The stress is enormous, not just for me, but for everyone trying to learn this new program and making up the next steps as they are needed. The real challenge for me is to moderate the anxiety and pressure. Under stress, I’m easily overwhelmed. I’m like a teacup that flattens, slopping out my ability to concentrate and my emotional flexibility. I lose capacity.
I also become reactive, and my first instinct is to bolt. I run from the stressor, fling it off and dive into a hide-hole. So, the words “I can’t do this” fly in and out of my head regularly.
But part of my personal journey is to work on increasing my tolerance to distress. If I’m ever to make any lasting changes in my behavior and my life, I need to work this work situation like a puzzle. What do I need to do to stretch my envelope of tolerance? As always, I created a plan.
The first piece is to breathe. It’s my starting point. When the acronyms start flying and I can feel my body vibrating like a tuning fork, I stop and breathe deep into my belly. It tells me to come back to myself. It starts the process of flinging off the assumptions and negativity. Breathing deep, I can remember why I’m doing this. I can remember I don’t need to understand. I can remember that I’m not alone.
I also realized that creating more structure would help soothe the anxiety, so I put an After Work plan in place. I go straight home, change, and go to the Y to ride the recumbent bike for an hour. That helps burn off some of the adrenaline and agitation. Then, I journal with a cup of something soothing. Then, I meditate. After that, I’m rational enough to eat a sensible supper. This helps. Instead of bingeing all night with a movie, I’m taking positive action to stretch my tolerance.
And it seems to be working. I may be an emotional puddle by the time I leave the office, but by the next morning my teacup is upright and able to hold water.
This is new behavior for me. It’s also more stress than I’ve endured in years. I’m proud of all that. I’m also aware that I could blow at any time. That’s the unknowable, uncontrollable piece to bipolar disorder. All I can do is stay as mindful as I can from moment to moment and see what happens.
I’m on an Adventure.