How does your body respond to stress? Mine will be ‘eating’ as I find it very comforting. But for the sake of it, let’s make this post ✨professional✨ by sharing a work-related stress story.
I tend to have this ‘toxic’ trait where my way of combating stress is by adding more ‘stress’. Q4 was and will always be the most hectic working period, I know many of you will agree. I was swamped with work while at the same time also still juggling with situation at home, my son’s hybrid school schedule (2 days offline, 3 days online) and house chores (we decided to stop hire a part-time housekeeper as the second wave of Covid hit last July). So there’s only me, my husband, and my toddler. The stress level skyrocketed, and I needed a safe space to ‘escape’.
That’s when I ended up enrolling myself into some online professional certificate programs. The four weeks subjects, quizzes, and deadlines surely gave me additional pressure and adrenaline. But also joy and satisfaction as I gained new knowledge and hone my skills.
It’s a new thing for me. I know I’m always a visual (spatial) and verbal (linguistic) learner, but during the pandemic, I guess I’ve evolved into an aural (audio) learner as well. I started to enjoy podcast and audiobook a lot, maybe partly because I still can do other thing including my work while listening to it. I remember I chuckled on Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapien audiobook, the ‘Gossip’ part, while I was stirring my boiling pot.
Fast forward to few months later, I find myself in a similar situation. The ‘stress’ I’m currently facing is no longer a mountain of rocks I’ve to carry, but a mere long and boring wood log.
Also known as a creative block.
The feeling is familiar, almost like a pattern or a cycle, where every few years of long driving, I hit a dead end.
Can I turn back? Should I leave the car and started walking to find another way? Do I crave for more or this is it?
Knowing how I can be overthinking sometimes (Gemini, *shrug*), I’ll let my body ‘hijack’ me one more time by doing something she’s best at combating stress: adding more (beneficial) ‘stress’.
At the time I’m writing this post, I have finished another online course. This time I even chose subject that is outside my typical choice: business. But it turns out I’m still craving for something familiar, a sense of security I can hold on to. That’s when I decided to take an offer to be involved in a project with ruangrupa, a Jakarta-based artist collective. It’s been years since my last project with them. I used to manage their video/media arts division (OK. Video) for several years. They are currently preparing for Documenta fifteen, a 100 days exhibition of contemporary art which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany.
I am currently involved as an editor for one of their publications. It feels refreshing because I am back to my element. I get to read a lot and make sense of it before making a meticulous edit. It’s an ongoing project I have yet to finished.
Here I am again with my newly added ‘stress’. I have to work over-hours because this project can only start after my official working hour ended. So I have a new deadline to finish, less time to sleep, more expectations to meet, but also a joy from reading all this amazing writings from the writers/researchers and high caliber contributors (one of them is a female professor at the Faculty of Cultural Sciences whom I adore for so long!).
For now I’ll just let my ‘toxic trait’ into action. This is the only way I know to productively combating stress; to make use of a ‘long and boring wood log’. Who knows I might make a beautiful sculpture out of it, instead of just dragging it in an agonizingly long and straight line.
P.S. This is my personal way of combating stress and I am not advertising it for anyone else. Our body can give different reaction when exposed to stress. If you are struggling with stress, I suggest you to seek help. The symptoms may be physical or emotional and can include chain of negative reactions that can be harmful to yourself. Several sources I find useful for coping with stress: CDC, NHS, Mentalhealth.org.uk, and Mind.