Slow down, especially during high-paced periods. I tend to slow down and seek breathing room whenever my fast-forward button is pressed. That means I step away from my to-do list. I stop writing. I watch more scripted TV. I ignore America’s political foolishness and the latest tomfoolery in Black pop culture. I call it chillaxing. My partner calls it procrastination. My spirit calls it stress management.
In May, I had to press fast-forward in order to pack my life’s possessions (again) and relocate (again) to (presumably) Tennessee. All the while, my partner and I had no idea where we’d move or what position she’d land. And, we had no idea whether we could make all the puzzle pieces fit together in less than six weeks, before the end of our one-year lease. With ambiguity, pending unemployment, and limited savings added to the mix, all you see is one big question mark week after week.
Thankfully, the Ancestors never fail us.
My partner landed the position she wanted deserved, which meant we had a solid moving date. We located housing, finished packing, rented a U-Haul truck, hired movers, and sold two cars. All of this in less than three weeks. All of this while I continued to work full-time. All of this in the midst of other obligations.
Since relocating on June 30 and returning from a trip to Chicago, things have slowed down. There have been a few days where I’ve done absolutely nothing besides read or watch movies. Because I wanted to. Because I needed to. Because my spirit said so.
For years, I believed I didn’t experience stress. I didn’t know what it looked like or how it felt in my body. I associated stress with emotional chaos, and chaos and I had never met. What I didn’t know (in my early adulthood) is the difference between “stress” and “stress management.” I’d hear people say, “I’m stressed out” and I had no idea what that meant. I’d never experienced a series of events that led me to say, “I’m stressed out.” Although I didn’t relate to stress, I didn’t know I was often in stress management mode.
Till this day, you’d be hard-pressed to ever hear me say the word stress. But now, I know that my chillaxing is a symptom of stress management. I’ve learned my slowpoke mode is how I help maintain psychological equilibrium.
I still don’t know how stress feels, but I know I have a healthy response to it. Also, I recognize that stress management has suited me well since August 2010. This is when I entered the world of social service nonprofits, full-time. Since then, stress management has allowed me to work in pressurized positions with constant deadlines, big fundraising goals, extended periods of uncertainty, and uncertain people.
Right now, I’m still wading in my (mostly) lazy days. But not because I need to. Because I can. I’m not working yet, so I’m enjoying my open schedule and upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. Details about D.C. here. I even feel like working on a new short story!