Dealing with Mental Exhaustion

and breathe
Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

Over the previous two weeks, my day job has been eating my brain. During this time, our leader was out for medical reasons — and so, faced with an an oppressive and immovable deadline, I was working 10-11 hours days in order to complete a total of nine articles (each 3,000 words or more) over the course of eight days, as well as keeping the website updated with new articles. This was in addition to two hours of daily commute.

The exhaustion during this time was intense. I could measure how tired my brain was by the level of pressure inside my skull. I started developing headaches and back pain. I had trouble concentrating. My emotions were chaotic.

One night, I came home so tired that I felt drunk. I was dizzy, couldn’t keep my balance, and when I flopped down onto the bed to sleep, the room began spinning.

I don’t recommend this.

If it had been possible, I would have pushed the deadline back a few days or even a week — a more reasonable timeframe that would have enabled me to work at a pace more conducive to my physical and mental health. Since, that wasn’t an option, I had to find ways to provide self care that would help to keep me going and finish the work.

Here’s how I made it through the stress.

Find a Calming Anchor – On my desk, I a small stone that I collected from a beach in Homer, Alaska. In times of stress, I’ll hold this stone in my palm and picture standing on that beach, breathing in and out in rhythm with the waves. It calmed and refocused me for moment before jumping back into the work. An anchor can be anything that resonates with you — an object, a place, or even just breathing itself.

Get Moving – Whether it was just standing up to stretch or taking a walk around the office building, I tried to make sure to move regularly throughout the day. The movement was essential, helping to give my brain a rest and ease some of the back pain I was experiencing.

Use the Brain in Different Ways – Because I was working with words at my day job, it was out of the question for me to come home and read a book — let alone write my own things. However, I did find enjoyment in switching my brain power to other processes, including simple puzzle games, such as Two Dots, and video editing.

You wouldn’t think that the detail orientated aspects of video editing would actually be relaxing — but it was different enough from writing to energize my brain and provide relief. It also had the bonus of feeding my need for a creative outlet.

Sleep – On the night of dizziness, I could not concentrate enough to even zone out watching television. The only solution was to crash into bed and give in to the sleep. When your brain just can’t anymore, sleep is healing.

What methods do you use to help keep you going through mental exhaustion and stressful periods?

(Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash.)


Announcements

I’ve returned to the YouTube life. If you never knew that I once made vlogs and shared them publicly, that’s fine. Not many people watched them, and itt was around seven years ago since I made the last one.

I’ve missed it though, and I’ve never stopped thinking of new video ideas. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment or technology or time, I decided to just go for it and jump back in. So, I made a video discussing my ten favorite things from 2019 — books movies, games, travel, writing stuff, and more. This is acts as a companion to My Ten Favorite Fiction Reads and My Ten Favorite Poetry Books.


Book of the Month

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite was my favorite read of the month. Set in Nigeria, the story focuses on two sisters — one is who alluringly beautiful and has a tendency to kill her boyfriends, and the other who is a nurse and is often left with cleaning up the mess. At the heart of this novel and what makes it so compelling — is how it addresses the complexities of sisterhood, with its blend of frustration, jealousy, anger, compassion, and love. Sisters, I just want you to know, I’d help you clean up your messes, too.

Check out the rest of my Culture Consumption for the month of January, with all the books, movies, TV, games, and podcasts that I’ve enjoyed.


More Good Stuff

It’s Women in Horror Month, so here’s a guide to literary women in horror. It’s fantastic list of books, which increases my TBR exponentially.

Kevin Dickinson discusses the value of owning more books than you can read.

“What does it mean that a whole style of writing is going out of style?” asks Holly Lynn Walwrath on the loss of cursive.

Maggie Smith keeps moving, writing powerful daily thoughts of optimism and hope, even when faced with loss. For example, “Do not be stilled by anger or grief. Burn them both and use that fuel to keep moving. Look up at the clouds and tip your head way back so the roofs of the houses disappear. Keep moving.”

Good Things in Poetry and Fiction

I have news! Things that have been happening! And so forth!

Thing the First: This week Corvid Queen (a literary journal published by Sword & Kettle Press) announced their nominations for the Pushcart Prize. I am so incredibly chuffed that they choose to nominate my short story “How Bluebeard Ends” along with five other amazing works. “How Bluebeard Ends” is a story that went through a number of rejections before it found a welcoming home at Corvid Queen. I’m honored that the editors liked it enough to nominate it.

Thing the Second: The Fall 2019 issue of Star*Line is out, and I’m happy to report that it contains my poem “Bride of Frankenstein: Our Lady of Rage,” which they have also shared online. To get the full serving of great poetry, however, be sure to order the print copy.

Thing the Third: I do have more cool news, but I can’t quite talk about it yet — so instead, I’ll tell you about my newsletter, through which you can make sure you’re fully informed about this future announcement, as well as getting my thoughts on writing and life. The news is that I have decided to switch my newsletter over to Substack, which provides many more tools for community building — such as the ability for readers to like, comment, or share posts. It also includes an option to monetize newsletters, but for the time being I’m sticking with things being free as they’ve always been.


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Learning to Grow, So You May Reap

Photo by Saira on Unsplash.

California has a tendency to fool me this time of year — days swinging into cooler temperatures one week and then quickly rebounding into heat. Summer clings, refuses to let go. Leaves rarely yellow or brown in the expected colors of the season. The Fall never really feels like Fall.

And yet, October is my favorite month. The advent of Halloween carries with it the whispering of spirits, the trickery of fae folk, the glowing of jack-o-lanterns, the dancing of skeletons. It’s a powerful time, a witchy time.

The days are dimming, growing shorter. The nights are darker.

This can be comforting. Darkness and shadow can be a fertile space for transformation — bulbs and seeds lie hidden within the earth, gestating, awaiting their moment to burst forth and bloom.

I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m feeling a desire to draw in, close off outside influences, and wrap myself in the comfort of hearth and home. I long for rich, warm foods, good books, and quiet.

What I’m desiring is not only an external drawing in, but an internal one. As I settle into what comforts me, I’m wondering what lies within the shadowy places within myself. What have I kept hidden? What fruits can I reap from this year’s work? What do I want to plant anew? What do I wish to nurture and grow?

What about you?

Note: This was first published in A Seed to Hatch, my (semi)-monthly newsletter on the writing life and things that are interesting to writers. If you enjoyed reading this, please check out the archives and/or subscribe:

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