Stress Less

Over at Chili Chews, there’s an excellent new challenge: stress less! This comes at a very appropriate time for me, because I’ve been under a lot of stress lately, and haven’t been handling it well. I’ve been trying to keep the stressed focused on classes, because that results in doing homework. If I’m stressed about work, then I end up uptight and inefficient. If I’m stressed about sustainability/environment/peakoil/doom stuff, I descend into mindless panic and have to turn all the lights on, which is kind of at cross-purposes with itself. If I’m stressed about religion/spirituality/etc, I become scared and defensive and unable to participate in anything that could give me some answers. So classes are the most useful thing to be stressed about. But not stressing at all would be excellent. Or at least, stressing less. Because I’m writing this from home after deciding that I needed a mental health day and it couldn’t wait until the actual weekend. So, Zee Plan:

1. Get my morning practice back into gear. If I actually get up when the alarm goes off (or even a few minutes earlier, as I often do), I have more than enough time to meditate for 15 or 20 minutes. I generally do vipassana-style mindfulness meditation, with occasional metta work or similar practices. I have also fairly recently been incorporating some traditional Jewish morning blessings, with mixed results. Necessary background note: I am not Jewish, but my boyfriend is, and so I’ve been participating in Jewish-type stuff with him for a while and have in the past six months or so started looking into it more seriously. I have a useful pile of books, but sooner or later one really has to just do this sort of thing, hence the morning prayer/blessing practice, suggested by the rabbi I’ve started working with.

2. Though, on the subject of books, couldn’t I have gotten interested in Zen or something? Can one facet of my life please not revolve around books?? So another part of my stress-reduction plan is to read somewhat less. This may sound odd, as I’m normally a major bookworm and reading is one of my best stress-release activities. But most of my reading lately has been either religion and reference, which is often interesting but not actually relaxing, or it has been teen novels for YA lit class. The YA books are often enjoyable. But one hallmark of YA-centered novels is that they revolve around the main character being an insecure 16-year-old. If I read too many of them, I empathize with the characters too much and start feeling like an insecure 16-year-old. We need to read and review 5 books by next Wednesday. I’ve read 9, though I did decide that one didn’t count. (While I highly recommend The City of Amber,it is aimed at a slightly younger audience than we’re really focusing on.) I think I can give myself a break for a little while and pace these things better.

3. Planting seeds! The next few weeks will feature key dates for starting seeds. Growing things makes me happy. Appropriately enough, the first one on the list is a flower called heartsease :-)

There will be some other thing happening soon that will also cause some stress-relief, such as the weather getting warmer and sunnier, and there being volunteer opportunities at the farm to plant even more seeds.

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