Treading Water

Much of the time, I remain pretty calm.  I can handle a lot of activity and a fast pace, and I’ve learned to multitask quite well over time, although I am aware that this is not necessarily a healthy thing to do so I try to keep that at a minimum when possible.

These are unusual days; unique circumstances.  My professional life – already a force to be reckoned with for the past couple of years – is changing rapidly right now.  This is a period of huge growth and change, all of which is exciting and very, very good, and ought to lead to more sanity for me in the long term.  In the short term, however, it means that I am embarking on three new, major endeavors at the same time.  Right now.  This minute.

Any one of those endeavors would have caused distress this month, but all three?  It’s scary.  On my way to work this morning, I was feeling very anxious.  The thoughts coursing furiously through my tired, addled brain ran along these lines:  I am just treading water right now and that’s the best I can do.  I can keep my head above the surface most of the time as long as I keep moving, but today my head is getting pulled under so fast and so hard that I can’t stay afloat.  If I stop moving, I’ll go under.  I just have to keep treading, keep moving, but I’m not sure I can do this.  I am not an anxious person and these are not the thoughts I typically contend with.  I truly feel for anyone who has to manage anxious thoughts on a regular basis.

But, thankfully, once I got into the groove of my work and experienced some of the normal satisfying and successful moments my days usually hold, I was able to let go of those thoughts, those feelings, and things suddenly felt manageable again.  Poof.

I don’t like the idea that this is right under the surface.  I need to find some strategies to get through the next couple of months until these new work challenges have been accomplished.  Sleep is good, and despite all odds, that has to be at the top of my list.  Exercise is also critical, and I’ve let that go in the last couple of weeks in exchange for sleep.  Time with Matt and the boys will help me keep my priorities straight and bring me happiness.  I also set up a “Relaxation Station” at Pandora.com which I absolutely love; I played it at work today every chance I had, and it brought me down from the tree.

I am also thinking back to how my colleagues and I used to help a group of adolescents on the autism spectrum prepare for a new school year that was replete with change.  One of the best strategies we used each year was to brainstorm a list of every single thing that was not changing, in order to help them focus on things that might help them feel secure.  And so, on my way home from work tonight, I had a very different script running through my head, one that went something like this:

Same schools for both boys, same carpool, same babysitter, same work days and hours, same assistant, same house, same church, same friends, same family living nearby…

This helped.  I know there will be other moments in the coming months and throughout my life when I feel that I’m just treading water, and staying afloat will feel impossible, but if I can relax and find my center again relatively quickly as I did today, I will be very, very lucky.

Other strategy suggestions – aside from traditionally lovely but time-consuming choices such as a pedicure or a massage (there will be time for those again soon, but not immediately) – are welcome.

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9 responses to “Treading Water

  1. I am going to use that strategy right away with Scott! Thanks, Jordan. Can’t think of any suggestions myself, but hope you get past the treading phase and back to your swimming self soon!

  2. Excellent technique, Jordan; I’m going to try that! Some other things I’ve tried in the past include: slow breathing techniques (http://holisticonline.com/yoga/hol_yoga_breathing-ex-nadisodh.htm) which you can do whenever you feel stressed, reducing caffeine/sugar intake (or at least, don’t INCREASE intake!), at the end of the day list the challenges you overcame or the successes you had. Sort of like the list of what’s not changing only w/an empowering twist.

    Oh, and hugs. Seriously. Start each day w/big squeezy hugs from the boys, from Matt, from ANYONE…it totally changes the energy. (I know, now I sound like some woo-peddler! Sorry…)

  3. Yes, thanks for the strategy. T. is getting VERY anxious about the upcoming school year.

    Sending you good thoughts for all your new endeavors.

  4. Jordan you sound like you are doing a great job, and have a great plan, for handling the next few months. I would only add to that to stay focused on the big picture. The longer view. Anything is doable for a period of time when you know the end result is worth the disruption.

  5. Awww…you are so good. So good.
    I am already freaking out about work (which starts in days) that I am paralyzed just thinking of the work, the juggling, the stress. I can’t move and I can’t stop eating. So not me.

    I feel you, sister.

    All I know is that during the school year, I have vowed to stop working by 10 pm no matter what, light my candles, heat up up my blankie and my neck pillow, read my books and/or watch one hour of crap TV (Project Runway, Oprah, Sex and the Çity). I am a person who needs to shut it DOWN, you know?
    Of course, as I write this, I am madly baking out of stress. For the 6th time this week.
    Loving the Pandora thingie. Thank you.

  6. This too shall pass.
    and…

    Let us not be weary in well doing for in due course we shall reap if we faint not.

    Punctuate as desired.

    These phrases help me like mantras during the times you describe…which come often for me.

    The “things that are the same” list is something we have always done with TH, regardless of situation. Unfortunately, this year, for second grade, we’re not exactly sure what will be the same in terms of children in his class and won’t know officially until August 20th, which gives us five days to prepare him and we’ll still have to peel him off of a wall that first day. But we’re going to take him for visits, etc., before school starts to acclimate him to the new room, new wing, new teacher…

  7. Some great strategies have been suggested already, so in addition to all the relaxation techniques, I will use my nurse-prescription authority and say that the medicinal value of chocolate cannot be under-estimated!

  8. Hmm relaxation station! I feel like I’m treading water too and I don’t even work. I think it that time of year when the pressure really piles on. It’s the disconnect between ‘relax for your summer holidays’ and ‘the reality of preparation.’

    Anyway, should you have a free mo in the next millenium, pop on over and collect your award [Saturday]
    Best wishes

  9. Hi! I hope you’re still keeping your head above water. Haven’t seen a post in awhile.

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