March has been hard for me. The 17th was the WFH anniversary for my day job. As I’ve said before, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to preserve my health. As someone who is single, whose really only social network was at work, it did not come without its side effects.
I relapsed into old coping habits. Ice cream every weekend, sometimes multiple pints. As I told a therapist, I eat my feelings — every single one. When one is in a constant state of stress from both pandemic and work, that’s a lot of feelings to eat, and eat I did.
I had low energy, and did not keep up with my boxing. There really is something about boxing with a group of other people, but no way was I going to go back to my gym, where masks were optional and the ventilation poor.
I also returned to my other go-to coping mechanism: binge watching television.
None of these things made me happy. None of these things helped me achieve my goal of being a writer, despite drafting two novel length works in the second half of 2020. I’m still editing the first one, and the first quarter of 2021 is almost over.
After some reading and light research, I realized that my lack of sleep was probably a culprit. For the first three months of the pandemic, insomnia was the bane of my existence. I ended up taking over the counter sleep aids every day for about six or seven months in an effort to sleep. And it worked, I guess.
When I discovered the long term side effects of consistent benadryl usage, I stopped, terrified the insomnia would return. It didn’t, but I still wasn’t allowing myself to get my eight hours of sleep. Another coping mechanism? Staying up late will delay the next day, even though I knew from experience it would only make it worse.
Didn’t seem to matter.
With the first dose of the vaccine (had my high BMI to thank for that, I think), it kick started my brain into realizing that I had to make some changes.
The first change I’m finally doing after talking and talking about it? Seeing a therapist. I’m still in the early stages of that, so I don’t know how that will go or if I will need to keep looking for one with whom I’ll click. The main order of business is how to learn to healthily regulate and express my emotions without relying on my unhealthy, non goal achieving coping mechanisms.
The second change was uninstalling various apps on my phone–Tumblr to be specific. I caught myself scrolling Tumblr hours on my phone, delaying bed time, delaying getting up and going on a walk, delaying writing, delaying reading.
The third change I want to implement is limiting my tv watching to the weekends. I tried to do that this week, but did not succeed due to, you guessed it, day job work stress.
But a new week is coming, and I want to challenge myself again. No television Mon-Friday. With no commute, it is easy for me to split up my days: 8 hours sleep, 8.5 hours work, 2 hours exercise, 2 hours write, 2 hours read. That leaves an hour and a half for various chores, including a commute when the time comes (my commute is less than hour there and back).
As I am struggling to wean myself off these coping mechanisms (the tv binge addiction and internet addiction are real), I’ve had to put my writing and reading in the back seat. Reading/writing, due to lack of energy, has been a real struggle anyway in my adulthood. I am prioritizing my physical health because I’ve noticed that exercise is a pretty sure way to keep insomnia at bay.
My greatest priority will be sleep, and making sure I get those 8 hours every day.
My second priority will be weaning myself off those unhealthy coping mechanisms, which makes this my official accountability post.
What goals are you trying to achieve in the upcoming months?