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  • jeniferfoster2

STRESS. And coping.

Alright people. Time for honesty. I have been feeling stressed and all of my lousy coping skills are coming to play. Truly. If I have a non-healthy coping mechanism, it has been visiting me in the past week.

So – yep, buying things I don’t need, done it. Eating food I don’t need, check. Eating more than I should. Yep. Staying up really late in order to avoid whatever is happening the next day. Yes. Drinking alcohol. Yes. Avoidance. Indeed. Avoidance of people and healthy coping mechanisms. Avoidance of exercise. Check. Check. I am sure the list goes on, but that is where I’m going to stop.

What is happening? I mean, in general, I like to think I’m actually pretty good at dealing with stress. But, not this past week. This past week, I have been 100% in avoidance mode. I often wonder what triggers these situations for me? It doesn’t always seem tied to anything specific.

I mean, if I think logically, it makes a little sense. I have felt really torn in multiple directions recently. I am financially strapped at the moment. I think I’ll recover, but there have been a lot of expenses recently that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. Most of it is not bad, but sometimes with finances, it feels a little like when one thing gets out of whack, things start down a path that becomes a slippery slope. (That little “spending money to make me feel better” mood isn’t helping).

Also – I have a lot of balls in the air. There are few things that aren’t particularly exciting, but which have been taking up time. For instance, our bathroom was wrecked for a long period of time. But, after many many many months of it looking like a hot mess, we have gotten it into some reasonable semblance of a bathroom. Luckily both my boyfriend and I are pretty handy people. We have done a LOT of renovations since we bought our home, but every single one has been stressful. He is always good at bringing the energy initially. I’m a little like a cat on a leash being pulled along against my will. But, I’m always happy for the end result.

The other decent, but not particularly interesting, thing I’ve been working on has been working on my therapy business. As a social worker, every two years, I have to complete forty hours of continuing education classes. Because I’m not always the best at spreading this stuff out, up until two weeks ago, I still have thirty hours left to complete. Now, I’m done. The classes have been interesting (and they have sparked interest in other classes – which has now led to more financial stress) but, I’ve been spending a lot of time getting these classes done so I could renew my license, which was about to expire. Also, I’ve been doing things like researching software for therapy and learning how to get on insurance panels. Definitely not the most exciting, but necessary – especially if I’m going to climb out of this financial hole I seem to be crawling in.

Since I’m back in DC, I’ve also been making attempts to catch up with friends and family. This has not been happening particularly quickly – but, you all know by now that I’m an introvert! I have to pace myself (especially when I’m feeling stressed). I really do have amazing friends though, and I’m particularly lucky in this regard. It was probably one of the things I missed most when I was in Roatan.

I have some exciting stuff coming up probably in the next couple of months. If you know me, you’re already aware, but I try not to reveal information before it is nicely settled so as to not jinx myself. I’m not superstition on most things – but, I do believe that life has a way of making you realize that absolutely nothing is in stone. So – you’ll learn about those things when things are a little more ironed out. That being said – they are exciting, but also somewhat time-consuming and cause some anxiety. So, you know – they add to my overall angsty-ness.

And – well, there is one glaring issue that I just don’t know how to solve. I miss diving. Like – really, really, really miss diving! I miss teaching diving. I miss hanging with the fish. I am befuddled on how to incorporate it into my life in DC. What in the world do I do? Do I even want to dive around here? How in the world do I make it part of my world? Do I travel frequently? If so, to where? Colombia? Roatan? My boyfriend is convinced he won’t like it in Roatan, so that means months without him. Some of the future plans that I am focusing on right now are definitely focused in the DC area. Was diving just some crazy blip on my otherwise normal career path?

I remember my mom telling me a story growing up. She had been trying to decide between two job opportunities: one with IBM and the other with Mobile (my mother was definitely before her time and worked in computers before it was “cool” and when computers still took up an entire room). She said she kept vacillating between which to pick, until the day she was supposed to let IBM know. She was on her way to work and saw a large truck with “Mobile” on the side – and she decided that was the universe pointing her in a direction. So, she chose Mobile. Now, is it possible that it was a complete coincidence, and it was a fluke that she went with Mobile? Perhaps. Although, I do truly believe that the universe often pulls us. Like when I decided I was going to become a professional diver, things literally lined up for me in ways they had never done before. That is a story for another day.

But, the point? I’m looking for my Mobile truck! I need the universe to show me the way. Sigh. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m not just sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting on the universe – but, it would be nice if a big truck showed up with a massive arrow pointing me in a direction!

Isn’t that often the difficulty though? In life, there are so many choices. It’s really no wonder that many people follow pre-defined paths. I don’t have any interest in that; but there is a lot of indecision surrounding creating your own.

And – so, now we come full circle. How do we deal with the stress? Well, we think of our pillars of wellness, and work our way through them. How do I feel physically better even though I have stress? Exercise. Eating decently. Alcohol in moderation. Getting enough sleep. What about emotional? Well, getting support from my network, talking with a therapist, exercise, eating properly (I told you – this stuff is connected!). Social wellness seems likely best achieved by reaching out to people who care. I’ve been doing that (although also trying not to be a terrible friend and just focus on myself. Many of my friends have been going through challenging things). Career? Well, I mean, that’s where this all started! I’m working on it. Financial? Yes, it’s causing me some stress at this point; but, I still believe that things will find a way to work out. Intellectual? Well, all of this decision-making is definitely making me stretch my intellect. Also, doing all of these trainings has also helped in that regard. Environmental? I have no idea. This one keeps tripping me up right now. I sure do hope that I find some answers in this way soon. Historically, I have really loved DC. Right now? I’m just not feeling it. Maybe this will ease. With regards to diving, there are some serious environmental considerations, and I don’t know how to negotiate them. Finally, spiritual. I have been begging the universe for some direction. I’ve also been doing counseling. I’m still quite grateful for that; however, as it reminds me on a daily basis to be humble for where I am in the world. Overall, I am quite inspired by my clients. They are quite brave – although I mean that differently than perhaps many might. They face their fears regarding change. They face their demons when it comes to the past. They breathe through the emotions that pile up.

So, how do you deal with stress? What are your go-tos? Are they healthy? If they use some unhealthy coping mechanisms, do you have ways of tapering them?

The good news is that even though I feel a little frazzled, I’m getting sh*t done. Things are getting checked off. I feel a little like I could light up the sky with my anxiety. But, I am actually dealing with it. Slowly. Ever so slowly. I mean, I can’t just wait on the universe forever. I have a feeling it may not be too long before I see some fish. And, everything will be right with the world again. Breathe.

I have been fairly shameless in stealing other people's pictures today. The first two pictures were stolen from these sites (respectively):

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