Good morning! And in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight!
Don’t get that reference? Let me introduce you to The Truman Show.
If you’re wondering what in the devil The Truman Show has to do with my self-care Sunday, I don’t blame you. Friday I tweeted out a list of things I wanted to do this weekend:
My weekend plans:
—Queue up 3 blog posts
—Finish reading my good friend @alfageeek‘s work
—Write 3k words in #TheHarlotofBlueRidge
—Buy new sheets
—Make a pound cake
—Watch a movie. Any movie. My TV hasn’t been on in probably two weeks.
—Drink ALL the coffee.#WritingCommunity
— ᗩIᒪᗩ STEᑭᕼEᑎS 📚 (@AilaStephens) February 22, 2019
(Confession: This is being written on Saturday, so here are my predictions for how this list shaped up by Sunday.) I bet this will be the only blog post I’ve written, I will have read Joshua’s work—and will no doubt have been left anxious for more. I’ll probably have down about 1.5k, maybe 2k. I’m picky about sheets so that may take going to a few stores…which I don’t like to do. I will have made cookies instead. I won’t have turned on my television. I’ll have had an extra few cups of coffee.
I can’t wait to see how I did.
Anyway: The Truman Show is the movie I have decided I want to watch. Personally, I find it brilliant. A few of my friends and I mentioned it a while back and I’ve had a few lines running through my head ever since. This movie was a pretty big deal in my house after it came out. My big brother loved it, so naturally I did. Then it became the topic of conversation after it appeared to have sparked a rabid enthusiasm in reality television—which oddly enough I’ve never cared much for. Sure, when I was in culinary school I watched every episode of Chopped because it mirrored how our final exams were structured. (Secret ingredients, time constraints, drama.) My parents used to love watching Survivor, so I did see a few episodes, but only because I was a lazy teenager who didn’t want to get off the couch. But would you believe I’ve never seen a single episode of The Bachelor?
But my decision to re-watch this movie isn’t the only parallel between The Truman Show and my self-care Sunday. There are a few scenes that visually mirror how I occasionally feel. I’m going to share another clip or two from the movie, hoping that by not providing any context it won’t be a spoiler in case you haven’t seen it.
Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one caught in the rain. Just like Truman on that beach. Not literal rain, obviously. But sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who is slogging through life facing any sort of hardship. I know this isn’t true. But knowing something and feeling something are entirely different.
Also in this clip: After Truman gets home from the beach, all soaking wet and frazzled, he tells his wife he wants to drop everything and travel, see the world, etc. And she reminds him of their car payment, mortgage, and family obligations. Shutting him down cold. I have travel envy. If that’s not a thing, I’m coining it a thing. (I tweeted about my need for a vacation, too.) It’s been a while since I’ve been on what I would consider a proper vacation either due to conflicting schedules, family health emergency, or a dozen other unforeseen mishaps that caused us to cancel plans. So while I know what’s really happening in this scene, on the surface this is how I feel sometimes. I just want to drop everything and go.
Are you still with me? Bless your heart. I’m just as curious as you to see where I’m going with all of this. One more clip.
Sometimes things can get so stressful it feels like surely someone else is pulling the strings and making it so. For Truman this is absolutely true. Again, I won’t provide any additional context to prevent spoilers. But…I mean this movie has been out since 1998, so—holy crap this movie has been out since 1998?! This movie can buy alcohol!
Next SCS post will be about coping with getting older, I guess.
If you wanted to sum up how 2018 felt for me, it would be that rough seas scene on repeat. (Including me angrily asking the universe if that was the best it could do, followed promptly by the universe giving me the middle finger.) Luckily, 2019 has been much kinder to me so far. (I would appreciate if you would all knock on wood for me.)
It’s funny, when I first thought of incorporating my movie choice into today’s post, I envisioned something along the lines of encouraging you to take the time to do similar, maybe give a top five list of my favorite movies, etc. But it’s taken a turn. Derailed. I’m sticking with what I’ve got though.
Truman spends a large portion of this movie feeling paranoid and stressed. But he also fights for himself because literally no one else will. While we may have more people in our corner than Truman, we still have to be our own fiercest warriors and biggest advocates.
Now, I’m not going to offer tips on true paranoia, other than to remind you there is no shame in seeking professional help with your mental health. But, let’s end this [really strange, really left-field] post with some tips on stress management.
Know Your Triggers
Sometimes we can’t avoid what stresses us out. Work, for instance. But there are certain things we can take control of and lessen our exposure. Here’s my short list:
Social Media: One of the reasons I constantly say I’m bad at social media is because I know it can easily stress me out so I avoid it. A lot of people have a lot of dumb opinions and gosh I used to be the type of person who would try to set them straight—but it can’t be done! So, I’ve learned to steer clear. It’s also the reason I stopped listening to AM radio.
Family: So, my [remaining] immediate family is not included in this, though they too can sometimes stress me the ever-loving hell out. (How do you like that grammar? Yeah, I’m a writer. ☺) But I do know more than one person who has been irreparably hurt by their parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. I’m a firm believer in only allowing people who deserve to be in your life to actually be in your life. I made the decision to cut out my grandfather when I was, oh…twelve? Thirteen? I can’t remember. But I never saw him again for the rest of his life and I have no regrets. He simply didn’t deserve me. I have extended family who don’t deserve me. So I don’t go out of my way to put myself in their path.
Commitments. General, I know. But I try not to say yes to things right off the bat anymore. I used to think people would only like me if I agreed to everything all the time. Want to meet up Friday? SURE…only to discover a few minutes later I really didn’t want to meet up, so I would stress out about having made the commitment all week and pray for cancelled plans. (I love cancelled plans.) Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes I do want to meet up with people. But I generally try to take more time to evaluate my answer before I give it now, saying something along the lines of, “Oh, thanks, it sounds fun, but can I let you know by ___________?” Generally, if they demand an affirmative answer on the spot, I will decline.
Know Your Stress Symptoms
Everyone reacts to stress differently. Here is a list of common symptoms you may experience when you’re over-stressed. (This is not a definitive list and I am not a doctor. Nor do I play one on TV.) I will put mine in bold, since sharing is caring.
- Irritability/Mood Swings
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Social Isolation
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Panic Attacks (Which may require professional help to manage.)
- Grinding the teeth
- Jaw tightness
- Scatterbrain/Difficulty concentrating
There are probably a lot I’ve missed. But the point is, figure out how your body is telling you that you’re experiencing too much stress. This will help you combat it.
Coping With Stress
Here are five things I have found helpful in my stress management:
Writing. You knew this was going to be at the top of my list, right? One of the reasons writing is so vital to my well-being is that it allows me an escape from my own stress. Sure, I put my characters through the ringer, and sure I get stressed out when I’m having a tough time with writing…but, for me, that’s a good stress. This includes blogging, which for me is a type of journaling. Don’t get me wrong, this blog stresses me out too and sometimes I think I should give it up. But it’s an outlet for my thoughts and occasionally gives me the sense I’m helping someone else.
Reading. A close second, if not a tie with writing, is reading. It’s a type of escapism and it’s different than watching TV or a movie. My imagination has an intimate relationship with the author’s words and together, we make a movie in my head.
Self-Care Sundays. Seriously. Having a set block of time (even fifteen minutes) devoted to doing something for myself, whether it’s lying back listening to music, washing dishes, doing a hair or face mask, or even just watching funny cat videos on YouTube…I know I’m going to have some time for me come Sunday. I’m pretty protective of this.
Music. Music is freaking powerful. We have a Google Home device in three of our rooms (in a one-bedroom apartment, mind you.) and I can honestly say it has helped me in more ways than just reminding me to take something out of the oven. Virtually any type of music I feel compelled to listen to isn’t even at my fingertips, I just have to ask. Like, right now, I’m listening to Richard Wagner whereas a few minutes ago I was listening to Frank Sinatra….and now I’m listening to Thomas Tallis.
Arts and crafts. Sometimes I pick up a paint brush and ruin a canvas. (See, even when I’m being positive, I still find time for some self-deprecation.) But I also enjoy weaving, pyrography, and playing with clay—and if I ever have the means to have a kiln and pottery wheel, ooooooooh boy. Color me happy.
I think that better be all for today, folks. I’m apparently prone to rambling today. If you stuck with me until the end, bless you. If you made sense of all that, double bless you. Perhaps I’ve had a little too much caffeine. Anyway, I hope this finds you in good health, in every way. ♥ See you Monday.