On top of a whole bunch of professional stresses for me at the moment I got a phone call on Monday which really upset the apple cart – our landlord is selling. In addition to the significant disruption to our personal lives over the next 6 weeks as the house prepares for auction, we also have to face the very real prospect that when our lease expires in May we’ll be needing to move. Given we’d been hoping to remain here for at least 2 years, if not longer, it’s both a disappointment and a stress.
So it’s no surprise that there’s a bit of panic in my life at the moment. It’s like a many armed many fanged creature scratching at the back door, just looking for a way to get inside and tear things up. (Think: Mordant’s Need).
We’ve all been there before, of course. But this is the first time I’m finding myself in a particularly stressful situation since the mental health stuff, and as such it’s unsurprising that I’m applying a reasonably analytical approach to the entire process.
So what am I doing to reinforce that door?
- Acknowledgement – I’m admitting that the concerns behind the nascent panic are actually legitimate. Pretending that I should be able to get through it all unemotionally is a bad mistake.
- Distraction – I often end up working half the day without any music on, just because … well, I end up forgetting to put it on. When you work in an office that’s probably a good thing. When you work from home that’s not. So I’m being more attentive to putting music on. And not ambient noises or ‘soothing’ music, I’m deliberately picking music that has a real rhythm and energy to it. (So currently that’s alternating between Gin Wigmore’s Gravel & Wine, and Mariachi El Bronx’s second album, II.)
- The positives – The easy mistake in this situation is to keep on thinking about the things that are bugging you, especially if they’re active at the time. But taking a few minutes out periodically to think of everything else that is good can be excellent at achieving headspace.
- Getting out – Working from home I need to get out more, and the biggest mistake I tend to make when things are getting to me is to become more of a hermit, which perpetuates the problem. A house may be a shelter at times, but it can also be a prison if you’re spending too much time there. So I’m focusing on Darren’s return from work each afternoon as a trigger to get out of the house, if only for half an hour to an hour, just to escape a bit.
- Saying No – It’s too easy to answer “yes” when you’re asked to pitch in that little bit more, or do something else. That’s all well and good, and it often speaks to our willingness to help others. But we have to recognise the point where taking on more actually makes us less productive. It may be that there’s too many time clashes, or it may be that there’s too much of an impact on that much-needed down time, but there comes a point where the only appropriate answer is no.
Life. A constant series of curveballs.