I always feel restless and jittery in the days leading up to a (major) event. No matter if it’s a social event, or a workshop, a doctor’s visit or anything else. In June it was my vacation to Austria and my final visit to the office where I worked to return my devices and say goodbye. In July it was a few birthdays and my intra-ocular lens implantation.
It is this mixture of anticipation, adrenalin and (slight) anxiety. I find it much harder to focus on tasks I want to or have to finish up before the event and to plan my days efficiently. My highly sensitive system seems to just want to bounce around all the time and my adrenalin is all over the place. Where I would see coworkers, friends or others (seemingly?) work hard and disciplined in a steady pace to get their shit done before, say, their vacation, I always seemed to feel/be much more distracted and pre-occupied with the event coming up next.
On the one hand I love this feeling, this excitement and energy; it is almost addictive, magical. And I can feel bored or in a rut when there is no major event at all. On the other hand it is a bit unhealthy and undermining, because it keeps me from going to bed on time, getting things done (such as writing blogs…) and general mindful living ;-).
For me, this might lead to worse and/or more frequent headaches, which is what happened in the week before my vacation. Although I don’t and can’t know with any certainty whether this anticipation plays a role in causing the migraines. Sometimes I think it does. Sometimes it may just be the weather, bright lights, hormones or something else or a combination of all of these. And so I went to the office with a migraine pill in my stomach, to finalize the paperwork to end the job that I had to stay home from for months because of migraines. How fitting. Because the headaches wouldn’t let up that week, my anxiety increased: “what if my vacation will be one giant headache?” “Will I be able to hike or did I just buy new hiking boots to only be able to wear them in bed?” (spoiler: woman, did I hike!! It was beautiful :)) And to top it off, some extra stress came up in the form of administrative red tape, the planning of the company doctor’s visit that went wrong and interrail ticket delivery issues.
Every time I have a vacation planned I intend to prepare and pack well on time so that I can go to bed early on the night before I leave and start my vacation well-rested and relaxed. And every time I am way too restless to actually pull this off, so I have to do a lot of things last-minute and I hit my pillow way too late and too awake and start my vacation tired. But excited :).
Sometimes I get annoyed with myself because of this. However, I also know how much I hate planning things far ahead of time. Having my flights or train trips and all accommodation booked well in advance, for example, would cause me stress as well. As with most things, the key is to find the happy medium. Somewhere in between the stress of the loss of freedom and the last-minute stress. In between the boredom of having no major events coming up and the overexcitement of having too many.
Over the years I learned and gathered many techniques to cope with restlessness, stress, and feeling distracted. Meditations, mindfulness, yoga, exercise, creative endeavors (you can read about the latter here). They all work in one way or another and I love them. The joke is that I am really good at all of those when I need them the least: in quiet uneventful times. And all the mindful breathing zen stuff goes out the window when I am restless and stressed out. Because obviously it is much easier to sit down for a peaceful meditation when you are already at peace. Whenever you are restless, however, it is very difficult to not give in to the jitters and to get your butt or feet on a yoga mat. There is an old Zen saying that goes: “you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour”.
Fortunately there is progress :-). The happy medium comes closer. I recognize it better and sooner when I get too restless or stressed and try to snap out of the self-sabotage that happens when I let myself get carried away too much. I allow myself the time to do yoga and/or meditation sessions even when I’m busy (because by now I realize even more how important these things are for my well-being) but also try to not be too hard on myself when I don’t. I make a ‘to-do-list’ and try to plan the tasks realistically and according to their importance, so that my mind is not so full and the restlessness doesn’t make me forget things. And I let go a little sometimes so that I can give in to and enjoy some of the jumping-around excitement and adrenalin as well. Because jumping for joy or sheer excitement is important too :). You can’t deny this energy and it needs to get out.
What do you do in the exciting days before any major event? Are you focused or jittery and do you embrace your feelings or fight yourself over them? Do you get carried away by the stress of anticipation? Where lies your happy medium?
At this moment I strongly sense that my happy medium can be found somewhere in my vegan B&J’s Chunky Monkey ice cream. Time to dig in ;-).