Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Caffeine, Messy Buns and To-Do List Stress

That, guys, is my December in summary. Quite sad if I do say so myself.

I haven't written anything worth reading in so long, in fact I haven't written anything, full stop, and I'm not a fan of that. It's been hectic lately. Everytime I add something to my list of things that need to be done I feel the weight on my brain and the desire to escape any free time in order to avoid thinking about it or how I'm going to go about doing it. It's become so significant that I avoid planning things in the first place which ultimately leaves me sitting at home on a weekend night thinking well, it would've been worth it this one time, despite the fact that this scenario has happened over and over again and it rarely is worth the mental strain. I've somehow managed to make very simple and, allegedly, enjoyable things the main cause of stress for me.

The thing is I don't know where I'm going wrong. Every "10 STEPS TO BEING STRESS-FREE" article has been:

1. Relax
2. Reorganize
3. Declutter
4. Set goals
5. Make lists
6. Get enough slee-

yeah um clearly not feasible, internet.

Okay, if you've read anything else on here you know that whatever I write is an active thought process that sometimes begins as one thing and with one destination in mind and ends somewhere roughly 6 yards off the predetermined destination. I'm thinking, you know what, let's do this systematically. I know what I need to do and I know the reason none of it is working is because it's not a firm and consistent decision and habit-building process. I waver sometimes, whether it be impulsively or out of mere compliance and that needs to stop.

It's the first day of my winter break, hence the time for some decent introspection that isn't taking place in small bursts in between the acres of work of first term of junior year. And I'm thinking these next 17 days are more than enough to sort my anti-unncessary-stress tactics, so might as well start now. The only time I would be at peace with myself is when I have taken these steps seriously, committed to them and then had them not work for me, but until then the goal is to take it seriously and see where that takes me.


1. Identify stressors


Apparently step one is to identify what's stressing you out and getting rid of it. Who would've known.
  • The school workload and the vagueness when it comes to how much I should actually be spending on it 
  • The effort it takes to do things with my friends when it comes to permission and the inevitably reoccurring yet not any less hard-hitting realisation that I'm still under someone else's control
  • The social responsibility I feel for not being understanding of everyone when I just want to be selfish for a while
  • The lack of motivation I feel to do things and get myself out of the mentality that "I gotta do what I gotta do" because I feel like I'm wasting my responsibility-free time of life
  • The fact that I'm seventeen and still can't drive around here
  • The effort and emotional/physical/timing investment it takes to maintain functioning relationships with the people around me
  • The fact that sometimes the passive group pressure to conform to social norms and go out every weekend gets to me and I get that feeling of missing out
  • The fact that sometimes I choose to not do anything, enjoy my time temporarily, but then feel like I've wasted even more time and didn't even get anything done
  • The fact that I insist on making sure my time is spent getting something done and how it drives me crazy 
  • The feeling I get when I make plans and they immediately lose the buzz and become a full on stress-provoking weight - regardless of whether I genuinely want to be part of those plans or not - up until the minute I'm back home and I know I won't have anything in a few days or so.
  • The fact that some people don't understand the effort I invest into a million things and expect the 100% from me in everything
  • The feeling that many things would be different - for the better - if more of the decisions that affected me were solely in my hands.

2. Unnecessary Commitments

Another thing is eliminating unnecessary commitments which I've already tried to do but sometimes I feel like in the moment I'm willing to add to my commitment load and it's not until I'm sitting there looking at the overwhelming and dauntingly long to-do list with a hundred rapidly approaching deadlines that I think, "well. shit." 

BUT HERE'S THE PROBLEM - I won't admit that "well. shit." moment out loud. Hell, I won't even admit it to myself for longer than .3 seconds. I can't have that. I can't bail on things voluntarily and I never do, I see things till the end even when I know the odds are it's 99 to 1 in the can't do to can do ratio. And that is what mentally kills me because I persist and say "nah man, it's all good, i can handle it" and that triggers that tied up small part of my brain to constantly say "nononononono"until 1. i do end up making it happen, which is rare or 2. i don't make it happen and i spend a good 3 days hating that aspect of my personality but not tackling it all. What bothers me is I won't hesitate much to point out or acknowledge a flaw in my character or otherwise, but when it comes to this "perfectionist (?)" thing, n o w a y.

So, I guess more importantly than acknowledging my stressors and unnecessary commitments, I should work on saying "I don't got this" every once in a while. I guess in this aspect many people will just say I do this to myself and I stress myself out so I shouldn't be complaining but I genuinely don't know how to not do that. It's the most resilient and active(ly stubborn) part of my character.



3. Procrastination, 4. Disorganisation, 5. Lateness

These are not my issue, so we'll just put those in the personally irrelevant corner for now unless they make an appearance elsewhere.


4. Control

I've practically talked about this one already. I'm a crazy control freak when it comes to my life events and workload. Which is interesting because I don't have the possessiveness that often comes along with control. I don't want control over people or things, I want control over my personal response and position with regards to people or things and that's not always feasible. I feel like I've single-handedly built up my anxiety to a point that so many insignificant and minor things have the ability to push me out of harmony. But I guess the fact that I have near-complete apathy when it comes to taking control of people I guess I've got half the problem pre-sorted.


5. Multitasking

This doesn't work. At all. Please future self, single-task is the way to go.


6. Energy Drains

Another tricky one.

I can't eliminate my biggest energy drainers because I'm constantly in a position of inner conflict when it comes to them. I want to do all these things that drain my energy because I have this fear of coming to a point in my life and thinking I should've done this or I should've done that. And I know regret or thoughts like that are inevitable but I want to at least wholeheartedly believe that I did everything I wanted to do that was within my reach. But see, I sound so sane and logical when I say "within my reach" but my brain does not aim solely for what's within my reach, I reach for farther and try to make it happen because if not now, then when?  If it weren't for the degree of social responsibility I feel (which also stresses me out, as I've pointed out about a million times) this is the time of my life with the least responsibility and I should be making the best of it by doing what I want and being selfish and stupid and carefree. I miss feeling that, or more appropriately, feeling entitled to feel that.


7. Simplify, Unschedule and Slow Down

I need to make plans to spend time with myself. Keep blocks of time not only event-free but thought-free. There's no harm in not thinking every now and again, the world isn't going to collapse when it doesn't have my full attention. I don't need 19 hours of attentive and detail-oritented consciousness when I could have 15 calm thought-free hour days and a good night's sleep once every a few weeks. Ideally I need to focus on what matters and tone it down with the mile-long to-do lists with voluntary-yet-unnecessary-and-unthought-too-stubborn-to-cancel tasks.


8. Quit Work

Yeah, the word "quit" is repelling as it is.

I've actually quit a couple of things already that have been stressing me to the point of tears, which as you know if you know me well, that's not how I roll. I like to avoid that aspect of human emotion as much as possible and for the most part I'm successful and like to keep it that way. H o w e v e r, right now it's not really possible to quit any more things and sometimes it just feels like this is the time to be doing a million and one things because it's the whole planning for future while trying to stay sane and keep friends time of the infamous Teenage Experience. But hey, I'll try to remain on the lookout for shit that needs to go, for good.


9. Exercise and Eat Healthy

I love how this destressifying technique is in itself a source of stress for me, wow :')

I've been trying so hard to balance out my diet and work out regularly but whenever I have time to go to the gym I'm too deep in disbelief that I have time to breathe something that isn't responsibility to get out of bed, let alone do Insanity for an hour. All my motivation coins are being spent on things that are equally and sometimes more important than exercise but I have to live in my body and see it quite too often and being unhappy about that is not only frustrating because I feel stupid and whiny, but it's just stress that I don't need any of so I'm still trying. As you do.


10. Stay Zen

I love this one because I know how effective good vibes are on me and a 'zen' atmosphere should do the trick, at least temporarily. This usually involves the stupid "declutter !!!!!!!" every article about this topic seems to have but it really does have a profound effect on my productivity and well being. Right now I feel uncomfortable because I know my clothes are still in a mini pile on my bed and my books are on my desk with my brush and my hard drive and a phone case (???) My brain just has a way of transforming physical clutter in my room into this mental clutter that piles inside my head and makes me feel claustrophobic in myO WN BRAIN HOW????????????


Ah. I feel like that might have helped just a little in processing everything that's been going on lately, at least the mental pile feels a little more structured and I know how to handle different little things. And I'm glad I still remember to do this whenever I can because I want to be able to look back at this ages from now and notice how my thought process took place and what changed my mind and how I felt about different aspects of life and coped with them, stress being one of the most significant ones. This website I found that really did help me with this whole sorting out my life thing is www.zenhabits.net which in itself sounds calming! So I thought I'd put it right here just in case anybody was insane enough to read all the way down here...or if you just "tl;dr" it and scrolled down to find it.


Okay wow done.

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