Life is not a spectator sport. Life is to be embraced, battled, survived and celebrated. Yet there are times (perhaps long stretches of them) that life is barely tolerable. The world, if it must exist, is best viewed from under a blankie from the vantage point of the couch. There are variations on this lookout. Perhaps a box of Cap’n Crunch (crunch berries optional) is involved. There may be an 18-hour background chatter of Law & Order employed. The constant of course is the elastic waist pant. No respectable day of sloth can be had in real pants.
Self-imposed solitary confinement is nothing to aspire to, but it’s not shameful either. One need only be concerned if frequency or duration increases (like an erectile dysfunction drug side effect; after four days one should seek medial attention.) If we are relatively healthy people, our forays into fleece and foods of childhood are sporadic and strangely motivating. But what of the everyday less-than-fleece malaise?
If life is lived with any participation: sh*t happens. Things come up that are not of our own making and that make us miserable. Even good things (new; jobs, projects, relationships, etc.) can make us feel overwhelmingly uneasy. Dread, misery and anxiety are often lumped into the category of “stress.” Since “stress” can also result from happy things, we sill stick with specifics; dread, misery and anxiety.
- Dread – Channel your Scarlett O’Hara
- Don’t think about it until tomorrow. Dread is one of the all time biggest thieves of happiness there is. Weeks will be wasted dreading an event that at most will encompass 24 hours. Each time a lump in the pit of your stomach starts to form, grab your phone, notebook, slab of stone and write down your specific concern (i.e., my cousin-in-law will use the funeral as a platform for subtle anti-Semitic rhetoric) and go back to the business at hand. Trust that the specific concern has been properly mulled.
- Focus on getting back to Tara. Yes that root canal or colonoscopy is going to be wretched. Nothing will change that. Focus on what you will do after the event (and after the narcotics wear off.) Plan something enjoyable.
- Awful things happen, that is the burden of survival. Disease, death, desertion are often unavoidable. Sadness and often mourning is wildly appropriate, but should not become a lifestyle. There’s really only one way out; take a shower. Get up, put one foot in front of the other and fake it ‘til you make it. Pretend you are functioning and before you know it, you will be.
- High anxiety (as it relates to a state of being not a Mel Brooks’ film) is a very uncomfortable state. Sustained non-specific anxiety (not related to an event) warrants medical attention.
- The remedy for event specific anxiety is often directly related to the event:
- Public speaking? Rehearse, rehearse & remember that most people aren’t really listening
- Job interview? Research and keep in mind that you are interviewing them as well
- Blind date? Have an exit plan
- Socializing with people you do not know? Think of yourself as Jane Goodall and discover everything you can about these people and their ways
Often the best way out or through is to consider what we’d advise a friend. Most likely we would not encourage a friend to perseverate, we’d encourage them to get up and get out. We would lift the afghan from their shoulders, brush the crumbs from their chest, wipe the melted ice cream from their chin and whisper; step into the sun, step into the light.