Coping mechanisms / Cry for help / Deployment / Wedding planning

Unplugged

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.

Neon bridal shower prep

Worth it.

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?

0 thoughts on “Unplugged

  1. You may not have to unplug completely … I think the big question is what are you unplugging from? Social media? Where can Jonathan reach you? You don’t have to unplug from EVERYTHING, but I definitely suggest taking time off from FB & Twitter when you can. (I deleted both from my phone because i was checking just to check – and my honey has neither of those.) Are you using those things as an excuse for not doing things you NEED to get done? Or are those things you NEED to get things done?
    (hehe, my health coach just came out!) 🙂

    • Oh, the social media was a given unplug (and I actually did well with that part!). The larger problem (and I don’t think I’m alone) is that we’ve all got 1000 little things going on at a time, with the 1000 corresponding people who NEED TO TALK TO US IMMEDIATELY about them, and it’s impossible to get anything done with the constant HEY LOOK AT ME I NEED YOU THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT NO NOW LOOK OVER HERE AND STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING and before I know it, it’s 11:00pm and the one poster I needed to make for my bridal shower is half finished and I haven’t eaten dinner. For me, it’s about a healthy balance; this week was one of those times when the balance was way off, and my priorities were being overshadowed by other people’s priorities, and I needed to restore that balance. In a way, it’s also a lesson in “saying no” (like you’ve been talking about); and I only lasted a few hours being able to say no to everybody else in order to say yes to myself. Live and learn.

      • Aw, see, you know exactly what you need to do!! Remember: No is a complete sentence. You don’t need to expand on it. 🙂 ALSO – the more you say no, or just get to things on YOUR time (not theirs), the more people will start to back off on demanding things RIGHT THAT SECOND. (Trust me, I go through this EVERY DAY at work – my boss is one of those ‘always an emergency’ people.)

        • LOL. YES. I had a boss once who used to mark more than half of sent emails with that urgency exclamation point! I was like…if EVERYTHING is important, NOTHING is important. I CAN’T TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY. WE NEED SOME XANAX IN THIS OFFICE.

          • YES!!!! I love that – I’m using it. Or the “YOU need to do this because *I* don’t like it” … *sigh* But, as soon as you stop coddling them, they’ll stop being brats. 🙂

  2. I need to unplug. I tend to get very wrapped up in things (i.e social media, emails, etc.) I think picking up a hobby beyond blogging and exercising may be the cure. Maybe I’ll knit? That would solidify my status as an 80 year old trapped in a 20-something’s body. Hmm…what to do what to do.

    • I’m big into crocheting for this reason! It’s a good way to always have a project to be working on that requires both of your hands, remaining seated, and some quiet time. If we’re going to be 80-year-olds trapped in 20-somethings bodies, at least we’ll get some nice scarves out of it.

  3. I’m sure I could use a serious vacation from my phone/social media/the interwebs, considering the fact that I had an actual panic attack when I went to dinner with my family at Red Robin a couple weeks ago and forgot my phone at home. Seriously, I was away from my phone for like, 60 minutes tops, and I was convinced that the world was going to collapse in that timespan.

    It’s bad, man. It is baaaad.

    But every time I actually consider unplugging, I always seem to convince myself that I *NEED* to be plugged in — for my blog, my book, my online relationships, whatever. Logically I know that the world will keep spinning without me checking Twitter every 49 seconds, but let’s be honest, when has logic ever ruled over my decision-making process?

    • I think eventually I’m going to go rogue unplugged and live on a remote island with no internet access and many palm trees. Or at least that’s where I’ll THINK I am while locked in the padded room of a mental institution.

  4. “Then I ate a Cadbury Creme Egg because…fuck it.”
    I just love you.
    I actually love spending time away from the computer; it feels so free. But, so do Creme Eggs, so I think you’re on the right track.

    • A day without email and WITH Creme Eggs is a day I’d like to repeat often. Or at least once a year, because that’s how often Creme Eggs are sold.

  5. Sorry I’m so late to reply to you 🙁 you’re so much awesome sauce that I just didn’t keep up! I hope you have a splendiferous weekend 😀 All that neon is really going to pay off. What are you doing to celebrate? Will there be pictures? I certainly hope so….

    I deal with stress by lashing out at people and eating chocolate. And getting clingy. When I was in an LDR getting clingy meant hugging my cats or hanging out with the roommates even though I was bored out of my skull. Or gaming online with other people. Anything to avoid thinking about the things that were weighing me down.

    Just remember, this, too, will pass and you will be happy and dance in the sun. With sunblock. So you don’t get burned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *