October 02 2016
Happiness/Health & Wellbeing/Sanity

Bouncing Back from an Unfocused, Anxious Week

bouncingThe past week has been the kind of stressful, self-defeating period that never fails to result in harsh self-judgement, anxious indecision and a complete breakdown of my ability to focus.  Pretty much my holy triumvirate of bad, bad, bad thought patterns.

It all began, as it so often does, with spending money and regretting it.  My 8 year old son’s room is impossibly small.  I decided it was time to get rid of the enormous dresser that we got when he was born and replace it with something that takes up less floor space, while offering more drawers.

Sensible enough. Of course, this set into motion never-ending online searches for the perfect tall but skinny dresser at an affordable price.

Even though I chose the cheapest one I could find that was decent quality (every Ikea item I own has broken – Ikea and I need some time apart), I still spent a nice chunk of change.  And if I was going to go down the path of updating his room, he also needed a coat of paint and some extra carpet tiles for where we will be opening floor space.  Floodgates. Opened.

stressing over money
Paint job came good, but the dresser has to go.

We are going to Maine in two weeks to go hiking and I realized that I needed hiking shoes.  And hiking pants.  Anthony Ongaro’s excellent post about “false first steps” on Break the Twitch is literally blaring in my head as I click “add to cart.”  I stopped myself from buying binoculars – thank you Anthony – borrowing them from our friends, along with a bunch of their hiking equipment.

Then I realized I should probably secure Halloween costume supplies before everything gets sold out.  Also, I just learned that I will be hosting my family of 18 people for our big Italian Christmas Eve tradition.  In my tiny apartment.  This is going to require more seating and a bunch of other stuff.  Vague, unknowable expenses begin to bloom in my thoughts, weighing me down.

Thus I went into the weekend stressing about money, stressing about work — unpleasantries await me on Monday — and also stressing about how I did not visit my parents this week on my work-from-home day because I was too busy painting.  I did not do any writing, or many of the other things I had hoped to.

Overwhelmed, anxious and paralyzed.  This is my bad place.

My husband, ever wise, told me I should write about it, try to do things I enjoy this weekend and spend some time alone. I did.

Friday I practiced some ukulele.  I sat on the couch and watched a movie snuggling with my little one.  Saturday, I went on a fantastic two hour bird watching walk in the park. I saw some beautiful birds up close thanks to the great eyes of the more experienced birders.  My husband and I went for drinks with friends and then to see a band play.

More money spent, but I was starting to feel better.  I took my dog to the park early Sunday and went on a walk through the wooded paths, came home and made a nice big Sunday morning breakfast.  Nothing to do today but drop my son off at a birthday party, gather my thoughts and write.  Er, and clean.

This is how things begin to untangle.

When I’m stressed, all my little concerns get jumbled together to create one big, vague super-worry, floating above my head.  This unnamed anxiety soup becomes a shapeless angst that I can’t even fully express.  The resulting worry is debilitating, it just stops me in my tracks.  I can’t make decisions, focus or find my way forward.

My husband asked me if I wanted a chicken cutlet for dinner this week and I literally could not answer the question.  The thought of cooking, figuring anything out, going to the store, or making a decision of any kind became this oversized burden I couldn’t even contemplate.  This is my bad stress pattern.

But I am starting to see the patterns for emerging from this, as well.  It helps to start by simply resetting. Doing things like taking walks outside, seeing friends and taking a break from ruminating on my concerns allows my brain to start untangling things subconsciously, on its own.  Worries start to seem a little smaller when they get untangled and delineated.  When I’m calmer, I’m able to perceive what’s bothering me a little more objectively and not judge myself so harshly, which, I am learning, is unhelpful.

A little lighter…

Once my giant super-worry has been deconstructed a bit, and I am in a slightly better frame of mind, I can try nailing down what I am really concerned about and what I am going to do to fix the problem (at least as much as I can).  I can’t berate myself for every dollar I spend.  But I know that I do need to identify places where I can cut back because the months are only going to get progressively more expensive for the remainder of the year.

I need to go into work tomorrow in an aggressive frame of mind and not waste any time.  It needs to be one of those machine-like days where I am extremely disciplined with my to do list.  I need to visit my mom this week, especially since I will be away the following week.  And I need to start making some lists to really prepare for the holidays.  Once again, I’m amazed to find that none of this is earth shattering.

How is it possible that, depending on which side of the one-way mirror of my brain I am standing on, things can go from painfully insurmountable to eminently manageable?

You Might Also Like

  • It’s great you were able to step back and take a bit of a break, at least for a weekend, to gain a bit of clarity on how to move forward. It always helps me to do the same when I feel overwhelmed and on a stressful downward spiral.

    I took the last three days off from “real life”. I was able to spend so much time with different groups of friends and family. Though it was exhausting, it leaves me feeling renewed for the upcoming week.

    By the way, LOVE the paint job in your son’s room. Looks amazing!

  • The room looks terrific.

    I get in these stress loops as well where one stress leads to more stress and floundering about, and then more stress. Resetting and stepping away is key. Also, focusing on what I did get done instead of what didn’t get done or what still is to come.

    • I hate when every little worry all becomes this one big stress bundle. Before you know it, you’re looking for things to add to the list of worries, things that you don’t even need to think about for months. I am the queen of that!

  • I love the update to the room. It looks amazing.

    I think it was incredibly smart to give yourself a break to gain clarity. For whatever reason the ability to step back really allows myself to see things better and I make much better decisions.

    So good for you for having that insight 🙂

  • You have a good partner to give you such sage advice and the time to follow through on it! I totally hear you on this… Sometimes I need that time to reset and then release some of those obligations, as not all of them absolutely need to be fulfilled. But in the moment they certainly all feel pressing and make up that stress cloud!

  • Things can get jumbled and overwhelming for me to. Sometimes I just need a solo hike, or long drive. Sometimes it’s taking a step in the right direction. Glad you are feeling better. =)

    1. Ms. Montana 12:45pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

      Things can get jumbled and overwhelming for me to. Sometimes I just need a solo hike, or long drive. Sometimes it’s taking a step in the right direction. Glad you are feeling better. =)

      • Brooklyn Bread 02:19pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

        Thank you Ms. Montana. Until I had a big fight with my landlord. Post to come… lol. Deep breaths. DEEP breaths. -Linda

    2. FF @ Femme Frugality 09:39am 07 October - 2016 - Reply

      You have a good partner to give you such sage advice and the time to follow through on it! I totally hear you on this… Sometimes I need that time to reset and then release some of those obligations, as not all of them absolutely need to be fulfilled. But in the moment they certainly all feel pressing and make up that stress cloud!

      • Brooklyn Bread 02:21pm 07 October - 2016 - Reply

        Yes – that’s it! The “stress could”! Thank you so much for commenting – I have to say, I really love your blog. -Linda

    3. angie 01:47pm 06 October - 2016 - Reply

      some times I am just happy to make it through the week when it all seems to go crazy I am happy that you made it through and you can share it with us
      come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

    4. Rita 08:51pm 05 October - 2016 - Reply

      Such a beautiful honest post! Room looks great!

      Rita | http://www.styleroundtheclock.com

    5. Mustard Seed Money 06:08pm 04 October - 2016 - Reply

      I love the update to the room. It looks amazing.

      I think it was incredibly smart to give yourself a break to gain clarity. For whatever reason the ability to step back really allows myself to see things better and I make much better decisions.

      So good for you for having that insight 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 04:32pm 05 October - 2016 - Reply

        Thank you for the comment! I think taking a step back is really all we can do in those stressful moments. Our brain is both our worst enemy and our savior. -Linda

    6. Krystel @ Planning The Magic 01:25pm 04 October - 2016 - Reply

      That room look so good! I appreciate your honestly and agree in giving your brain the chance to subconsciously figure things out. We all need that sometimes.

      • Brooklyn Bread 01:40pm 04 October - 2016 - Reply

        Aw, thank you Krystel. Could be worse, for a tiny little shoe box! -Linda

    7. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe 12:06pm 04 October - 2016 - Reply

      The room looks terrific.

      I get in these stress loops as well where one stress leads to more stress and floundering about, and then more stress. Resetting and stepping away is key. Also, focusing on what I did get done instead of what didn’t get done or what still is to come.

      • Brooklyn Bread 12:33pm 04 October - 2016 - Reply

        I hate when every little worry all becomes this one big stress bundle. Before you know it, you’re looking for things to add to the list of worries, things that you don’t even need to think about for months. I am the queen of that!

    8. Callie 11:05am 04 October - 2016 - Reply

      Love your honest posts! Thank you for sharing!

    9. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 10:31pm 02 October - 2016 - Reply

      It’s great you were able to step back and take a bit of a break, at least for a weekend, to gain a bit of clarity on how to move forward. It always helps me to do the same when I feel overwhelmed and on a stressful downward spiral.

      I took the last three days off from “real life”. I was able to spend so much time with different groups of friends and family. Though it was exhausting, it leaves me feeling renewed for the upcoming week.

      By the way, LOVE the paint job in your son’s room. Looks amazing!

    10. Mystery Money Man 06:42pm 02 October - 2016 - Reply

      As always, I love your honesty, it’s very encouraging. These are the kind of posts worth waiting a month for, let alone a week! 🙂

    Leave a Comment

    CommentLuv badge