Relaxing?

I am exhausted. Like mentally, physically done.

I’ve been trying to get myself to relax, but it’s just not working. I’ve been doing 20+ hours at each job the last few weeks. There’s a lot of running between the two jobs, a lot of bizarre split shifts. One day I’ll be 9-12 and 3-5 at the book job and then 5:15 to 10:15 at the booze job. Another day I’m 9-12, 1-2, and 6-8 at the book job. When I’m home between jobs, I’m cleaning. A just finished moving out, so there is a tonne of things that need to get done at home (like scraping the 37 million pieces of Sticky-Tac off the walls). Some days, I’m lucky to get half an hour to make myself something to eat and sit for a few minutes.

Well yesterday, I was done work by noon. I did a quick drug store run for some hair stuff, and then headed home for the day. The plan was to do a little light cleaning, and then put my feet up and relax with some books.

Well that didn’t happen.

I threw a few things in the sink to soak, made myself a quick lunch, and tried to settle down on the couch to relax. I had books, Netflix, YouTube, some notebooks, and my kitties. I sprawled out on the couch, ready to just block out the world for a little while….. and my brain won’t shut off.

I pulled out a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, threw on some Under Arrest on Netflix, and my brain went into overdrive. “What needs to be cleaned? How long will it take to do A’s room? What if we can’t find people to rent with us? Would it be worth it to just start fresh in a new city? If I decide to just take off and move to a new city, should I try to get into that really hot tattooed guy’s pants first? Why is he always playing with his belt and pants when he’s standing in my line? Should I bring him another burger? Should I get myself some burgers? Should I make burgers? How many burgers are int he freezer right now? How bad is A’s freezer? Will I have to deep scrub it? What else needs some deep scrubbing? I wonder what Bowser is thinking right now.”

The louder my brain got, the more I tried to quiet it. I tried meditation, singing random songs in my head, day dreaming, stream of conscious writing, and even tried to close my eyes and nap on the couch.

Nothing helped.

I think I’ve forgotten how to actually relax. I can’t just put my feet up at the end of the day, pour a glass of wine, and let the day go. Now I pour that wine, talk with the X about our days, help finish making dinner, try to find something to watch on Netflix or YouTube, top up my glass of wine, mentally go over my to-do lists for the next few days, go over my work schedule for the next few days, make sure alarms are set, do a few Buzzfeed quizzes, try to pay attention to whatever X put on the TV, and group chat with some friends. Multitaskin Relaxin, that’s what I call this. I try to do ALL the relaxing things at once, because if each one is relaxing on its own just think of how relaxing they’d all be combined!

I’ve read all the articles, looked up hints and tips, read some books, and still can’t figure out how to just relax. I am completely worn out and need some sort of break, but I just can’t take one. As soon as I sit down to relax, I start thinking of all the things I should be doing instead. Instead of catching up on the sleep I need very very badly, I really should be at axe throwing school, or scrubbing the walls, or baking brownies for my coworkers at the store. I tell myself that I need the sleep, and that little voice in my head starts screaming “forget the sleep! You’re wasting your life! Think of all the things you could be doing right now! You’re going to die alone with 37 cats and they’ll eat your face!!!!!”

Ain’t anxiety grand?

So I guess I’ll just keep this routine going. I only have one shift scheduled next week for the book job so far, and I know I should take any time off I get to just relax and take some naps. But I already have a huge to-do list going in my day planner of things to get done when I don’t have to be at work.

Because what could be more relaxing than taking every article of clothing you own out of your closet and dressers, refolding and organizing everything, clearing off all your shelves and under your bed, vacuuming everything including the mattress, doing all the laundry, washing the walls, and dusting every available surface?

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Self-Care Weekend, Embracing My Inner Sloth

Right now there is a little black fuzzy face staring up at me from under the desk with giant kitten eyes that just scream “cuddle me”, but tiny razor-sharp claws that scream “touch me and your PJ pants become booty shorts”. He’s upset that the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend had to get up early today and head into work, and I’m sitting here in my favourite blanket drinking coffee, which means I’ll be getting ready for work soon too.

I somehow managed to get this past Sunday off, and Monday was a holiday so we both had a day off. Yes, somehow we had a full, entire weekend to ourselves. That never happens to us! Sundays are the only day I am pretty much guaranteed a decent shift at work, so I very rarely get them off. And even though AAB takes the occasional Monday off, I’m usually closing up the store and doing what feels like 37 things at once at home before work. I honestly can’t remember the last time we just randomly had an actual full, unplanned weekend off where we had no responsibilities to attend to, no family events, no huge tasks to complete, and no feeling a panic setting in while we realize all the things that we didn’t do.

This weekend, our to-do list was minimal, at best:

  1. Clean out Bowser’s litter box real good, like AAB does every Sunday so that Bowser has a nice clean place to poop.
  2. Take out the garbage.
  3. Make sure we get anything we need from the grocery store and liquor store before they close.
  4. Hydrate at some point.
  5. Watch Olympics.

Seriously, that was all we had scheduled for the entire weekend!

Ok, so AAB’s mom and aunt announced they were coming over on Sunday, which threw a slight wrench in our “go to the really cute grocery store I love, eat fresh spring rolls in front of the tv, and read a bunch” plan we had somewhat worked out in our heads.  But they were coming over because AAB’s mom bought a small freezer for him for his birthday, which meant a brand new giant box for AAB to turn into a small castle for the regally fuzzy Bowser Kitten.

The rest of Sunday was pretty damn breezy. AAB didn’t go to university, and we live in a student neighbourhood near y old university, so he said he’s always felt a little out of place.  So, I gave him the full “random Sunday night in the middle of the semester” university experience. After setting up our freezer and making a quick trip to the Multifoods for my mushroom meat and random Japanese snack foods, we came home for a quick dinner. While I ate my tempura shrimp, spring rolls, and ramen, AAB made himself tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. After throwing his dishes in the sink, he promptly pulled a blanket up over his head and fell asleep on the couch next to me. It was not even 7pm yet on a Sunday night.

I let him nap for close to two hours while I moved over to the other couch to stretch out. I grabbed my books, the wireless mouse for the TV, and a giant glass of wine. I did a little research for the writing project I’m working on (which is what’s been keeping me from updating my blog the last week or so), curled up with the super cuddly Bowser Kitten under a pile of blankets, watched a little figure skating, and then threw on some old 90’s SNL episodes.

After he finally woke up and crawled off the couch, he grabbed himself a snack and his book and crawled right back onto it. We sprawled out on our respective couches, vowing we were going to get some actual read (and in my case, writing) done when we really just sat there watching the masterful Chris Farley crash through tables and choke on polish sausage. We distracted each other with YouTube videos ranging from pipe fitting tutorials to the 1998 Bourne and Kraatz Riverdance on-ice competition performance. We goofed off, munching on snack foods and watching whatever we could click on first on YouTube for hours. We jumped between random videos, Olympic highlights, and reading each other exerpts from the Bathroom Readers we had in our laps.

Suddenly, it was 4am. We were starting to crash a bit, drunk and full of popcorn. Instead of reaching for the energy drinks I had stashed in the fridge for the weekend, I suggested making a 7-11 run for provisions. So there we were at 4:30am, me with ripped up jeans over my baggy flannel PJ pants, him goofy from tiredness, stumbling around near campus in search of caffeine and snacks. Despite my lactose intolerance, I wound up getting an ice cream cone to go with my giant coffee and container of fried chicken. AAB got himself a much smaller coffee but still went for a bunch of fried chicken.

We chugged our coffees and curled up on our respective couches, snuggled deep in piles of blankets and throw pillows. I was the first to fall asleep a little before 7am, while AAB stayed up just long enough to watch the sun start to come up. We dozed on our couches for maybe 4 hours before waking up for much-needed water. And after that…… we really didn’t do all the much. AAB had gathered up the garbage and cleaned the litter box the night before, all we had left to clean was our dishes. I made a giant plate of Chinese dumplings and leftover tempura shrimp to snack on and moved my lazy butt over to AAB’s couch while he sat in the office for a change of scenery. Basically, I snacked and napped all day in front of the TV. I embraced my inner sloth, letting myself be all adorable and fuzzy with a stupid grin on my face. I napped, Bowser napped, AAB napped. We ate random junk, he baked chicken for his lunches, I made more noodles and dumplings, and we napped more. Then we stayed up extra late to watch the ice dancing final dances.

By the time we rolled into bed after 11pm on Monday night, we were both goofy from a weird form of exhaustion. We didn’t really do anything all day. At the most, AAB took a cab to the grocery store to buy himself some chicken, and I stood at the stove for an hour cooking and cleaning. We didn’t get done any of the things we had somewhat planned for the day, took multiple naps, lazed around all day, and still, we were exhausted. Maybe it was the fact that we both only got maybe 4 hours of drunken sleep the night before and were both hungover as hell. Regardless, somehow AAB forgot that Rod Stewart and Sting are not the same person, I forgot how to brush my teeth, and we both collapsed into bed for a few hours before he had to be up for work at 6am.

Usually, I feel super guilty for not doing anything for even a morning. We both needed this weekend though. I don’t remember having this much fun with AAB in a very long time. We were both just relaxed, my anxiety was almost non-existent, and he didn’t snap at me once the entire weekend.

In the end, this weekend just re-energized me. I was in quasi-sloth mode yesterday but was wide awake at 6am instead of going back to bed after AAB left for work. Even though I have today off, I’ve been up since 6:30am and have worked through a large chunk of my giant to-do list. The adorably sleepy Bowser Kitten is so confused, he had to take an extra nap today just to deal with me so far! I’ve cleaned, written, gathered my research, cooked, and it’s not even noon yet! After a quick shower, I’m off to go do my laundry, and then finish cleaning up the house yet again!

Sometimes we all need time to just embrace our inner sloth.

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Can anyone explain to me how this is supposed to be relaxing? The lines and spaces are so tiny!
My brother got me this adult colouring book of postcards, a pack of colour pencils, and a pack of markers, for Christmas. He was hoping that it would help me with all the stress and anxiety I have right now. I have a tonne of friends who swear by these damn books, saying they’ve never felt so relaxed before.
Well for me, this damn this is stressful as hell!
I can’t stay within the lines. I can’t plan the colours out so they look nice together. And my pictures look nothing at all like the ones I’ve seen online, with the shading and gradients. Honestly, this damn book makes me feel like a failure.
Seems pretty stupid, doesn’t it?
And that’s ok.
As I’ve said before, not everything will work the same for everyone. Adult colouring books don’t help me at all. They help tonnes of people, but not me. What does help me? Cryptogram and logic puzzles. I know, who the hell is relaxed by those?
Just because everyone swears by it doesn’t mean it works for you. I have my long walks in the cold, loud metal music, rich red wine, and puzzles. Most of these things don’t work for anyone else I know (except the walks. My roommate is on a nice cold walk right now).
So you just make sure you’re doing what works best for you. Don’t try to force something just because everyone is talking about it. And that goes for most things in life.
So relax, my Sunshines.  And relax how ever works best for you.

Taking Time For You

As I said on Friday, you need to slow down. Yes, you. The one reading this right now.

I know sitting at your computer, reading random ramblings on WordPress, doesn’t seem like something you need to slow down from. But what else are you doing? Are you at work? Studying? Writing a paper? How many tabs do you have open right now, and be honest with yourself. While you’re reading this, you’re probably reading 3 or 4 other websites, have a notebook open somewhere near you, maybe an open book or stack of paperwork, and are thinking about what you need to get done later on today.

Is that really relaxing?

I had a friend, after my health crisis in University, try to get me to meditate. It had always worked for her in the past, helping her relax when her brain wouldn’t slow down. I followed her steps, met with her meditation group, lit the candles and chanted the mantras. All that happened for me was I wound up sitting there for an hour, wondering how much other stuff I could have gotten done in that time. While the dozen or so people around me seemed to transform from tightly wound workaholics to completely relaxed and chilled out, I was more stressed afterwards than when I got there.

Another friend brought me to yoga. Again, this was something she swore by. I already did stretching and random yoga poses at home while watching tv, so it seemed like something I could get into. Instead, I was a miserable stress case. Again, my brain wouldn’t shut off, just like in meditation. But this time, on top of that, I was worrying about the yoga poses. Being a yoga noob, I couldn’t pull off any of the advanced (or even intermediate) poses that I thought looked so easy. I stressed myself out over being so unflexible, and out of shape. Then I got stressed because I was sure unflexible wasn’t a real word, but I couldn’t think of a real word to mean what I thought. Again, I left more stressed out than when I got there.

So, after losing myself in thought on my walk to work one day, I came up with my own relaxation method. I like to daydream. I’m always lost in though while I walk, remembering parts of dreams or story ideas. I’d daydream about saving my co-workers from armed robbers, or learning to cook a fish dish so amazing that Gordon Ramsay shows up on my doorstep in a Speedo to try it. When people offered me rides places, I turned them down so that I could walk and get lost in my thoughts for a bit.

Daydreams are my escape. I can imagine winning the lottery, or the boyfriend taking me to the petting zoo, or my awesome co-worker just being goofy and making me laugh. I can imagine the fantastic or the ordinary, the impossible or the probable. In my head, there are ninjas, samurai, hobbits, narwhals, dragons, and even Batman (or a reasonable (and half naked) facsimile thereof). The world inside my head is awesome, and it’s all mine!

So, every night, no matter how much I have to do or how stressed I am, I go to that world. I imagine Batman coming to save me from danger, and then me having to save him when the danger gets a little out of control, and then him getting to thank me. What a better way to end the day then with that image in my head as I get ready for bed?

My method might not work for everyone. That’s why it’s my method. I made it for me, because it works best for me. As I said, meditation and yoga work great for some people. Other people need books, or a massage, or a sensory deprivation tank. The main thing is you need to find what works for YOU. Only you know what you need.