I’ve had a lot of work-related stress lately. And by lately, I mean daily for as long as I can remember. I went to my new lady doctor last month, and as he was reading my new patient paperwork, he saw that both my parents are drug addicts, that I have a personal history of anorexia and bulimia, that I currently suffer from insomnia, and he innocently suggested that I might have anxiety. I laughed and laughed.
In my opinion, anxiety is normal. Everybody else who is calm about this shit has the problem. Wake up, people! We are hurtling through space at 66,000 miles per hour, stuck to an overgrown dust-mote, which we are only able to survive on through a complex combination of atmosphere and gravity, aka magic. The universe itself is mostly empty and unknowably vast, and we’re so fucking clueless as to how this whole thing works that we’ve been sentient for at least 5 million years and only discovered the true structure of the clitoris in 2009! Not mars, not Alpha fucking Centauri, but the humble clitoris. It’s only been there since forever. We’re fucking morons. And we’re all doomed.
Unfortunately, reasonable as it may be, panic is actually really unproductive. So, here’s some things I do to calm myself down enough to function at the high capacity you’ve come to expect from me.
1. Jerk off
Masturbation is an essential part of my chill out routine. Without it, I’d either be dead or a murderer. Or both.
Fun Fact: Fucking also works sometimes, but sometimes not. Make sure your partner knows that this is a medicinal fuck. If they’re not a good nurse, they may have to leave the operating room.
2. Write my problem on a piece of toilet paper and flush it.
I didn’t come up with this. My friend Dan told me about it. When I can’t get a problem out of my head, it’s literally shitty thinking. It’s wasteful, and it’s unhealthy to hold on to. So, I put that shitty thinking where it belongs.
Buh bye obsessive non-problem non-solving. Off to turdland with you.
3. Diaphragmatic Breathing
This is especially helpful when I get that chest-tightness, fluttery heart thing. You know the thing.
Fun Fact: Diaphragmatic breathing is also a great exercise for people who are interesting in being able to yell louder. For those moments when you need the entire neighborhood to know how you feel.
4. Taoist Waterwheel Meditation
There’s more information here, but the basic principal of the meditation is that your heart and lungs are the steady, stable center of the wheel, which I imagine turning front to back through my body with the apex at my nose and the nadir at my belly button.
Through diaphragmatic breathing, I draw the air, not down through the center of my chest, but around the back of the wheel into my abdomen, and then I let the steady motion of the wheel take the empty wheel wells back and out my mouth. The idea is that the wheel turns steadily, even though breath moves in and out. In every stage, I am breathing and not breathing, the movement of life goes through me and yet, my heart and lungs, the center of my being remains calm and still.
Usually I find that the effort of maintaining the visual of the wheel in steady motion without hitching my breath or running short takes all my concentration so I have no time to freak out about anything else.
5. Take a walk
Exercise usually helps me center myself. Being outside on a walk is especially good for me since I tend to find the outdoors soothing, even if it’s just my neighborhood.
6. Write about it
This blog has been the venting grounds for a lot of my stress over the years. Writing shit down is cathartic, but it’s also a great way to organize my thoughts. Sometimes I stumble over a solution while I’m frantically writing about the problem.
7. Call a friend
This one I consider a last resort because if I called a friend every time I felt stressed out about something, I probably wouldn’t have any left. Being able to handle myself when I get weird and freak out is really important to me. Just as important as not dumping all my emotional bullshit all over my friends. But sometimes two heads really are better than one.