Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Distractions: Using 'Things' to Cope with Stress

Going a bit further with the last post, I have been acutely aware of the things I have been using to cope with stress... to distract myself from emotional stuff. My distractions are

Procrastination and Guilt
the Internet

This is nothing new. I have written about all of this stuff before, and have dealt with it all before. I've faced each of these issues head on and each time, as I stopped using 'things' to distract, I was able to conquer the bad habits... for awhile. I got to a point where I was experiencing and not avoiding... not using food or diet, clutter or procrastination or the Internet in unhealthy, unhelpful ways. But over the last two years, I have slipped back into some really bad habits. I am just now realizing it, because rather than having one *huge* issue, I have many little ones... so they aren't as easily noticed individually.

Instead of a full-blown binge eating disorder, I eat a cookie to soothe.
Instead of being hyperfocused on every detail of my diet, sticking to it obsessively, I just sort of dabble in it here and there.
Rather than having several rooms full of decades of 'stuff' I don't need, I have one counter in the dining room piled with papers and one side of my bedroom littered with boxes of things I will sort through 'some day.'
Instead of putting things off for months until they become a problem, I put them off for 2 weeks and then scramble to do it all in a day or two.
And rather than spending hour after hour sitting online, surfing, reading, chatting, I sit for an hour here, an hour there, as an escape.

So instead of having a "My 600 Pound Life" type of binge problem or a "Hoarders" style clutter problem, I have just a touch of several different things. Nothing's unmanageable, so it doesn't seem like any one thing is a real problem. But if you add it all up, that's a heck of a lot of avoidance and distraction.

Why? I wish I could say. Some time ago I stopped blogging personal details about my family out of respect for their privacy. But there's a huge amount of stress in my life at the moment, emotionally draining, with hours in the ER and time spent in an ambulance (not for me, I am fine) and getting about 2 hours of sleep many nights. Then you add on the little things like my 15 year old cat's vet trip and ongoing care, my dog's bleeding face, the foot pain, and all the usual stuff everyone has to deal with like laundry and cleaning and yard work, school and volunteering and kids... and I have really been slipping back into those distractions a lot. They are a brief release from reality, a momentary forgetting of difficult thoughts and feelings and pressure.

Awareness is the first step. Consciously choosing alternate, healthier diversions when needed is the second. And facing and dealing with reality rather than avoiding it is the third. I am aware, I am working it out, and I hope and believe I can get to the other side again where coping is more natural and easier.


Michelle Himes said...

Hahaha!!! Food, dieting, clutter, procrastination, guilt and the internet. You just described my life.

LHA said...

Lyn, frankly I think it is a miracle that you have not returned to full out binge eating. Even though you are not disclosing full details of the stress you are under, it sounds like it is a considerable load for anyone to carry. It sounds as though you are alone in handling most or all of it and that is a very hard road. I do not have any suggestions at all for breaking the cycle you are in, but I do wish you luck. The issues you describe probably describe issues that many of us are facing too. I hope your introspection helps in figuring out how to move forward. We are rooting for you!

Mary McNamara said...

Hi Lyn,
I've been reading your blog for a really long time now, but have never commented. I can't say that I have any real words of wisdom for you, but I felt compelled to send a quick hello your way . You have been a huge motivation for me - you really have no idea how much your honesty has helped me - particularly regarding your weight struggles.
I guess I wanted to reach out because you seem to be in a bit of a dark place at the moment. I'm sorry to hear that things are so overwhelming for you right now. I really do believe that it will get better. Please try to keep your chin up. So many people are rooting for you!! You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Take care,

Lyn said...

Thanks all. It has been a rough 2 weeks but I am hoping we are past the worst of it. Who knows though, right? So I have to work on this whether I am stressed or not.

Michelle Himes said...

Lyn, I didn't mean to make light of your situation. It's just that your list really does sound like you are describing my life. And I'm not under any stress, just have a truckload of bad habits that are hard to break. I will pray that things get better for you - that the stressful situations get resolved favorably, that you can get back on track and stay there. Hang in there.

Lyn said...


I didn't take it that way. Sometimes we have to laugh at things :) It's good to know I'm not alone. We'll both figure it out.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, my life is a mess right now and I've fallen back into the eating in a terrible way. I've faced disaster after disaster after disaster in my life these past few months. I too have been frequenting ERs and ambulances with family members. The regular everyday stress of laundry, dinners, kids taking baths all becomes too too much when there is so much external stress. I hear you. I'm with you. You, however, are handling this is more grace and calm than I am. You have insight too which amazes me. I'm just floating anchorless and lost. Someday I know I'll come to ground again. I just hope it's soon. Reading your struggle makes me sorry you have to deal with this, but it makes me feel connected because I know you understand where I am because I understand where you are. Bless you. Keep blogging if you can. The rest of us need your voice.

Lyn said...


can you send me an email? I can't find yours. {{Hugs}}

JM said...

I have found 12 step programs soooo helpful. Any of them work for me!! I love the sharing portion of the meeting, I get inspiration and hope.

Phoenix said...

You're such a strong woman, Lyn! I salute your spirit.