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.