On the outside, I look quite calm. My face may even be described stony… You might as me, “Hey, how are you doing?”, and I’d probably answer with the standard, “OK”. But I’m not OK. I just don’t know how NOT OK I am. It’s not always easy for people like me to understand on an emotional level that they are stressed out.
Over time, however, I have become to understand the variety of signals my body and mind send me to let me know: STRESS ALERT. Signals like dishydrosis, sleepiness, Aspergers-like outbursts, and extreme introversion.
[Late dishydrosis on my hand (Instagram)]
Another sign of stress I’ve experienced could best be described as “uncontrollable thoughts in my head”: debates that circle around and around the topic at hand. Arguments and counterarguments run with literal voices as if there was a non-stop debate radio switched on somewhere. Sometimes it’s OK, but many times it is not. I want and need these things to stop.
I figured out a few things though as I considered these habits/loops of mine.
Whether I’m physically or socially fatigued, it doesn’t matter. These types of tirednesses may cause a negative feedback loop that brings out the worst in this INTJ. Adding biological factors like hormones pre-menstruation makes matters even more frustrating as an extra bitchy side comes out. (Imagine a female Gandalf.)
As a result, when I am PMS-ing or physically tired, I don’t push myself to meet people or go out or even go online. Retiring and focusing on something (like crochet or Witcher 3) is sometimes the way to go.
Being forced to be party to or being forced to watch other people make what I think as poor life choices makes matters worse. Female!Gandalf really comes out.
When I was a child, collecting pictures of my favourite fandoms and celebs was something I enjoyed. Years later, with the advent of Tumblr, I felt as if the most mobile and comprehensive fandom library had been offered me on the Internet platter. However, around three years ago, Tumblr appeared to be inundated with a variety of hostile ideologies that increasingly grated on me. Facebook was no better.
To that end, I curated my Facebook feed and also fasted Tumblr for a year or so. For my celebrity crush needs, I resorted to using Weibo (a Chinese social media website), which has a solid fanbase for my current celeb crush, which allows me to stalk him long-distance without being confronted by obvious moronic internet behavior (due to language barriers, I have enough Chinese to know how to navigate the site, but not enough to get in trouble/confront serious political matters).
REAL LIFE OBSTACLES
Real life can challenge us all in very big ways. For me, moving to my own apartment in Canada for the first time and returning to school was daunting. There was a lot of awareness that, although I was surrounded by friends and family who would help me when they could, I needed to take hold of independence – responsibility and privileges together.
Life changes such as these can cause stress. Breaking things down into manageable pieces is the first step to success. I combated rising stress by using my bujo strategically, enabling a “down-time” space at night to not only enjoy my spiritual devotions but also enfold my devotions with my scheduling practices. Bujo has been a really great way to exercise massive control – not only over my life, but over how I utilize schedules and trackers to deal with my life.
Running away to a safe space isn’t the answer. Creating strategies to manage stress should only be implemented with the end goal of gaining strength (mental and emotional), cementing better habits, increasing awareness of self, and educating oneself in areas of knowledge required to go forward. Without these aims in mind, the spaces we create for “healing” and “growth” become cotton wool that disallow us from being able to face what still remains lying in wait for us. However, when caught in negative feedback loops (like the eternal INTJ internal debate), we need to make ourselves to do something productive. Confidence in small areas (solving a puzzle, completing a craft/project, or exploring a cave in Velen) can be then used to face the issue head on, assess the problem, break down a solution into small steps, and put the solution into action.
Picture Reference: Gopin, Marc. “Nasty Neural Habits: Take 2 Positive Thoughts and Call Me in the Morning.” Huffington Post. Aug 30, 2014.