Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On Overcoming Stress and Mental Road Blocks

On Overcoming Stress and Mental Road Blocks

Yesterday I wasn't getting any work done at Fair Grounds, even after disabling the wireless on my laptop. So I walked home in the brisk and breezy mid-50s in my knee-length skirt (no tights--possible mistake) and listened to a playlist I had made several days ago to reflect the feelings of slow change and windy days.

I opened the screen on my door and played my music loudly enough for me to hear out on my mini-porch and changed into some rolled-up jeans and a black spaghetti strap top (which I had to fish around in my boxes of summer clothing for). Then I sat out on the top of my steps and smoked a cigarette with one hand and typed up my paper's introduction with the other. It was incredibly relaxing.

I've generally been fairly suspicious when friends or acquaintances of mine say that they smoke cigarettes to relieve stress. I've also generally been a non-smoker except for the occasional cigarette when drinking with friends; I avoided buying cigarettes of my own until I was spending so much time with J that I felt like I should contribute to his supply of them. So I ended up with half a pack of cigarettes to my name even after we parted ways, and as it turns out, I did feel pretty de-stressed yesterday afternoon as I was smoking one.

When it got too chilly to sit on the porch I retreated indoors to my living room floor and poured myself a glass of leftover red wine from some evening a couple of weeks ago when Robert and I made dinner. I was actually quite productive.

The moral of this story is... well, here I am amidst a very stressful week. I am co-chairing a conference on Saturday and have meeting after meeting this week to get ready for it. I have the regular reading for my classes, as well as this 7 page response paper on Levinas due. I must begin to flesh out term paper ideas in the next two weeks and have a gigantic pile of books from the library to peruse. I also need to make time for the gym and for doing my laundry and cleaning my kitchen floor. I have been dreading this week since last Wednesday when I looked into my Snoopy planner and started to try to plan gym times.

But, you know what? So I wasted almost 4 hours at Fair Grounds. I was weighed down by god-only-knows-what mental blocks. But when I stopped thinking about how much I needed to do and stopped berating myself for my lack of productivity, when I calmed down and drank my wine at a leisurely pace as I went back and forth from the book in my hand to the Word document in front of me, I was able to actually get into a rhythm with the work. By the time Robert came over to help me start making dinner I was in a great mood and ready to enjoy the evening guilt-free. Which, believe me, I did.

And now I have gotten up at six o'clock in the morning, because I feel like it is the responsible thing to do. And I want to be the girl who does that responsible thing. Here's to a productive day of positive thoughts.