Earlier this week, I attempted to spend one day unplugged. No email. No social media. No phone, even, if I could help it, with the caveat that I would talk to Jonathan if he became available on any of these things, because love is the only thing stronger than my conviction to following through on intangible ideas that have no proof of personal success.
If you’re like me and have a history of not dealing well with stress, unplugging can be a powerful coping mechanism: spending a few hours doing what you need to do, and focusing on what you need to focus on in order to get a grip on your to-do list. If you’re also like me in that you spend a lot of time and energy on the act of worrying, setting specific time aside to deal constructively with those worries, and to face them distraction-free, is extremely important. And I don’t spend enough time doing that. Evidenced by the two separate times I sliced my hand while trying to peel an apple last week. I go through a lot of Band-Aids.
So, my fingers bandaged, I scheduled that time, popped a migraine pill, and put on some yoga pants.
But you know how we spend all this time saying “I need a vacation,” and then we take a vacation—we spend a few days sitting in the sun and under covers and remembering that the world is a beautiful place with 8+ hours of sleep and an oversize pair of sunglasses—but then we get back from the vacation, and realize that the stressful things happening to our lives outside of the vacation haven’t stopped happening? In fact, the stressful things have been happening even harder while we’ve been away, because they’re pissed at us for not prioritizing them, and want to teach us that ignoring them will end in insurmountable suffering because how dare they not get our full attention all day every day, WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?
So, basically, the stressful things in our lives are like excessively needy teenage girlfriends who are almost always on their period. Treat with chocolate. Results (and waistlines) may vary.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the internet and my cell phone during this deployment. When I lose 3G coverage, I panic. When I’m in a meeting where I can’t check my email for an hour, I panic. When I switch my phone onto silent, I panic. When I go to the bathroom, I panic, because I’m afraid in the one-hundred-and-twenty seconds it takes me to brush my teeth, I will have missed my chance to have human interaction with Jonathan, and another chance won’t come around again for a week. Because, yes; that has happened.
It is silly (and unhealthy) to worry at this level. I spend equal time panicking as I do reminding myself how stupid it is to be panicking. Which leaves no energy to actually accomplish things, because worry and panic and reminding myself not to worry and panic is exhausting. I am the reason sleeping pills exist.
Post-migraine pill and yoga pants convictions, I made it approximately three hours unplugged. And then forcibly continued to unplug myself for fitful 30-minute spurts for the rest of the day, the most successful of which I spent in the shower. I left emails unopened, only to open them five hours later and realize that the emails were trying to tell me something I needed to know as soon as possible, because life and stress and worry do not stop happening just because I want them to. Or just because I choose not to click on them.
So I caught up on the urgent emails. I switched my phone to vibrate. I took many deep breaths. I nibbled on a square of diabetic-friendly, sugar-free dark chocolate, because that’s what I keep in my house to save myself from myself. Then I ate a Cadbury Creme Egg because…fuck it.
By 6:00pm, my migraine was back. Though that may have something to do with the bridal shower preparations I was working on while attempting to unplug; sitting on the floor and staring at neon for several hours may not be the best cure for a headache. But I’m not a doctor, so what do I know.
Spending some time with the neon and tulle was my real coping mechanism, and it worked much more successfully than unplugging (though I’d like to give unplugging another try…perhaps from a beach…with several pairs of oversize sunglasses). My bridal shower (which is this weekend HOORAY!) is something I can physically prepare for; the shopping and crafting and baking are all things I can actively and constructively do, and then check them off my to-do list. Most of my other stresses right now are not so simple. I can’t make time move any faster, and I can’t make time move any slower, and I can’t force the universe to magically and simply accomplish everything that must be done in that time. Trust me; I’ve tried. The universe thought I was being a bitch, so it hurled an ant infestation into my kitchen. Point taken. Also I hope it’s okay to spray half a can of Raid down your kitchen sink, because I did that.
How do you cope with stress and worry? Do you ever unplug? How do you tackle all the to-dos after taking time off?