Personal Writings

My Personal Guide to Chaos

It’s been a little too long since I last posted, but I think I have a good excuse. Or at least, multiple mediocre excuses that can add up to something good.

You see, I’ve been dealing with chaos. Total and complete upheaval, plans flying around in the air, knocking into each other, and I have had no idea whether I was heading to Oz or a massive concussion.

Right now, though, I think the tornado is settling down. I have a bit of an idea of what kind of shape my summer is going to take, and I’m looking forwards to colouring it in.

To give a brief summary of what’s been going on – I moved cities with essentially four days of notice. For the preceding 2 weeks I knew that something drastic would be happening, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Hence, chaos.

But I can now say officially that I’ve moved to Toronto – at least for the summer. I am undergoing special therapy treatments, and am looking to build a life here.

Now that the winds seem to have calmed a bit – after carrying me a couple hundred kilometres away – I’m finally getting the chance to reflect on what exactly happened these past couple of weeks. To try to figure out how I got through it with only one very brief spell of tears.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I did everything wrong. I broke so many rules of stress management that I’d expect to be found rocking, inconsolable, in a corner.

But that’s not what happened. I was really quite okay. I rarely felt too overwhelmed, and when I started to I was able to extricate myself from the quicksand of stress.

Honestly, I flew through the tornado like Mary Poppins – unconventionally, but oh so competently, and so I figured I’d share my totally unreliable guide to navigating a world turned upside down with you, in the very unlikely case that it might be helpful.

So here goes, in no particular order, a control freak’s guide to chaos.

1. Increase your responsibility

I know. Everything’s too much, and you don’t even know where you’ll be sleeping the tomorrow night, or next week, but making life even more complicated is super helpful. I, for example, got a dog. And while that certainly added a complicated and stressful factor to me trying to figure out my life, it was by far the BEST distraction. How can I even think about tomorrow when my dog needs to be let outside right now, and then fed, and then trained, and then given the right amount of time to sleep, and why is he so itchy, do we need to go to the vet? Having something else to focus on, that you have no choice but to focus on, can stop your mind from spinning too far away from yourself. It brings you back to concrete, minute by minute concerns and needs which can give you sense of control. In my case, I also ended up with an adorable ball of fur that I could hug to reduce my anxiety, and an attraction that made the prospect of visiting me exciting – an added bonus. Which leads me to my next rule…

2. Over schedule yourself:

You’re barely sleeping because there’s so much going on, you’re either barely eating or over eating, and you keep laughing in a scary way when anyone politely asks ‘how are you?’, but I promise, getting even busier is a good idea. It ties in with the rule of responsibility – focusing on things other than uncertainty is good. The reality is, if things are chaotic it’s usually because they are outside out your control. The stress comes when you feel helpless, because there really isn’t much that you can do. So keep yourself busy, whether it be with new projects or seeing lots of people. Seeing lots of people can be especially helpful, because it can also lead to the next rule…

3. Talk about your problems

Yeah, okay, nobody likes a whiner. But there’s a way to bring someone up to date with what’s going on without making things too uncomfortable. Or at least, I hope there is. Otherwise I’ve been terrible company these past couple of weeks. The thing is, sometimes when you talk to people they can bring a fresh perspective to what’s going on. They can also help. I can’t tell you how amazed I’ve been these past few weeks at how much help I’ve received – and all I had to do was ask! It’s been such a game-changer. Also, when you can be open with your friends/family about your own struggles, they might be open about their own. Because trust me, they’re struggling with something too. And when you know what it is you can try to help them, in whatever capacity they need, and that’s basically friendship summed up and it’s awesome and one of the best ingredients when dealing with life.

Finally, I guess when all else fails, I’d recommend you temporarily pull an Elsa and just let it go. I’m not talking about the healthy, being able to brush things off approach. I’m talking about the full on, run into a frozen wasteland completely isolated to avoid not only your problems, but everything else.

Of course, that’s not a good long-term solution. I would only advocate that tactic temporarily and in cases of extreme emergency, but spending a couple of hours not interacting with anyone and taking a stand by refusing to do basic tasks like laundry or cooking, or even brushing your teeth can occasionally be just what you need. As long as you have your very own inner Ana to pull you back, refreshed, to the real world before you get too carried away.

Looking back, this guide is pretty terrible. I’m sorry about that. But the thing is, it worked for me. It worked really well, and was exactly what I needed to do.

So to all of you going through your own tornados, whether you’re searching for a job, waiting to hear from school programs, apartment hunting, or dealing with anything else overwhelming and stressful – just remember, there really isn’t a right way. If chocolate helps, please indulge. If distraction helps, pick some TV shows and binge away. If planning helps, don’t feel guilty for drawing up plans for multiple scenarios.

Just keep holding tight to your umbrella.

You might end up in Oz.

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