Where do you park things?
April 18, 2021 8:10 AM   Subscribe

The short version is, my brain is getting overwhelmed by trying to deal with Covid stuff (horrific second wave in India), work stuff (difficult, sexist, contradictory, rage-inducing boss, utter lack of boundaries regarding working hours, consistently zero acknowledgement of the mental toll of the pandemic), dealing with a bunch of logistical issues regarding family relocation that cannot be put off, missing the person I started dating terribly (in different cities) with no clear visibility on when I might see them again, and renewed grief that life is just passing by in this mess of coping and loss and panic. The long version is too long.

I need to park stuff, especially the covid and work/boss stuff, so I can deal with as much as I can at one time. I need to find joy, but I'd settle for coping better. Rage journal? Deep breathing? Enforcing work-life boundaries (how does one even DO that as an anxious people pleaser?)? Take an 18 hour nap? Something has to change, otherwise I won't stay functional. I have to stay functional. Hope me.
Linking back to previous covid/managing wfh questions/articles would also be helpful, thank you.
(Why yes, I do have anxiety issues, why do you ask? I plan to bring up this stuff with my therapist but they are also unwell right now, sigh)
posted by Nieshka to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Vigorous exercise helps me- a long run, etc. And dedicated time to worry about a particular problem, such as looking for a new job (e.g., if you start thinking about it at another time, remind yourself you're going to focus on it on Saturday afternoon or whatever).
posted by pinochiette at 8:56 AM on April 18, 2021

The expressive writing! You can look up Pennebaker writing exercise, or expressive writing for instructions; there’s a ton of research showing that it’s life changing for many!
posted by spindrifter at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

I usually benefit from making action plans: things I can do to deal with any problems in my life. I don't necessarily execute these plans, because just writing them makes me feel better and less anxious.

I very much recommend having a rage diary. It must be something you won't be scared to write in, scratch things out, even angrily make holes in with your pen. Don't censor yourself. Never go back to read anything you wrote.
posted by gakiko at 12:26 PM on April 18, 2021

I want you to think of yourself as an animal, because that's what we all are. Would you ask an animal to do what you are doing now? Most animals are driven every day, then they go back to their stalls, get fed, then bedded down for sleep at night. Sounds easy, right?

Just because we have a forebrain, and can think about things, it doesn't make us less of an animal. We still need the down time. So your hindbrain is telling you something: this isn't working. It's doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing. The body is stressed, stop this now! And your forebrain is telling the hindbrain that it's wrong. But the hindbrain is always right. You need to slow down or the body will suffer.

There is no absolutely easy answer to your question. Your evil boss won't go away, your family won't go away, your dating partner won't go away. The answer is what is important to you. Is it important to make money? Then focus on the job. Is your love life important? Then quit the job and move. Is your family important? Then quit the job and help them, and get a job another time.

There is no one answer to your question, because it contains multiple questions. Your brain is trying to figure out many questions and trying to solve them, as brains are meant to do, but you have to pick which problem is most important to you in order to satisfy your brain.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:45 PM on April 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I mind map. (Sorry I don't have time to elaborate) but that's how I get multiple stressful things down on paper and parked. It means I can add stuff as it comes up rather than having to think linearly.
posted by freethefeet at 3:53 PM on April 18, 2021

I did puzzles during the worst of covid here (it never got that bad, but it was back when we didn't know much). My brain needed a problem to solve, and it couldn't solve covid.

Not sure if this helps but:

1. Covid - you can't solve this. Not your problem. The science is fairly well known now, there is nothing you can do except follow public health guidelines.
2. Logistics - This one you can solve. It may be frustrating and demoralising and tedious, but this one probably has a solution. Might be more expensive or more time consuming than you'd like, but that one is probably worth thinking over carefully. Once you've made a decision, try not to second guess it. You're just trying to help them get where they need to go.
3. Boss - I would use #2 as an excuse to push back. "Sorry, I'm spending every weekend going through my mum's stuff for her move, couldn't answer your email." "Sorry, my dad's removalist just cancelled, I need to go home on time". Unless you work in public health, your family is more important than making your boss happy 24/7. When you're at work, work, but otherwise, you're focussing elsewhere.
4. LDR - This is hard. Like it just is. Sounds like it's not something you've come up with a solution for. It's OK to get grumpy and sad and wallow, but unfortunately, this sounds like a "can't be fixed right now" problem. Is there a date at which a solution will become easier to find. It can be helpful to have a "I won't be able to fix this until partners finishes his exams" or other deadline that's not to far away. Try to find something to look forward to.
posted by kjs4 at 6:46 PM on April 18, 2021

Sometimes it helps me to figure out that my role in a situation is compassion and kindness rather than solving the world's problems. For Covid, you cannot fix the situation. You can research it and understand it and fully document what the governments of the world SHOULD do or what long ago policy changes led to it --- and none of that will help a single person. It helps instead for me to acknowledge it is a sad thing, to be sad, and to feel compassion for the people who are in a terrible and dangerous situation. When it's not something you can fix or help by analysis, the details are not helpful.

Of course if you have family and friends asking for your advice or help, then try to help and advise them, but it is easy to get caught up in the horror of catastrophe and focusing on compassion helps to guide the heart to a better, more peaceful place.
posted by Lady Li at 9:24 AM on April 19, 2021

Good advice from others to get everything on paper in one form or another. Our brains are very good at holding a thousand thoughts and flashing them to our inner eye like a constant merry-go-round. Exhausting.

I literally tell myself "I don't have time for worry now. Now is time to relax. Now is time to eat. Now is time to sleep. Thank you brain for alerting me to all the details of this situation but you are not helping. Now I need to rest, so I can tackle another day tomorrow. Please be quiet." I gently but firmly shut my brain up and try to focus on the step in front of me. The next task. The next hour. The next day.
posted by Fallbala at 1:35 PM on April 19, 2021

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