Putting Anxiety to Good Use

river winding through green landscape

I had a really good weekend. I made a lot of progress, and I got a lot of plans in place that I think are really going to help me get stuff done. I didn’t clean my gutters, which I really needed to do. And there were a few other things I need to do this morning, to catch up. But all in all, it was a good and satisfying weekend.

My top achievement was getting rid of some serious distractions that have been pulling my attention in all different ways. Those are old projects I was very fond of… and that I was very fond of thinking I’d ever finish. As it turns out, because I had too many things going at the same time, I never advanced down the path I was hoping to, which resulted in me getting nothing done.

So, that’s stopped.

And that’s a big deal for me. Because distraction and dissipate have been regular themes in my life, for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure what’s changed with me, but suddenly I don’t feel drawn to spread myself so thin.

Part of it might be getting a hold of my anxiety. Or just using it for something productive, instead of trying to get rid of it entirely. For quite some time, I’ve tried to manage my anxiety by calming myself down. But at the end of last week, I realized that anxiety is actually a really potent source of energy for me. And it’s constant. It never really goes away.

So, I can use up all my time and energy and attention trying to control / manage something that’s always there, anyway. Or I can redirect the energy into something productive. And really kick it.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past several days. Kicking it, using my anxiety. Not trying to calm myself down, but directing my energy into something useful. Making plans. Creating a new pace for myself. Letting that old companion anxiety propel me forward…  Turning that often-unwelcome companion into a friend.

And it’s working out pretty well, I have to say. After years and years of being so dissipated and distracted by, well, just about everything, I feel like I have a much better understanding of how my system works — and how it can work for me.

Of course, none of this would have been possible, if I hadn’t worked at my TBI recovery intentionally and with a lot of trial-and-error. I can tell my brain is behaving more, these days, because I’m actually able to focus. I used to be able to do it, at will. Then I fell in 2004, and that went away. I couldn’t manage much of anything, concentration-wise. That’s something that’s come back over time, with lots and lots of practice and (again) trial-and-error. I’ve let myself make mistakes. That’s how I learn. And I gave up worrying about “failure” in the process, which always helps.

So, yes. This is good. I’ve got my mandate for the next year — maybe two. I’m only focusing on one major project, for 2019, funneling my anxious energy into taking steps to do something about each hurdle I come up against — which are many. I will keep this blog going, because it helps me keep my head on straight and also keep focused on what’s most important to me. But I’m not working on a bunch of other side projects that I had going, lo those many years.

And, ironically, that tames my anxiety. Using it for something good not only lets it just be without judgment or blockage, but it also gives it somewhere to go. Like a rushing river, when I let it just flow and direct it in a certain direction, it takes me on some really interesting turns. Instead of damming it up and trying to control it, I just let it flow… and I ride that wave.

Which is good.

And overdue.

Onward.

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The magic potion that’s saving my bacon

Where do you get your energy?
Where do you get your energy?

My neuro recommended that I get more electrolytes. So, I drank a bit of Gatorade. Then I looked at the ingredients. Glycol ester of wood rosin? And that other stuff I can’t pronounce? No thanks.

So, I picked up some Pedialyte and juice, and I’ve been drinking that. It’s good, but there’s still all sorts of God-knows-what in there.

So, I did some research. And I found out what else I can use.

And the magic potion I whipped up yesterday, is exactly what I needed to stave off the mid-afternoon lull and the craving for junk food. Here’s the elixir of life that is both energizing and delicious:

  • 1 can Goya coconut water (it has pulp, which is tasty, and I’ve read that it’s full of electrolytes) – or you can use any type of coconut water
  • 1 small bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Grape (without that nasty fructose stuff)
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • Distilled water to taste
  • Shake/stir it up to mix in the salt, and sip (if you can keep from gulping it down)

Not since I started drinking my rocket-fuel coffee, have I had this much energy from a drink. It’s absolutely amazing! Holy smokes! I got so much energy from it — and not that crazy wired buzz you get from energy drinks ‘n’ such. Plus, it cut down on my craving for snacks in the afternoon, which is big for me, because I’ve been snacking too much — need the energy — and I’ve been gaining weight as a result.

This is good. This is awesome. It’s not full of ingredients I can’t pronounce or spell, and it’s full of electrolytes. I can feel it. And it is so delicious.

Try it – I think you’ll like it.

I HAVE to go for that hike today

the-journey-of-lifeI didn’t get out and hike yesterday. My business trip was catching up with me, and I also needed to catch up on some reading and writing I’ve been meaning to do.

So, I did that. And looked out the window at the world in my back yard.

Then I took a nap – 3 hours. That surprised me, because I wasn’t actually feeling all that tired, when I lay down. I just knew I needed to give it a try. And after lying there for 15-20 minutes, I finally drifted off… and woke up around the time I needed to go shop for supper.

Now I’ve got one day left in the weekend, and I absolutely have to get outside. It’s spring, dammit. And I need to take it in, already. The weather’s a bit cold, but that might discourage all my neighbors from rushing onto the roads. Or maybe it won’t. In any case, I need to at least take a quick walk on my “short” hike. That should take me an hour or less, and it will stretch out my legs, which have been quite cramped and non-active for some time now.

I’ll have my lunch, change into my hiking grubbies, and head out.

Wish me luck…

Ha! The extra exercise worked

It's important to keep the right balance
It’s important to keep the right balance

So, yesterday, I exercised twice — once in the morning, and again later in the afternoon at work. There’s an aerobics room at the gym at work, and it’s walled with mirrors. That’s exactly what I need, so when I’m doing some movement, I can work on my form and be mindful of how my body is actually positioned as I move it.

I picked up a lot of bad posture and positioning habits when I was younger, and that’s cost me valuable time later in life when I pulled or strained muscles, due to bad form. And then I had to sit out for a while, till they got better. And by the time they got better, I had forgotten about doing them at all. And I lost more time, till I got inspired to do them again.

So, keeping myself in good form is important. And I had the chance yesterday afternoon to spend about 20 minutes moving and watching myself move, making sure I wasn’t moving in ways that strained my back and hips and knees, and all the other connections that have given me trouble over the years.

I didn’t spend a ton of time on it, yesterday, but it was enough to wake me up, and also give me a bit more of a workout. I had been planning on getting an extra exercise session in, when I got home from work. But to tell the truth, I’ve got to make supper, and I’m so done with the day, by that point, that I just want to make supper, talk to my spouse, and chill out.

So, exercising for 30 minutes during the day is really a good option for me. It breaks up my afternoon, and it also wakes me up.

And last night I went to bed by 10:00 and I woke up close to 7:00 a.m. — nearly 9 hours of continuous sleep. Amazing. Just amazing. I’m still feeling a bit fuzzy and groggy this morning, but the fact that I got that much sleep makes it all the better.

Plus, this afternoon, I have no meetings, so I can do it again. I moved a little bit this morning, to work on my balance, and also get a sense for where my body is in space. With my balance issues — which are the one outstanding remaining danger for me and my physical safety — I have to do something. The neuro I went to see to help me with it, doesn’t seem to take my situation all that seriously. Hell, they don’t seem to take ME all that seriously. So, I’ll just have to take care of this all, myself.

I can probably do a better job of it, anyway, because I know what my issues are. I have no trouble articulating them, because I don’t need to — I’m walking around in a body that’s got movement and balance challenges. I already know first-hand what the deal is, and I don’t have to convince anyone of it.

And that makes it a whole lot easier to deal with.

Personally, I’m sick and tired of people not taking me seriously, not believing me, and dismissing me — or brushing me off with some bogus explanation, because they can’t be bothered to look deeper. Maybe it’s a function of the medical system (I won’t say “healthcare”, because there’s something else driving it than “health” and “care”), which routinely traumatizes and exhausts its members, and then expects them to turn in stellar performances. I have to factor in that I’m dealing with professionals who are A) impaired at a functional level — and have been, since they started med school, and B) honor-bound to flatly deny that lack of sleep, secondary trauma, and the pressures of the insurance companies could have a negative impact on their performance.

So, I have to take it all with a grain of salt. And just use them for what they’re good for — prescriptions, if I need them. IF I want to take them — which I usually don’t. They’re gatekeepers for insurance companies, and little else, from what I’ve seen. Just as many financial advisors are little more than highly compensated sales reps for financial services companies (I know, because I was recruited by a fin svcs company many years ago, and I got an inside look at how things work — and I opted out).

So, all that aside, it feels great to be doing something for myself. I forgot to contact that trainer at work again, to go over some complex movements and strength training approaches. I’ll make a note to do it today. I’m feeling a lot of anticipation about this spring… I think it’s going to be a good one. And an old project I had put aside, years ago, has now suddenly shown itself to be feasible, as a solution to one of the big conundrums I couldn’t sort out before has suddenly become obvious to me. So, that’s a nice thing. Very nice indeed.

It’s amazing, what 9 hours of sleep will do for you. I’ll have to try for this again… and again… and again…

Onward.

One more reason to not get too tired

With positivity you have the powerI’m tired. I need to catch up on my sleep. I need to recharge my batteries. Not get so tired. Get back to where I want to be.

When I get tired, I start doing things like stressing myself out, so I feel more alert.
I’m not alert. I’m just stressed. Big difference.

And one of the things I do to stress myself, is slack off on my job, procrastinate, and think about leaving for greener pastures.

Oddly, the better I do at things, the more uncomfortable I am. Because stress makes me feel alert. And if I’m not stressed, then I don’t feel alert.

I may be alert, but I don’t feel that way.

I have a long history of jumping ship from good jobs, for no apparent reason. I just got so danged uncomfortable — but that discomfort actually comes from fluency, efficiency, being plugged in and capable. Somehow, being stressed and behind the 8-ball makes me feel more alive, more alert, more able… even though it’s undermining me and making me feel insecure and vulnerable.

It’s a fascinating conundrum. And the best thing to do, really, is keep an eye out for it when it starts to happen and not let it derail me.

I also need to plug myself into some positive stresses, some real challenges — not the ones my imagination comes up with.

Getting back, one step at a time.

Adrenaline - I got more than my fair share, this past weekend
This is Adrenaline – I got more than my fair share, this past weekend

Full weekend.

Ugh.

It was good, though.

I got the critical things done ahead of time, and then I spent all day yesterday with a buddy, going to see an exhibition of Japanese art and culture. It was pretty amazing – especially seeing things that real people made with their hands, instead of something that they made on a computer. The handiwork of some of the furniture was amazing.

I wish I had more energy to take it all in, but yesterday was a pure adrenaline day. I had to help my spouse the night before with a business activity (their back is out, so they need assistance), and not only was I pushed really hard to do a lot of things, but I was up past midnight on Saturday – and I rarely sleep in – so I did not get enough sleep for Sunday.

Yesterday was good. We checked out the art, the craftsmanship, the joinery, the materials… and then we got some lunch – late. My routine was completely blown away. We were near a neighborhood where I used to eat, and sure enough, the old taqueria was there, where I used to always get massive burritos for a very low price. The store burned down, during the years after I moved away, but I thought for sure they would rebuild, because they were so popular – and sure enough. Line was out the door. And the food was still amazing.

We ended up hanging out the entire day, and we had dinner at my home with my spouse, who is actually much better friends with this individual than I am. We’re all on good terms, so it was a good time.

I just had no time for myself, which is a problem on the weekends. I really need my downtime – space when I am only doing things that are in my head and my intentions. Or I pay the price.

I’m feeling it today. I started to get a migraine yesterday, but I got an hour-long nap, and that helped. Work, work, and more work. Not so great for my system, which needs balance.

This week I will balance. I don’t have a lot of appointments. Just two, compared to the past. I think I’m going to back off on my acupuncture and chiropractor, because I am really tired of not getting home till 8:00 p.m. and then having to make dinner, and not eating until 8:30 or 9:00. It’s too late for me. And I’ve been pushing myself for too long, trying to fit everything in.

I just want my routine back. I just want my regular schedule. I have to have it, or I am toast. And if others cannot accommodate me, too bad.

It’s actually good that I am getting to this point. I have been pushing myself very, very hard, for a long time, and it’s about time that I really focused on just taking care of myself in ways that are less rigorous — and are closer to home.

It’s all a lesson.

Onward.

Juice #brain boost for the morning

I have been reading that electrical impulses can tame a headache. Also, the brain needs hydration to work well. And salt helps electricity pass through water.

So, here’s my experiment for the morning:

Half a glass of naturally sweetened fruit juice (no high fructose cane sugar, thank you very much)
Half a glass of still mineral water (for the minerals)
1 teaspoon salt
Stir briskly and drink.

It’s not bad – no, it’s actually really good. I feel like my body and brain are soaking it up like a sponge.

Feeling better now. It might be the sugar, but it does feel good.

Ruckpack seems to work

So, I drank a shot of Ruckpack the other day, and unlike many other Thursdays, when I am dull and need extra caffeine, just to make it through, I felt pretty good, all afternoon.

I just took some more, because after my nap, I need to get up and do things, but I’m still foggy. I need to focus. Right away.

There’s no substitute for adequate rest, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

So, for now, Ruckpack energy drink without caffeine seems to help, not hurt.

Long day today – will Ruckpack help?

This caught my attention, the second time around

I re-watched an old Shark Tank episode where a Marine (former Special Ops) was pitching his energy drink Ruckpack.

One of the big selling points for him was the caffeine-free formula that did not produce jitters.

When I first saw it, I didn’t need a caffeine-free solution for my own personal energy crises. But now I do. Based on what the Marine said, this might be just what I’m needing.

I found a store that carries Ruckpack, and I picked up a couple of bottles (the caffeine-free mix), just to see. Today is a long day – I started at 6:00 a.m. with a support call for work, and I will be going till10:00 tonight, at least. I have meetings all day – booked solid from 9:00 a.m. till 4:00, when I need to drive an hour to my neuropsych for my weekly appointment. Along the way, I need to run some errands. And then I have a networking meeting in the evening.

So, I will need some extra help today, most likely.

I’m going to try Ruckpack to see how it works. If what they say is correct, that it provides steady energy and nutrients “for every battle”, and it does so without caffeine, then this might be something I can actually use.

I’m going to wait till later this afternoon to try it. I’ll report back.

If it works for me, it might work for other folks struggling with mental fogginess / TBI / headache / migraines, who have to steer clear of caffeine, as well.

Let the experiment begin.