Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Since I was a little kid, my go-to anxiety dream involved snakes. In this recurring dream, I would step outside my house to find a yard filled with snakes, and I would have to walk carefully to avoid them. No matter what house I walked out of, the yard itself was inevitably the yard from our home in Collins, Miss., where I went to elementary school.

This was never what I would call a nightmare, since Dream Me would just sort of sigh and start picking her way through snakes, but it always occurred during stressful times.

After Hurricane Katrina flooded my home, my hometown and a boggling number of other places I loved, my subconscious traded snakes for water as an expression of anxiety.

Again, these dreams aren’t nightmares. The problems encountered — usually water rising where it shouldn’t be rising, or me somehow falling into a deep body of water — aren’t so much scary as they are irritating.

During one particularly active dream sequence a couple of weeks ago, I found myself seated at a table that was really part of a boat that plunged over the side of the dock when the driver gunned the engine (I never said my dreams obeyed the laws of mechanics or physics). I swam back up to the dock and climbed into a dockside restaurant, which immediately began to turn sideways since it turned out to be a huge boat that was rolling over. As I kicked my way out of a window into the water, Dream Me really couldn’t believe she had to swim all the way up from the bottom of the ocean AGAIN.

I mean COME ON.

I totally get it. My subconscious gets overwhelmed with anxiety and takes it out on my dreams. It takes what I’m apparently scared of deep down and releases it at 2 a.m.

My everyday way to cope with anxiety is to constantly analyze how to fix problems. I’m on to Plan C before most people even realize that Plan A is done for and Plan B is just ludicrous.

It’s the same in my dreams. Instead of waking up in a cold sweat when the boat plunges beneath the surface of the water, Dream Me is concentrating on swimming horizontally before trying to head up to the surface in case the sinking boat creates a whirlpool (apparently my subconscious thinks it just might, no matter what the Mythbusters say).

Healthy? You’ll have to ask my theoretical psychotherapist. But it makes sense to me that working through dream anxieties rather than simply having them scare you half out of your pajamas has to be pretty good self-therapy.

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The browser tab title of “Organize This!” — a New York Times story — is “Barbara Reich Organizes the Homes of New York’s Elite.” Clearly, this does not apply to me, but some of Reich’s philosophies apply to us all.

Her mantra is, “Stress is clutter, and clutter is stress.” We live in a time of stuff, and it’s simply stifling.

I know I have less stuff than a lot of people, but every time I clear another storage box out of the closet, I feel even lighter.

Clear space equals a clear mind.

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Let’s face it: Thanksgiving is entirely too close to Christmas. It amazes me that people put so much effort into Thanksgiving, flying across the country or driving across the state, only to do it again four weeks later.

Having moved a good eight hours away from my mom and the in-laws, I’ve discovered that I just can’t do it anymore. There will be visits, but they will not necessarily occur on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day — I’ve moved past obsessing over dates. I’ll be just as thankful to have dinner with my family on any random day as I would on the official holidays. Happier, really, seeing as how I will likely have skipped the pre-holiday epic traffic jam that is Birmingham, Alabama.

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Yesterday, I discovered that I can no longer safely wear my wedding rings. Four weeks of stress has led to weight loss, and my fingers are too skinny. I haven’t seen this weight since I had a tonsillectomy at age 20.

Lucky me, I guess, except I hate shopping for clothes and don’t want to get these rings resized.

It’s not that much weight, mind you. Just enough that pants fall a little farther than they should on my hips and the rings slip right off my finger. Not that they’ve ever wanted to stay on my finger. I’m forever finding myself in the car, halfway to a destination, with the realization that the rings are back at home in the knife drawer. My ring finger, apparently, longs to be free of the bonds of matrimony, even if my heart does not.

Now that I’ve gotten used to tiny portions, my body doesn’t want much more. Add to that the fact that I work at home by myself and consider eating more of a social activity than a physical necessity, and you’ll see that I have my work cut out for me.

The journey back to ring-wearing starts today: I’m having lunch with a friend. Tomorrow, perhaps, I’ll work on getting my pants off the ground.

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14-year-old cat requires four medications per day, plus subcutaneous fluids. Husband has a dermatological bandage to be watched and changed. The refrigerator is making a noise reminiscent of angry bees.

I have never felt more grownup, married or inept.

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