There was an interesting back and forth on SHU's blog yesterday about whether or not spending time on blogs/internetting (apparently this is not a word?) is an OK coping mechanism. I've been working on reducing my on-line time wasting for years now, so obviously I think its a problem. I kind of figured everyone would agree. Surprisingly, the dissent came from my therapist!
I mentioned that one of the ways I deal with my anxiety is zoning out on blogs or internet sites like Facebook or that-which-won't-be-named. And that I wanted to work on better coping mechanisms. Her response was: "But what's so bad about that?". I was sort of surprised by that answer until I thought about it. She deals with people with all sorts of mental health issues---that come with maladaptive and dangerous coping mechanisms like substance abuse, eating disorders or self-harming. Spending 30 minutes on GOMI (OK, I named it) trying to make myself feel better by comparing my life to vapid food bloggers doesn't really rate as unhealthy in that world.
But that doesn't really mean its good FOR ME. I don't have a ton of free time these days. There are lots of things I'd like to do with my time, some of which may actually do more to actually HELP my anxiety, rather than just cover it up for a while. I've been wanting to try meditation for over a year, but haven't "gotten around to it" (its not a priority). I want to harvest and dry the herbs from my garden, hunt for new recipes, write more here, plan some date nights, clear out my closets...hell, if I don't have the energy to do productive stuff, there are many books I want to read and TV shows I want to watch!
And that's just in the evenings. There are also those days when something or the other gets in my head and I get a bit worked up and I need to take the edge off and I waste 20-30 minutes of my precious work day faffing around on sites I don't even enjoy. I have planned breaks that I use to write here, and comment on your blogs, but some days, I go above that allotted time and scroll Facebook yet again or see what's new in the forums. Even when I can't do the deep thinking work because I'm too tired or stressed, there are literally hundreds of tasks I could cross of my list that would actually make me feel energized and positive rather than more stressed and down on myself.
I've decided that there are indeed certain situations---where I'm stuck somewhere with nothing else to do, and feeling stressed and anxious and not wanting to lash out at anyone or say something I'll regret (some moments at my MIL's house come to mind!) that scrolling through FB or reading something stupid for 10-15 minutes will calm me down enough to move on. It IS a better coping mechanism than yelling at my husband or drinking too much (things I may have done on occasion...). But for everyday life, I need to give it up (yet again, seriously, how many times do I have to try before it sticks? I was doing so well for a while this winter! I guess its like anything else, just keep swimming). I did manage to completely give up playing any kind of games on my phone, and I've never gone back, so I am capable of change!
Oh, and just to add it on here...I'm also trying to cut down on my drinking. That was another thing that's crept up over the past couple of months. During the winter I quit drinking on weekdays and was doing really well with that, but somehow fell back into a nightly glass of wine which sometimes became 2 glasses, and sometimes a third on the weekends. This one is not in any way related to stress, it just was...fun/tasty. And then it became a habit. Like, kids are in bed, pour glass of wine, finish glass, pour a little more. This seems to be another area that I keep trying and failing to change in my life and I'm pretty sure everyone will agree (including my therapist) that this is an unhealthy habit!
So: no more internetting outside of planned breaks and not on time sucking forums of any kind. No alcohol on weeknights unless I'm out with others.
What do you do to relieve stress? How many times do you need to quit something before it sticks?