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scalyfreak

Scalyfreak stumbles along, sort of

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Scalyfreak has reluctantly come to the conclusion that it’s impossible to completely defeat Stress Monster. For one, it seems to be multiplying. Like the heads of a particularly vicious hydra, when one Stress Monster is cut down, two others appear to take their place. They soon grow to such a number that it doesn’t matter that they are considerably smaller. Miniatures of the large one, but now it’s a swarm… a swarm that moves as if directed by one single mind, surrounding Scalyfreak, attacking in perfect unison. Taking on a large number of small Stress Monsters turns out to be a lot more difficult than fighting a single large one.

 

They’re like the fricking Borg. Perfect...” Scayfreak mutters to herself, and decides that it is time to stop complicating things. Time to stop over-thinking, time to stop disregarding the very basics of her training, and refocus on what will help her win the battle.

 

Cut. Parry. Thrust. Shield up.

 

Nothing matters but there here and now.

 

Focus.

 

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Work stress levels remain high, but now it’s due to several small things, rather than one huge stress factor. Since it’s unlikely that the minor things will go away without being replaced by other minor things, I’m going to need to figure out how to deal with this. I need to find a way to either not let these things stress me, or find a constructive way to deal with the stress by channeling it into something more constructive than slow-burn anxiety attacks.

 

So this challenge will attempt to go back to the basics of what has worked well for stress management in the past, and build on the Stress Management categories from the last challenge. I have added a few tweaks, and some detail to the happiness part.

 

1.Physical stress management

When I move, particularly when I lift weights and when I get out of the house for walks in the evening or morning, I feel considerably less stressed and the anxiety is much easier to control. I need to get back to going to the gym regularly. “I’m too tired” is not a valid excuse to avoid the gym. I also need to stop eating candy and deep fried items when I feel stressed, since that’s a large part of the reason for my stomach issues that sabotaged my last challenge. (I have enough problems without adding self-inflicted ones.)

 

1a. Go to the gym three days per week. Aim for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. If something comes up, that stops you from going one of those days, plan ahead and around that, so you can go another day and still get the three gym days into the week.

1b. Stop eating like you’re still in college. This is going to be a long-term goal, that begins with me tracking my food, to get an idea of what I’m eating, and also to make me more aware while I eat, maybe even before I put stuff in my mouth. To this end, I will create an account on My Fitness Pal, and start tracking my meals. I will not worry about setting weight loss goals or amounts of calories, or anything else that stressed me out and made me hate food tracking every other time I tried to do it, and did it completely wrong. This time I will start slow, and I will use the tracking to figure out patterns related to indigestion and sleep, instead of fixating on my weight or the number of calories.

 

2. Mental stress management

This is going to be the exact same as the last challenge:

2a. Mediate every day, without fail. This is critical for mental health and for keeping the stress at bay. I will continue to use Insight Timer, since it has a large number of guided meditations of various length as well as a timer for meditating without the guidance.

2b. Get enough sleep. I seriously need to get better at this. I have set my Fitbit to remind me to get to bed by 11:00 every night. Assuming this works, I’ll get between five and six hours of sleep every night (okay, closer to five), which will be an improvement over the past month or so.

 

3.The Happiness Factor

Now that I have a working definition of happiness, it’s time to start working actively to getting myself to that point. A lot of things that are happening in the world make me feel angry, despondent, and helpless to prevent the whole thing from going up in metaphorical flames. This causes stress and hopelessness, which in turn makes the anxiety comes back. This in turn makes me more stressed, and just like that, the vicious cycle is in full swing. The antidote to this hopelessness is to look away from the big picture, and to find day-to-day things make a difference on a smaller scale.

 

3a. Set up a full recycling central at home, so as little as possible goes in the trash. This will require learning about what is recycled in our county, and how, and obtain appropriate containers for all the things that can be recycled. And then figure out how to make it all happen and turn it into a habit.

 

3b. Get a hobby. Or to elaborate a little bit, scrutinize my many interests and pick at least one, at most two, and turn them into actual hobbies. As in, go online and join groups about them, find local face-to-face groups, learn how to get better at them, et cetera.

 

All of the above begins on Monday 22nd. :) 

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I hope it's okay if I follow your challenge. I also have anxiety and I've been struggling with how to deal with world events (mostly climate and politics related) that make me despair. Looking away feels like a cop-out... but how can you stare into it every day without going mad? Ah well, we are taking some steps to cut down our personal contribution to the problem, but any real solution will be structural and collective and therefore out of my hands. I wonder if there's a better way than simply compartmentalising my thoughts about the future.

I'm also interested in hearing about the meditation and how it works out for you – I'm starting for this challenge, but with a very simple 5 minutes of focusing on the breath. I'm sure there are more interesting and effective ways to meditate.  Oh, and since viewing cute baby animals literally enhances your mental/emotional wellbeing, here is a gif(t).

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17 hours ago, scalyfreak said:

 

Cut. Parry. Thrust. Shield up.

 

Nothing matters but there here and now.

 

Focus.

 

 

Truth. ^ lots of truth. 

 

And high five for the BASICS. When the world spins off its hinges in a handbasket, the basics are there to save your ass. 

 

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12 hours ago, Harriet said:

I hope it's okay if I follow your challenge. I also have anxiety and I've been struggling with how to deal with world events (mostly climate and politics related) that make me despair. Looking away feels like a cop-out... but how can you stare into it every day without going mad? Ah well, we are taking some steps to cut down our personal contribution to the problem, but any real solution will be structural and collective and therefore out of my hands.

 

I'm also interested in hearing about the meditation and how it works out for you – I'm starting for this challenge, but with a very simple 5 minutes of focusing on the breath. I'm sure there are more interesting and effective ways to meditate. 

 

I learned meditating from the free Introduction course/trial offered by Headspace. I liked it better than several others I tried, largely because it describes meditation as exercise for the mind, and entirely leaves out the spiritual part of it. It's easier to see mindfulness as a skill you can learn, when your teacher is coming from that perspective as well.

 

And for me, the key to keeping the despair and anxiety at bay is to actively take steps to make a small difference in the world around me.  While remembering that every large movement started that way. :) 

 

5 hours ago, Gemma said:

 

And high five for the BASICS. When the world spins off its hinges in a handbasket, the basics are there to save your ass. 

 

 

They really are. Now, if only I could remember that before the world fully falls off the hinges... :rolleyes:

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Since a part of my challenge involves going to bed, my progress updates will be up to the day before posting. So this is for Monday-Tuesday. :)

 

1.Physical stress management

1a. Go to the gym three days per week. Aim for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Tuesday this week was spent at an event that used up too many hours of my evening and didn't leave me with enough hours to both go to the gym, and get to bed on time. Since I knew I had to be at work at 6:30 AM this morning, I prioritized going to bed early. Instead, gym will happen Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, this week. Progress: 0/12

1b. Stop eating like you’re still in college. This is going to be a long-term goal, that begins with me tracking my food, to get an idea of what I’m eating, and also to make me more aware while I eat, maybe even before I put stuff in my mouth.

I have created an account on MyFitnessPal and started tracking my food Monday morning. I'm taking as relaxed an approach as I can. Last night's dinner was nacho bar, and I didn't even try to track that one. I made the best choices I could on toppings and put it behind me instead. Progress 2/28

 

2. Mental stress management

This is going to be the exact same as the last challenge:

2a. Mediate every day, without fail. This is critical for mental health and for keeping the stress at bay. Progress: 2/28

2b. Get enough sleep. I seriously need to get better at this. I have set my Fitbit to remind me to get to bed by 11:00 every night.

Failed hard on Monday evening, but made up for it by going to bed earlier than usual Tuesday (due nasty early morning at work today). Progress: 1/28

 

3.The Happiness Factor

Now that I have a working definition of happiness, it’s time to start working actively to getting myself to that point.

3a. Set up a full recycling central at home, so as little as possible goes in the trash.

Located the county's recycling program website and started reading about what's available and how to sign up. Printed one of their worksheets that shows what goes in recycling and what goes in the trash, and signed up to have a recycling bin delivered. It will go in the garage next to the trash can.

3b. Get a hobby. Or to elaborate a little bit, scrutinize my many interests and pick at least one, at most two, and turn them into actual hobbies.

Made a mental list of the things I like to do when and gravitate towards when I'm bored. When I have finalized the list I will start to narrow it down to things that "make me happy" and will go from there.

 

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On 10/22/2018 at 12:30 AM, scalyfreak said:

To this end, I will create an account on My Fitness Pal, and start tracking my meals

Feel free to add me on fitnesspal (acct: Farflight). After awhile it becomes a really good habit...I actually feel weird if I don't write down what I eat.

 

Love the challenge. setup! 

 

I'm gonna follow the shit outta this!

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On 10/22/2018 at 9:39 PM, scalyfreak said:

 

I learned meditating from the free Introduction course/trial offered by Headspace. I liked it better than several others I tried, largely because it describes meditation as exercise for the mind, and entirely leaves out the spiritual part of it. It's easier to see mindfulness as a skill you can learn, when your teacher is coming from that perspective as well.

 

 

Groovy, I might give that I try when it's time to take my meditation to the next level. 

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I'll have to wait until tomorrow to post an updated progress report, since it's not bed time yet, but I'm very proud to announce that I did finally drag my lazy behind to the gym this evening. :) 

 

While I neglected them for a couple of weeks, they have installed a machine for assisted chin-ups!! THIS IS SOOOO AWESOME!!!

 

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Now I can learn chin-ups by doing easy ones until I get the form right and then just reduce the weight until they're no longer assisted. This made me happy, so I started right away. Then I hopped on the scales in the women's locker room and subtracted the counterweight from my own weight so I could figure out how much I actually lifted.

 

And since I have never before in my life managed to do three sets of five assisted chin ups while lifting as much as 99 lbs, I'm now in a good mood. :) 

 

 

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Progress as of Wednesday, Week 1.

 

1.Physical stress management

1a. Go to the gym three days per week. Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, this week. Progress this week: 1/3 Progress overall: 1/12

1b. Stop eating like you’re still in college. This is going to be a long-term goal, that begins with me tracking my food, to get an idea of what I’m eating, and also to make me more aware while I eat, maybe even before I put stuff in my mouth. Progress 3/28

 

2. Mental stress management

This is going to be the exact same as the last challenge:

2a. Mediate every day, without fail. This is critical for mental health and for keeping the stress at bay. Progress: 3/28

2b. Get enough sleep. I seriously need to get better at this. I have set my Fitbit to remind me to get to bed by 11:00 every night.

Apparently connecting your FitBit to a charger and then dive head-first into a captivating book, can make you miss your bed time. Ooops. Progress: 1/28

 

3.The Happiness Factor

Now that I have a working definition of happiness, it’s time to start working actively to getting myself to that point.

3a. Set up a full recycling central at home, so as little as possible goes in the trash.

No progress yesterday, since I went to the gym instead.

3b. Get a hobby.

Gradually coming to the conclusion that one of the two interests I will turn into an active hobby will be the D&D thing, since I'm already spending time on that in the evenings, in a PbP campaign.

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19 minutes ago, scalyfreak said:

Go to the gym three days per week. 

Saw your update the other day, GREAT JOB and how was it using the assisted pullup machine? I've just started doing assisted at home. My freaking elbow tendons hurt, wondering if yours did as well?

 

19 minutes ago, scalyfreak said:

charger and then dive head-first into a captivating book, can make you miss your bed time

Do you read in bed? I've tried to maintain a 'sacred' space around my bed in the evenings. That being, the bed is only used for two things...sleep and...well *cough* you know... If I wanna read I read somewhere else. Also, I tend to try and charge my fitbit at least a few hours before bed (using a 2 amp charger I can get at least a half charge during a long shower when I'm not stepping anyway, this is on a charge 2 btw).

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1 hour ago, farflight said:

Saw your update the other day, GREAT JOB and how was it using the assisted pullup machine? I've just started doing assisted at home. My freaking elbow tendons hurt, wondering if yours did as well?

Do a form check. Pullups have just as many cues as any other lift. 

 

1 hour ago, farflight said:

Do you read in bed? I've tried to maintain a 'sacred' space around my bed in the evenings. That being, the bed is only used for two things...sleep and...well *cough* you know... If I wanna read I read somewhere else. Also, I tend to try and charge my fitbit at least a few hours before bed (using a 2 amp charger I can get at least a half charge during a long shower when I'm not stepping anyway, this is on a charge 2 btw).

I've always maintained that the bedroom is for the two S's. Haven't had a tv in our room in almost a decade to help reinforce that.

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3 hours ago, farflight said:

Saw your update the other day, GREAT JOB and how was it using the assisted pullup machine? I've just started doing assisted at home. My freaking elbow tendons hurt, wondering if yours did as well?

 

Not yet. Fingers crossed! I have missed having access to an assisted chin-up machine. For years I felt that doing one of those and squats was a good way to get a full workout done in a short amount of time. Now I will use it to build muscles in my upper back. And then I will buy a top that dips really low in the back and wear it around the house to taunt Husband. That will be fun. :devilish:

 

3 hours ago, farflight said:

Do you read in bed? I've tried to maintain a 'sacred' space around my bed in the evenings. That being, the bed is only used for two things...sleep and...well *cough* you know... If I wanna read I read somewhere else. Also, I tend to try and charge my fitbit at least a few hours before bed (using a 2 amp charger I can get at least a half charge during a long shower when I'm not stepping anyway, this is on a charge 2 btw).

 

I used to read in bed, but I am trying to get away from that. I was reading in the recliner in my Dragon Cave last night, with the FitBit charger connected to the laptop across the room.

 

Reading in bed is one of the habits I'm trying to give up as a part of changing my evening habits, since that interferes with falling asleep.

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1 hour ago, Grumble said:

 

I've always maintained that the bedroom is for the two S's. Haven't had a tv in our room in almost a decade to help reinforce that.

 

Sleeping & Snoring. Yep, I do both.

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6 hours ago, scalyfreak said:

 

Not yet. Fingers crossed! I have missed having access to an assisted chin-up machine. For years I felt that doing one of those and squats was a good way to get a full workout done in a short amount of time. Now I will use it to build muscles in my upper back. And then I will buy a top that dips really low in the back and wear it around the house to taunt Husband. That will be fun. :devilish:

 

 

I used to read in bed, but I am trying to get away from that. I was reading in the recliner in my Dragon Cave last night, with the FitBit charger connected to the laptop across the room.

 

Reading in bed is one of the habits I'm trying to give up as a part of changing my evening habits, since that interferes with falling asleep.

 

Back muscles, yay! They're the only thing that's shown up on me with real definition so far. I love my new upper back dimples. Sometimes I just flex and look at them in the mirror :D 

Sleep is so friggin important. I've had trouble with insomnia all my life, but I've really turned things around over the last 5 or 6 weeks since the last challenge. Now, instead of a few hours of laying half awake and a few hours of sleep, I fall asleep quickly and regularly sleep through the entire night. It's so awesome. I can't believe it, I didn't think it was possible. I hope the same thing happens for you.

 giphy.gif?cid=3640f6095bd24bca4e6c6c3432

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Progress Week 1, Monday-Friday:

 

1.Physical stress management

1a. Go to the gym three days per week. Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, this week. Progress this week: 2/3 Progress overall: 2/12

1b. Stop eating like you’re still in college. This is going to be a long-term goal, that begins with me tracking my food, to get an idea of what I’m eating, and also to make me more aware while I eat, maybe even before I put stuff in my mouth. Preferably while keeping a good attitude towards food tracking. Progress 5/28

 

2. Mental stress management

This is going to be the exact same as the last challenge:

2a. Mediate every day, without fail. This is critical for mental health and for keeping the stress at bay. Progress: 5/28

2b. Get enough sleep. I seriously need to get better at this. I have set my Fitbit to remind me to get to bed by 11:00 every night. Now I need to learn not to ignore it. Progress: 2/28

 

3.The Happiness Factor

Now that I have a working definition of happiness, it’s time to start working actively to getting myself to that point.

3a. Set up a full recycling central at home, so as little as possible goes in the trash.

Apparently the county has signed up for the Heft Energy Bag program . This means plastics that can't go in regular recycling go in the energy bag, which is picked up and sent to a processing plant that turns said plastics into diesel fuel. They have a Facebook group for the city, for tips and tricks and asking questions. So I joined the group, and have signed up to get energy bags as well.

3b. Get a hobby.

Selected the first interest of two: Tabletop RPGs, specifically D&D since that's what I have access to right now. I even managed to find my old dice bag :) 

Tentatively selected second thing: Pick out and price out parts for next PC build

 

Tomorrow afternoon I board a flight for a week-long business trip. This trip would have been the final and most devastating attack of the huge Stress Monster a few challenges ago. Thanks to changed circumstance it's now only an annoyance that causes me to have to do extra laundry so I can pack all my "proper" work outfits.

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On 10/27/2018 at 1:06 PM, scalyfreak said:

This trip would have been the final and most devastating attack of the huge Stress Monster a few challenges ago. Thanks to changed circumstance it's now only an annoyance

this is so awesome! it's hard to see and quantify this type of health progress but here is a clear indicator that you have been helping yourself. well done!

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On 10/27/2018 at 10:06 AM, scalyfreak said:

 

Tomorrow afternoon I board a flight for a week-long business trip. This trip would have been the final and most devastating attack of the huge Stress Monster a few challenges ago. Thanks to changed circumstance it's now only an annoyance 

48 minutes ago, CourtnieMarie said:

this is so awesome! it's hard to see and quantify this type of health progress but here is a clear indicator that you have been helping yourself. well done!

 

Agreed! It doesn't happen often that I look back and see that things have gotten easier. Levelling up in mental health is often slowwww work. But you did it :D

 

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PS. I'm curious about your working definition of happiness. It's something I've read and thought about a fair bit, actually, so I'd like to hear your thoughts on it. 

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19 hours ago, Harriet said:

 

PS. I'm curious about your working definition of happiness. It's something I've read and thought about a fair bit, actually, so I'd like to hear your thoughts on it. 

 

It evolved from a discussion in one of my previous challenges:

Quote

 

Maybe happiness is a bit like physical fitness? Everyone starts from a different situation, with our own unique baseline, and that baseline largely depends on decisions and actions of our past. We can move that baseline by actively doing things that makes us more fit/happy, and if we regularly and consistently keep doing these things, our general daily fitness/happiness level will go up and stay up, and that becomes our new baseline.

 

And just like the muscle gains stop and eventually reverse if we stop lifting, the happiness will stagnate and eventually fade if we stop actively trying to be more happy.

 

 

The discussion that led up to this conclusion is in Chapter 5, linked in my signature.

 

Now, more progress report. Adding Saturday - Monday.

 

1.Physical stress management

1a. Go to the gym three days per week. Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, this week. 

Traveled all of Sunday and prioritized sleep when I eventually arrived at the hotel, since i had to get up at 4:00 AM Monday morning. Made sure toget lifting done Monday evening instead. The hotel fitness center has finally added a rack of dumbbells! Progress this week: 1/3 Progress overall: 3/12

1b. Stop eating like you’re still in college. This is going to be a long-term goal, that begins with me tracking my food, to get an idea of what I’m eating, and also to make me more aware while I eat, maybe even before I put stuff in my mouth.

Tracked over the weekend, but kind of lost track on Monday. Tracking while travelling is hard. Progress 7/28

 

2. Mental stress management

This is going to be the exact same as the last challenge:

2a. Mediate every day, without fail. This is critical for mental health and for keeping the stress at bay. Progress: 8/28

2b. Get enough sleep. I seriously need to get better at this. I have set my Fitbit to remind me to get to bed by 11:00 every night. I have managed to follow this, largely due to being alone in a hotel room with no distractions. Intentionally failed on Saturday, and stayed up to spend time with Husband before going on my business trip. Progress: 3/28

 

3.The Happiness Factor

Now that I have a working definition of happiness, it’s time to start working actively to getting myself to that point.

3a. Set up a full recycling central at home, so as little as possible goes in the trash.

Partially on hold since I am not at home. Am reading in the Facebook group, to educate myself while I'm waiting to get back home.

3b. Get a hobby.

1st choice: Tabletop RPGs, focus D&D 5th Edition. The remote team I'm visiting are having a D&D day at work today. I am ridiculously excited and happy about this. :) 

2nd choice: Build a new gaming PC. Nothing high end, just something reliable that can run my massive backlog for me.

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