Remembering to level out

Just chill...

The week I’m spending away from the usual grind is turning out to be very well spent. Just not being able to work at all, not being able to get online, “not being able” to do anything other than drive in the car or sit down to a meal or hang out with family or sleep for an hour or so, has given me a much-needed break from the constant push.

The last weeks of the year have been so intensely focused on finishing up and finalizing the year and getting everything squared away and DONE, that I haven’t had — or taken — the time to settle in and chill myself out. I get so consumed with the year-end busy-ness, that I lose sight of the importance of sitting and breathing… exercising and stretching.

I have been doing some more stretching and sitting and breathing, taking regular breaks from the flurry of activity around me to let my system settle down again. It’s when I haven’t taken the time to settle down my fight-flight-fun side, and I’ve gotten pretty wired, that I’ve snapped and had to regroup, so I could get on with my day.

It would be nice to think that handling PCS symptoms were a simple matter of understanding what is going on with me and then actively managing it, so nothing ever goes wrong and I never “slip up” again. I certainly have enough information to do so. But information alone isn’t going to solve the whole situation. There’s also the issue of motivation, as well as strength and endurance.

Now, when I say strength and endurance, I’m actually talking about physical strength and endurance, as much as psychological strength and endurance. Because when I am physically weak and easily tired, my mood suffers, and my issues management suffers. When I’m weak and weary, I tend to slide down into a dark hole and let myself slide even more. It’s depressing for me, to feel heavy and slow. I was too much of an athlete when I was younger, to feel comfortable being in poor shape now.

In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the better I take care of my body, the better I can manage my mind. I’ve gotten away from that in the past weeks, focusing more on work and Christmas cookies and running errands, than keeping steady and keeping myself leveled out.

But this break is getting me back to some disciplines I was following before. I’m still not exercising as soon as I get up, but I have been spending time sitting and breathing, which helps — even when I only do it for a few minutes. It’s probably one of the most dramatically effective techniques I know to get myself chilled, to restore balance to my fluctuating moods, and to get myself back to a place where I have more of a say over how I react to the world around me.

And that is key. Because the single-most disruptive aspect of my life — which affects my work and my home life and all the relationships I have — is the hold that emotional volatility (some call it “lability”) gets on me, when I least expect it to. I’ve been increasingly volatile at work and at home, and that’s been a huge problem. It’s affecting me, and as much as I can say, “Oh, it’s just the holidays and year-end stress,” that doesn’t change the effects it has on my relationships.

So, leveling out that volatility and chilling myself out has huge benefits for me. And remembering to do that is the first step. Forgetting that I need to do this has been an increasing problem — I just forget to do it. Or I get so busy and so caught up in what I think I HAVE to do as soon as I wake up, that I just don’t do it.

So, I need to get back to just doing it regularly, as I had been each morning, until about a month back. I need to restore that regular practice and just do something. Part of my problem is that I get so focused on doing it a certain way — exactly x-number of breaths in exactly the same way each day — that when I can’t do it exactly like that, I decide I’ve failed, and I don’t bother.

But I can do something, even if I can’t do things exactly perfectly the way I think they should be done. I don’t have to do this rigid thinking thing — especially first thing in the morning. I can cut myself a break and at least do something that I know will help me. Even in small amounts… plus I sometimes find that when I start small, I find the means to continue on and go the distance on what I originally wanted to do.

Speaking of going the distance, I need to get the car packed and head on up the road again to more relatives. For more visiting. More eating. More relaxing. And not a bit of work in sight.

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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