It is easy to forget when you stand in
The Museum of Natural History
That most of the creatures there were alive once.
We see them, still, snarling, roaring, pondering,
Perhaps with young at their side that was most probably not theirs,
And we can’t imagine that this could be as strange a thing
As a photograph of a stranger’s child suckling at a woman’s empty breast,
Eyes regarding no hint of recognition
Only glass surrounded by flesh and glue.
It is easy to forget how once these things moved
And ruled the land and ate and bled and died
Because in passing, they seem like art
In the empty sense of art that is supposed to be an impression of something real
Instead of a reality that breathed air and broke bones,
That fell to the ground and rather than be eaten by carrion
Was carried to a land across air and sea into a sterile box
Shaved and styled and filled with artifice
And it teaches nothing unless the lesson that people seek is
How a full existence can escape decay
And offer meaning in whatever form the onlooker desires
Even when there is nothing actually there.
So you’re stuck at work or at a party or you’re in the middle of a crowded Chipotle, and suddenly it hits you like a summer thunderstorm: stress. Just like that, you go from ‘I think I *will* get guac, even though it’s going to cost extra’ to ‘I’m never going to be able to finish all the things I have going on right now.’ Some people may not be able to wrap their mind around that, but as someone who suffers from anxiety, it happens more often than I would like.
And while you can give people the pointers that work in the long run – exercise, meditation, the right amount of sleep, the corrective dosage of vitamin chill – sometimes that’s not going to be possible in the middle of rush hour.
So here are five methods of dealing with stress on the spot:
- Visualization and dialogue: I have found that a very helpful way of dealing with immediate attacks of stress is to imagine it as a person or object that you can talk to. Explain in no uncertain terms that you acknowledge its existence and that you will deal with it in time. Let stress stand next to you in line, but do not let it do the ordering.
- Count your breaths: You obviously can’t go into downward dog in the middle of Denny’s, but you can inhale and exhale (and you should be doing that already). My favorite count is a 7-second in and 11-second out.
- Focus on details: This is especially helpful if you can find something pleasant to focus on, like a flower or an animal. But put all your attention on an object and list as many details in your head as possible. What color is it? What size? What’s your favorite part of that object? Make up a story about it. Anything to divert your attention from the inside of your own head.
- Stockpile your favorite funny things: Jokes, vines, one-liners. You can even keep them programmed into your phone. Look at a few and have a laugh. I find humor is a quick way to distract myself. And if I don’t have anything, I force myself to smile. It works surprisingly well.
- Think of your favorite song: A happy song. Upbeat. If you can, sing it or hum it. Dance a little (like no one is watching – even if they are). If you have earbuds, listen to it on your phone. Let it take you to a better time. Enjoy it.
How do you deal with stress on the go? Tell me about it!
Posted in mental health, Self Dare, Uncategorized
Tagged anxiety, breathing, dialogue, humor, meditation, mental health, panic, stress, stress management, visualization
On a perfect day, the sun may shine
Or the clouds gather in groups to chide the Earth with rain
And the books will gather plentiful like sheep against a hillside
There will be art and song
And shame will be the forbidden words,
The boogeyman stories that are told to frighten but are then laughed at
Because the existence of an idea where anyone should feel
Less or hurt or worthless
For no reason
Can only be fiction
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
- Don’t fight against fear or anxiety or depression. The children that reside in your mind will never understand what you’re saying and will just scream louder. Find things to distract them and go about your business.
- Ignore perfection. Complete your daily tasks even if they do not become the stuff of legends. Then get up and do it again.
- Saying “I don’t care” is easy. Saying that you will continue to care when it is the hardest option and smiling despite all pains is a miracle. Believe in miracles.
- Fight on. Fight hard. Never surrender. Life is an action movie that we think is a rom-com.
- When in doubt, carry a supply of sweet treats. Sometimes reinforcements will be necessary.
Pour all the love you can into a cactus
Because it doubts itself constantly
For living in the desert and never wanting for water
So it sits in the sand and wonders how long it will take
For everyone to forget about it
And that is why you must eschew every day lily,
Respectfully decline the orchid,
Allows others to remark upon the beauty of the rose,
And give only the briefest of nods to the wildflowers
Because a cactus protects itself from the world
And if allowed it will bleed water for you,
It will save your life
If you let it.