Friday, August 12, 2016

The Eastern Arts of Relaxing

So I don't think it's been a secret that I've not been my normal happy self since I lost my job at Wells.

I wouldn't say I've been depressed, but it's been more of a constant state of anxiety and exhaustion. Since March, I think I've only woken up feeling refreshed maybe 25-30 times.

When I first lost my job, I combated the anxiety by working out a ton. I would run the 2 miles to the gym, bust out an hour workout, and run the 2 miles home. When Sal got off work, we'd go for a walk, maybe hit the gym a second time, and I was constantly cleaning and working on house projects.

This kept the endorphin's flowing enough to where the anxiety didn't paralyze me into a state where I was sabotaging myself interviewing for jobs as you all know, I landed another job pretty quickly.

I like my job a lot. I love the company and people. I know that it's going to click. Most of what balls up in my neck and chest is the anxiety of not knowing how to do my job. It's also this snowball effect of constant adult anxieties that have been building since essentially I started high-school. Every year, it gets a little larger, even when I see some relief in things causing the anxiety.

Now that I'm working again, at a pretty demanding job, I find my workouts have gone out the door. Heck, I'm lucky if I can get up from my desk for more than 2,000 steps a day. (Comparison, at wells, I usually ended the day with 3,500-4,000 steps)

So exercise isn't holding off the demon anymore.

So, getting desperate, I started trying some non-traditional things.

First, I went to acupuncture. I told them that both my leg still hurt and that I constantly felt stressed and tired.

They popped about 20 needles into my leg, arms, and head and I sat in a room for 45 minutes listening to calming string music and water moving.

I think I went to a different place during this. I went to some state of nirvana. The 45 minutes felt like 5. When they came to take the needles out I felt incredibly refreshed and ready to take on the weekend.

I'm going back today and there's some battery inside of me that is yearning for it.

The second thing I started doing it meditation.

A guy I listen to on a podcast started talking about how meditation has changed how he lives life and how it really relieved a lot of stress and anxiety. He had a hard time considering meditation because of the instant picture most people get in their head when you talk about it, IE people think of hippies with pony tails and Asian robes chanting while sitting cross-legged.

And that's why he recommended Dan Harris' "10% Happier" book. Dan Harris hates those hippy types, but meditation did change his life. So it's written from the perspective of an average Joe.

Dan is a news anchor personality who had an anxiety break-down on air after not working on his stress for years and started seeking ways to fix himself.

I've been doing it for about 10 days now. I wouldn't say I'm getting close to Nirvana, but it is nice to have 5 minutes a day with no noise, with my eyes shut, just thinking about breathing.

And it's starting to have an affect. Part of my anxiety and stress has come from the unknowns of the future, or dreading the future, or missing the past.

Every Sunday night, I start dreading signing into work Monday morning because I just don't feel relaxed enough.

I stare at how much we still owe on student loans, medical bills, and our car every other week and just feel like the balances will never be close to zero. It puts me in a very nihilistic frame of mind where I think, "Why am I on this hamster wheel at all? What's the point of working so hard if most your money is going to these things?"

And then nostalgia kicks in where I think about a simpler time like college. I was working 50 hours a week and going to school full time, but I knew what I was doing. I had relatively low debt. My rent was cheap. My body was in good shape and I just want to crawl back into 2006 like a warm blanket.

Meditating is about staying in the present as much as possible. It's not saying don't plan for the future and don't look back on the past with a smile, but it's saying recognize the moment you're currently living in. Realize how much you're enjoying that sandwich or how great the wind feels against your face while you ride your bike.

I'm starting to realize how much I lean on the future dread and the past. I haven't exactly figured out how to stop it from negatively affecting me yet, but the fact that I'm noticing it feels like real progress.

So I'm hoping by continuing acupuncture and meditation, I'll get to a good spot.