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Posts tagged with: juggling life and writing

RUSH

We’re ten days into the Winter Writing Fest and I want to talk about stress. Appropriate? I think so.

Stress affects every level of our lives, including our writing.

I don’t know about you but the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning until sometime in the late evening I’m on the go. The list is endless.  Some days, I feel as if my feet will drop off at the ankles if I stop and propped them up and my mind is mush.  Let’s face it, women are caregivers and being a caregiver is stressful. Add extra duties (ie; taking care of aging parents or a love one, moving to a new house, remodeling) and you’re adding stress.

Recently, I read an article at Women’s Health (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/stress-help ) which stated that some women need to be busy in order to feel alive, and I wondered if I wasn’t one of them.  I mean I always need to be doing something.  Even now, as I write this article, I’m multi-tasking.

Stress can lead to mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, menstrual problems, and acne and other skin problems.  So what can we do to relieve stress?

 

It’s all about attitude.

•There are some things you do not have control over. Don’t worry about them.

• You don’t always have to be right. Pick your fights. It’s not worth the stress to argue. Give in or at least meet people halfway.  Be open.

• Get organized. Write a to-do list. Figure out what’s most important to do and do those things first.

• Set limits. We only have so many hours in the day. Set limits for yourself and don’t be afraid to say NO to requests for your time and energy.

 

Relaxation doesn’t take a lot of time.

• Take deep breaths.  Taking a few deep breaths makes you breathe slower and helps your muscles relax.

• Stretching can also help relax your muscles and make you feel less tense.

• Having someone massage the muscles in the back of your neck and upper back can help you feel less tense.

• Take time to do something you want to do. We all have lots of things that we have to do, but often we don’t take the time to do the things that we really want to do.  You know that priority list above, but your want to do on that list too.

 

You have one body. Take care of it.

• Get enough sleep. Doing so helps you recover from the stresses of the day and helps you think better so that you can handle problems as they come up.

• Eat right. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Caffeine or high-sugar snack jolts, wear off quickly. That is why they’re called jolts. You’ll  wind up feeling more tired than you did before.

• Drink Lots of water.  At least eight glasses a day.

• Get moving. Physical activity will not only help relax your tense muscles but improve your mood.

• Don’t deal with stress in unhealthy ways, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, smoking, or overeating.

 

There is nothing better than a friend.

• Share your stress. Talking with friends or family members can help you feel better. They could help you see your problems in a new way and suggest solutions that you hadn’t thought of.

• Get help from a professional if you need it.

• Help others. Volunteering in your community can help you feel better.

 

Long list, right?  Don’t stress. Pick one, do it, get good at it and then add another. Deep breaths.

2013 was a very stressful year for me, but through the events I’ve learned a lot. One being there will always be stress around waiting to knock me down, but if I’m prepared I’ll handle things much better. So I’m getting organized, making goals and lists to help make those goals, and I’m setting limits!

I’m drinking more water, making sure I eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, smaller portions and limiting the snacks. I’m stretching, walking and dancing. I’ve called a good friend more than once and laughed.

I think laughter should be on the above list. Don’t you?

Now, tell me. What helps you when you feel the world on your shoulders?

Writing When Life Interferes

Seriously. I want to know. How do you sit down at the computer, maintain your focus, and form cohesive sentences when life sucks you in, spins you uncontrollably, and then hurls you to the ground without warning?

When I told my husband I was writing a blog about how to write when life gets in the way, he burst out laughing. “Well, that should be both an easy and short blog for you,” he said. “Because you don’t.”

I just hate it when he’s right.

As career oriented writers, we are expected to write. Come hell or high water our fingers should be flying over the keyboard at any given moment during the day. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but writers are human. And, sometimes, life just gets in the way.

It could be job related, it could be health issues, or it could be family related. The reason doesn’t matter. The important thing is whatever is going on in your life, it’s serious enough to prevent you from either having the time, energy, or frame of mind to sit down and put words on the page.

Several years ago, I experienced the unexpected death of a close family member. My world turned upside down in many ways. Apart from the sudden loss, I went from having an independent mother, who lived over two hours away, to one whose grief and subsequent health issues had her relying heavily on me.

I didn’t quit writing completely, but finding a time when I wasn’t mentally and physically exhausted from my duty as caregiver only added stress and guilt. Yes, guilt. Remember? Career oriented writers are expected to write.  I grabbed a few hours here and a day there, but my concentration was shot. Simply put, I didn’t want to think. Thinking meant coming to certain realizations that I wasn’t ready to face. My life had forever changed.

I began wondering how many other writers had faced similar situations. Were they able to channel their pain into their writing? Were they able to block out their situation and power through to keep their writing routine?

The guilt that I couldn’t produce in the face of life’s challenge loomed over me. I questioned my dedication. I questioned my desire. I questioned my ability. I was driving myself crazy trying to fulfill my family obligations and justify why I wasn’t writing. I was adding stress on top of stress. So, I quit. Writing, that is. I came to the realization that it’s okay to take a writing break. I hadn’t lost my passion or desire, I just had to put it away for a short time.

Should writers give themselves permission to take time off from writing? It that really okay? Some would argue that if you don’t write every day, you lose your momentum. Some argue that powering through a rough time helps keep the emotion in your story. I say it’s up to the writer. She knows her limits. She’s aware of what’s going on in her life. My mother always told my two sisters and me, “Don’t criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

In my situation, it was absolutely the right thing to do. I don’t have any regrets. I was there for my mother when she most needed me. Her health has since improved, she’s moved closer to me, and we’re both healing from our loss. More importantly, every second I spent with my sister instead of writing is a memory I hold precious in my heart. As I said, no regrets.

What about you? Have you had to make some tough choices in your writing due to life’s interference? How did you juggle life and writing?

The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: Kudos. Kate. You followed your path and I’m happy you did!
  • Kate Parker: I’ve heard we regret the things we didn’t do much more than the things we do. I didn’t...
  • Autumn Jordon: Ahh. I’m sure your story is the same as many others, as is mine. I’m glad you went to that...
  • Anne Marie Becker: LOL – well at the time I lived far away from relatives. Only my husband knew I was writing,...
  • Autumn Jordon: If I may ask. How did you keep it hidden that you were going to a conference? Wait. You write RS....

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