I woke up very early this chilly morning hearing a bird sing in the stillness. It was dark and peaceful and the hum of the heating system, the warmth of the heated bed, and the weight of Shiva sleeping on my chest made it difficult to climb out of bed, so I lingered just a bit.
As my mind gained the clarity of wakefulness, I felt the tingle of nausea from the effects of the anxiety that has gripped me all week. Okay…all semester. Breathe, I told myself- my battle cry. Here at the end of the semester there has been so much tension swirling around; students are exhausted and anxious about upcoming juries and exams and professors are feeling the same. We are all on our last nerve, and it often seems that everyone comes to me to vent. I always want to be there for my students and colleagues, but as such an empath, I soak it all up like a sponge, leaving me emotionally tapped out…the holiday break will be medicinal for us all as it always is.
With my new and impending responsibilities, I have got to find a way not to internalize the stress-or to take it personally when people are upset, usually at a situation and not at me- no matter how much it feels that way. Life will always be stressful, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it keeps us on our toes and our mind working to find solutions. It’s all about balance, right?
This week has been particularly challenging in that way, from difficult phone conversations (I truly dislike talking on the phone to strangers, especially those who are upset), tense meetings, tearful students, stressed-out colleagues, and an impending solo performance of a piece that is stretching me way beyond my comfort zone. Comfort zone…that’s just it, isn’t it? The stress is a marker that we’ve breached a comfort zone. But…that comfort zone border is also the border we have to cross to grow.
For me this is a case of mind over matter, and yes, some good self-care. This teacher needs to heed her own words that she always shares with stressed-out students; breathe, get rest, take things one at a time, “do the best you can do- that’s all anyone expects of you,” “it’s not about perfection- it’s about growth”…I can hear myself saying these things to encourage others daily.
It’s time to listen to my own words and encourage myself sometimes, too. One thing at a time. Breathe.