It conjours up an agressive, take-no-prisoners swagger for me, plus makes me grin wolfishly at the thought of all you amazing Sewcialists watching my back! Like a boss, baby. Work it like a boss!

On the flip side, a good friend was encouraging me yesterday to just focus on one thing I can control: breathing. She’s a veteran of plenty of cognitive behavioural therapy herself (besides all-round awesome), and her go-to response to stress is breathing until she feel centred. She says she practiced so much that it’s become an unconscious reflex now whenever she starts to get worried. That’s what I need – to retrain my brain and body so that it doesn’t freak out so much! I’m going to give it a try myself: 

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Tied into that, I’ve got another reminder for myself: 

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My headaches come partly from stress, and partly from the horrible slouching that also gave my RSI wrist injuries. (Remember my physio exercises here? Well, when I do them enough, they also help with my headaches…) When I remember to straighten up, I feel stronger and more confident. I guess my brain is easily fooled by my body!😉

I’ve been talking a lot to friends and family about stress and anxiety lately, including crying in front of the bloggers at the most recent Toronto Sewing Meetup! It was one of those lovely sewcialists who told me that having positive affirmations really helped her with her own stress levels. She’s really the one who inspired me to try to take control of this anxiety, instead of accepting it as normal. Thanks, secret person! (I think over time I’ve really let myself accept a crappier standard of mental health, and it’s time for that to stop!) 

Which leaves me with one last thought:

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Again, it’s all about fooling my brain into believing my body. If my face smiles, my brain follows suit and my muscles start to unclench. It’s the quickest way I know to feel better, short of a bear hug from my husband!

Thanks for letting my dump all this out there… it’s cheap therapy! I’ve always found it immensely helpful to hear about other people’s issues and how they stay positive. Mental health is still a touchy subject though, and I don’t want to “out” people who aren’t comfortable talking about it in public!

Still, if you’ve got any advice for me about how to retrain my brain, I’d really love to hear it! 

p.s. I made my slogan-images with the Beautiful Mess app on the iphone, which is a quick and easy way to make your pics hipster-chic! It also works well for making quick text-based images like these.

p.p.s. I drafted this about a week ago, and I’m feeling a lot more in control this week… but I think it’s important for me to be honest with myself about building coping strategies anyway. Better not to leave the learning process for when I’m down and out! 


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