Thursday, December 13, 2012

No Sleep Tonight

Up and About at 4 A.M.

Stress is a Funny Thing

I am awake. Don't ask me why. If I had to take a wild guess I would blame it on stress. I don't feel stressed out but my body is telling me otherwise. My last paper is due in a few days and I know I have more than enough time to complete it. But, my body must be feeling some sense of urgency. When I know I have work ahead of me I have a difficult time sleeping. So, although I am relatively tired and would love to be sound asleep in my warm bed at the moment, I am not. Instead I am up and about at 4 A.M. and I am not very happy about it. Since it seems apparent to me that I am not getting any more sleep tonight I decided that I would be productive instead. So here I am, sitting at my kitchen counter, writing a blog entry. I have already looked up at the hours for Starbucks and am planning on going there as soon as they open so I can begin writing my last assignment. I might as well just get it done as soon as I can...I can always sleep later...I suppose that stress is a funny thing and works in mysterious ways. We all react differently to it and it can manifest in numerous ways. It doesn't ever seem to be consistent. Sometimes when I am stressed all I can do is sleep. While at other times (like today) I can't manage to sleep at all because of the multitude of thoughts bouncing around in my head. Sometimes I'll get ulcers in my mouth. Other times I won't be able to eat at all. But occasionally my response will be the exact opposite of that and all I will want to do is eat. I don't understand stress but perhaps I am not meant to. All I know at this point is that my underlying stress is resulting in no sleep tonight. Although I don't feel stressed or seem to be exhibiting it's usual symptoms- fast heart beat, clammy hands, butterflies in my stomach- I have to believe that stress is the reason I am awake right now. (I can't think of any other reasonable cause.) So I want to focus on an affirmation about stress and attempting to manage it-

I breathe and face stressors with a calm mind and relaxed attitude.

I feel as if this is an affirmation that I can truly embody. I know my anxiety about making progress on my paper is keeping me awake but I will not allow this stressor to provoke a level of debilitating stress within me. I have a plan. I have time. I know what needs to be done and I have the means- mentally, intellectually, and with regard to time- to complete the steps required to create a well-organized, quality paper. It is counterproductive when we allow ourselves to get worked up about stressors and challenges in our life. We are unable to do anything about them if our stress reaches a high level- We can't think straight. We can't sit still. We can't focus on what needs to be done when we are overwhelmed and we end up putting more energy into the act of be stressed instead of into the task or problem that needs to be faced. The only way to respond to stressors, no matter what they are- organizing a party, writing a paper, entertaining guests, resolving a fight, studying for an exam- is with an air of confidence and sense of calmness. Look at what needs to be done, map out how much time you have to complete everything, organize your thoughts, and then get started. Stress is a part of life. It's not going anywhere. No matter who you are or what your occupation is- student, stay at home mom, doctor, teacher, therapist- stress will always find a way to enter your life. For this reason we must learn the most effective ways to cope with it. We need to utilize tools that allow us to deal with stressors in a healthy and productive way. While not getting a good nights sleep is not the most healthy way to handle a stressor, such as my paper, it doesn't really seem to be in my control right now. The only thing I can do is make the most of this time by getting some work done. Hopefully completing some of the work will help to reduce my stress level and I'll be able to catch up on sleep later.
Truly, the only way to eliminate stress is to face the thing that is causing it. In my cause it's my final assignment. The only way to remove some of the stress that it is causing is by buckling down and making progress on it. Similarly, the only way to eliminate stress caused by a fight with a friend is to face the person and talk about it. The only way to alleviate stress resulting from a heavy workload is to start working and gradually reducing the load. The only means of eliminating stress resulting for entertaining guests is to get your house in order and prepare for their arrival. Put simply, the only way to completely release your stress is by taking action against and/or in response to that which is causing it. Sitting around and worrying about it isn't going to a damn thing. Frantically attempting to face it is not the most productive or healthy way to fight it. To reduce the stress in our lives lets be proactive. Lets look our stressor in the eye and take a deep breath. If we believe that we can handle the situation then nothing is preventing us from remaining calm and relaxed when going head to head with our stressors. As we go about our days and stressors or challenges enter our path let us remember this affirmation, let us remind ourselves that we are capable, and lets not allow stressors to stress us out.

Hope you all are sleeping well while I'm up and about,

12 Days Til Christmas, 5th Night of Hannukah

Christmas Lights on Locust Walk at University of Pennsylvania- These always cheer me up on my way to class !

Silent Night, Bing Crosby