Amazing What A Little Time, Some Energy, And Years of Effort/Therapy Can Do For You

I bought curtains today. And a curtain rod, of course. I’d need some way to put the curtains up if they were going to actually serve their intended purpose, you know? I also bought an oscillating fan and sundry cleaning items. Pretty normal stuff for a trip to the store at the start of summer. Nothing terribly exciting here. I also put the curtains up. Took a few minutes to find all the stuff I needed in my toolbox, given that most of it spilled out when I moved and I’ve only needed the stuff in the drawers over those past two years rather than the still incredibly messy main storage compartment, but I think the job took ten minutes total, from unpacking the curtain rod to fussing with the curtains to determine where I wanted to position them when they were open. They’re partially behind my front door, you see, so I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t get caught on the door in some strange twist of chance that would result in the curtains getting pulled down. And now I’ll be able to sleep past sunrise on clear days, since the window the curtains hang in front of allowed sunlight to bounce pretty much straight into my bedroom.

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Taking A Moment For Perspective

I was taking a break at work, sitting in my chair and mindlessly flipping between email accounts on my phone so I could feel like I got something done (clean out my email inboxes) without needing to really do much (all I really get are ads these days), because I was too exhausted to engage with even something as simple as a sudoku puzzle. After I ran out of inboxes to clean, I decided to text a friend a simple complaint about being exhausted and not knowing why, given that I’ve actually been getting decent sleep this week. As we talked and I went from that general statement to considering the specifics of my past few days, I realized that I should actually be very proud of myself for only being this exhausted. All of the stress of the last two months hasn’t actually gone away, I’ve just adjusted to carrying it and started getting enough sleep that I’m not so tired in the morning that I need to spend two hours convincing myself to get out of bed.

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Recording My Thoughts

One of the most important lessons I learned as an adult was how to create physical representations of the way I think. Not how I track information or go about ordering my mind for effort, but specifically the way that my thoughts move around my head as I explore ideas, consider information, and create. Honestly, I think tracking information and ordering one’s mind is largely the same for most people, given that we are (generally speaking) currently only capable of doing on thing at a time, thanks to our limited number of appendages. Sure, there are people who can do two things at once, but they’re pretty rare once you filter out all the people who claim to be able to do it but are just really good at dividing their attention between two on-going tasks that they pursue by rapdily alternating between them. But where people differ is how thoughts unfold in their minds and how they build these thoughts and ideas.

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I’ve Been Practicing Taking Breaks

While I know that I am the source of most of the pressure I feel to be productive and to do most of the stuff on my to-do list in a timely manner, I can’t help but feel like it is easier to find better ways to work than to address the monumental issue that is how much of my self-worth is derived by being productive. Nothing highlights this more than times like right now, as I’m working on catching up with everything I didn’t do for the full week I was feeling exhausted and out of it due to sleep deprivation and stress caught in a horrible feedback loop that is taking me multiple weekends to break out of. I have a simply massive task list since I wrote down everything as it came up last week (I’m pretty good at recognizing that my memory is going to be faulty once I reach a certain level of exhaustion), and it has been a struggle to ride the fine line between productivity and rest. After all, it won’t do me any good if I get a lot done in one day but wind up tiring myself out so that I’m useless again the day or two after that.

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The Benefits Of Rest

I’ve written many times about my relationship with sleep. While sleep and dreams and my ability to rest don’t occupy my mind as much as stories and tabletop roleplaying games do, they’re probably third or fourth highest on list. After all, I’ve been dealing with one kind of insomnia or another for over half my life and my experiences with it and relaxation in general have made me highly aware of the different kinds of rest you can get. This makes it easy to direct my time towards what I need in order to maintain high-function in periods of high stress or enduring periods of constant stress, but it also means that I tend to abuse this power at times when my stress levels are lower than my usual state.

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Don’t Argue If They Won’t Listen

Over the past few years, I have learned the value of simply not arguing with someone. As a person who spends a great deal of mental energy and time concerned with correctly speaking their mind, it can feel counterintuitive to allow someone to misunderstand me when I’m trying to voice an opinion or share a thought. I’ve learned, though, that it is generally a lot better for my mental health to let them do so and do my best to exit the conversation as quickly as I can once it is clear the person I’m talking to isn’t actually interested in hearing what I have to say. It can be incredibly difficult, especially when that person is someone I spend a lot of time talking to for various reasons, but it is almost always worth it to just shut up, stop arguing, and bail out.

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I Spent The Entire Day In A Good Mood

Every so often, as I have my massive, “every song I’ve genuinely enjoyed for the last two years” playlist shuffling through the 600+ tracks during my morning communte, a song will come on that will get me feeling energized and at least a little positive. On a rare occasion, that one song will be followed by several that all hit just right as I’m driving to work in the morning and I wind up striding into the office full of motivation to get to work on my goals. It’s a nice feeling, to be in a good mood for no reason other than positive, enjoyable music, and I do my best to take note of it every time it happens. Good moods are few and far between for me these days, so I try to appreciate them when they happen.

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Imperfect Rest Is Better Than None

As I’ve been working on recovering from all the stress of the past few months and trying to find ways to still make progress on my goals without worsening my current degree of burnout, I’ve realized that my most restful days of late are days that include a mixture of actual rest, enjoyable activities, and moderate productivity. While I’ve always known this to some degree or another, I’ve never been able to nail down a formula for it. Experimentation over the last few weeks though, has had startlingly positive results. If I have enough rest and relaxation intermingled with a moderately busy day of self-directed activity, it is usually a net-restful day for me, even if I’m cleaning my apartment and doing all my laundry. If I can be a little productive on a day set aside to not need productivity while also engaging in restful occupation, it is usually quite restful.

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Bank The Coals For Tomorrow’s Efforts

Sometimes, on a day that is busy beyond measure, I find myself settling down at my computer to write a blog post with the thought tumbling through my head that, maybe, this would be a good day to skip this exercise. I am frequently full of eloquent and entirely reasonable justifications for why it would best for my mental health and physical well-being to skip a day. I constantly remind myself that I can always make up for lost time by writing an additional post some day in the future, when I have the energy to spare, or that I could simply allow myself to skip a day since there is no reason not to take days of rest when I feel the need. “Rest,” I tell myself, “and you will be better prepared for whatever comes your way tomorrow.”

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The Fuel To Your Fire

Spite can be a powerful motivator. I can think of a huge number of things I’ve done just to prove people wrong, and I can think of times spread across my entire life that it has motivated me to act when I otherwise might not have. It is growing less and less frequent, though, as time passes. Spite burns brightly, but it burns quickly as well. Spite can be used to alleviate exhaustion from burnout, but it generally leaves me feeling worse once I’ve burned through it. These days, I’m pretty much out of everything I used to burn as the fuel that drove my work. I get by on discipline and inertia, but nothing has really stepped up to take the place of the hope I once felt.

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