On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we had a high of 60 degrees, but mostly in the 50's. Chilly chilly. Then suddenly, with barely a warning...Heat Wave! I am serious, it is the craziest thing. 95 today, 98 tomorrow and it is 80 in the middle of the night. With the humidity so high, this is wicked hot for us. I feel like I have been stuck in a sweaty daze this weekend. My mind keeps wanting to get up and around, work on projects, go for walks. But my body replies by sitting still while beads of sweat form on my brow. I should take a cold shower.
I did finally get going on my patriotic apron for the Flirty Apron Swap. I am using some of my own aprons to get the right measurements, but am making up the rest as I go. I was able to find this fantastic patriotic pinup girl fabric and I am lining it with this vintage gingham I got in my great grandmothers stash. I have yards and yards of it in different sizes and colors. She must have bought it by the bolt. It is thin but perfect for lining. I am excited to get this done and off by Sundays deadline.
I have dealt with anxiety my whole life. At times it was paralyzing, stifling. I have had it mostly under control these last few years using medication and learning different techniques to deal with it. Crafting is a big one. Now and again however, if I am not sleeping very well and don't feel good, I don't have as much strength to fight it. It tries to stop me from doing all those things that help me deal with it so well. It feels like I have no control and I despise that feeling. Before I knew what I was dealing with, I thought it would never end. I know now that I can fight it and it will go away, as long as I don't let it consume me. The desire to create and participate in my life gives me strength to get through it but it doesn't make those moments any more pleasant. I know a lot of people deal with this. Many years of fighting it and experience have shown me that I am not alone. The struggle is remembering that and taking advantage of the love and support surrounding me when the moment hits. I think it takes time and practice, and a willingness to learn and change. That is the space I am in now. I have improved. I know that because I have a blog, and I do create when I can. And I can see beauty all around me, in things I never gave any notice to before. But there is so far to go, and now is the time for learning, acceptance and allowing myself to sit still and listen to my body and spirit when I need to. Here are a few of the things I do when I am in a slump and those tough moments arrive. When I can do something about it, or allow the fear, doubt and uncertainty to overwhelm me. If I have a list of ways to cope prepared, it is much easier to use them when I need to.
1. Breathe: I sit back or lay down and focus on the in and out motion breathing requires. I try to notice how my body reacts. When my mind starts to wander (as it always does) I try to slowly bring it back to the steady movement of each breath. Sometimes, I pick a few words to focus on to help keep me positive in the moment. For example, I think "patience" on the in breath and "balance" on the out breath. Sometimes it puts me to sleep, but mostly it just helps me get past the few minutes of strong emotion and anxiety, so I can make better decisions afterwards.
2. Crafting for Therapy: Through several programs I have been in to help me learn how to deal with my issues, I have gained great respect for the idea of using arts and crafts to deal with things therapeutically...(I can't believe I just spelled that right!). I know many of you are pro's at this. I approach this in two ways. The first is to actually craft out how I am feeling at the moment. One project I have used several times for this is making an inside out box. I get a small box, any will do. (I have used gift boxes to paint your own pottery boxes) I decorate the outside to match how I see myself on the outside. Then I do the inside to match how I see myself on the inside. These don't have to be fabulous works of art, you are just working through your emotions so you can see them more clearly. This was done about five years ago. Obviously both my inside and outside needed some color added, but it was quite an improvement from the one ten years ago so I will take it. This was about three years ago, it is a votive holder. Getting brighter! The point though, isn't to make it bright and happy, but to have a way to put a face to the difficult emotions your feeling. To give them an outlet. Another quick project to do is google inspiring quotes and find one that helps you in the moment. Print it out and use the feelings it inspires to decorate it in any way you want. You can even embroider it. Then keep it close so the next time you feel things tensing up, you will have it there to ponder.
The other way I use crafts is the more common way, the kind that most of us are drawn to. That is giving ourselves a way to be creative. Allowing whatever we are working on to consume us in a way, take us away from daily pressures for even a few moments. Or several hours. Since many of us do this anyway, I think the important thing is to recognize the positive effects of creating, and instead of it becoming a chore, allow it to be a few moments of healing as well. Before I started quilting, I went through a small mosaic faze. I would do this a lot more if I had more supplies. I love how they turned out, and though I gave most of them away as gifts, I did keep this one to hold candles and doodads.
3. Engage your Whole Body: The most common of this is of course exercise. Using you muscles, energy and willpower to push through the pain knowing you will feel better when you are done. Having your whole body engaged allows you to push through any emotions you have weighing you down. If exercise is possible for you, then try to make a little time for it. For some of us though, strenuous physical activity is not possible. I am limited in what exercise I can do by my health, so I have had to find new methods of practicing this skill.
The easiest way is to have a hot bath, or a cold shower. Slowly get it as hot or cold as you can and let your whole body accept the experience. When you are entirely engaged like that, strong and difficult emotions fade since your whole self is focused elsewhere. Sometimes I just step outside into the cold for a few minutes, or let the rain fall on my face.
4. Balance: This is something we will strive for our whole lives. Being able to do just enough of the things we need and want to, without one thing taking over. Having a routine really helps. Fitting a good sleep and healthy eating into that routine gives you the strength to deal with the challenges and struggles that we all must face. Trying to be empathetic to others also helps us keep our own lives in perspective and not get so upset when things don't go the way we would like.
This list is just a start, and I wrote it for myself as much as anyone else. I learned a long time ago that when we don't talk about things we struggle with they become more difficult and we start to think we have to face them on our own. The more we talk about those things, the less scary they become, and the easier it is to figure out ways to deal and grow. If anyone has other ideas and ways they deal with anxiety and down times, I would love to hear about them. Have a great week everyone and heres wishing you good weather and peaceful moments.