I’m currently sitting in my study cocooned by blankets and pillows, feeling anxious. I feel like I’ve mentally stumbled over everything today. I’ve tried too hard and held on too tight, crushing everything to which I’ve put my attention.
I can feel it has crept up on me over the last week or so. And I know why. This happens when I haven’t had something to distract my mind…I haven’t DIY’d in weeks!
It wasn’t that long ago but I have a bad habit of doing DIY projects in sharp bursts with long gaps in between. And the results aren’t pleasant.
I get anxious.
I start focusing on things that don’t matter, I over think and try to micromanage everything and everyone.
I’m naturally someone who will take things seriously. Even a frivolous activity like my work scavenger hunt during a team day last year, I was all in. If I was going to play, I would play to win! I would strategise, move quickly, and do WHATEVER I needed to get gold.
This level of intensity can get out of control when I don’t have something else to offset that laser focus. When left unchecked, I get anxious and overwhelmed.
DIY distracts me from caring too much about things happening at work or in my personal relationships. It gives me something else to focus my over-analytical brain.
It’s like when you’re looking for love, other people are turned off by your desperation, but when you’re in a relationship it seems so much easier to attract people. The relationship distracts you from getting too keen and trying too hard.
I can’t sleep.
Spending 8 straight hours on my feet painting my stencil feature wall ensured I went to bed that night falling straight to sleep. No energy to be distracted by Snapchat stories or replaying in my mind that awkward conversation I had with Stella at work (I sounded like an idiot).
Without this, I’m left to occupy my evenings watching YouTube videos. Activity that will dull my senses but doesn’t physically tire my body out enough to feel like it’s earned a good night’s sleep.
I feel helpless.
Most things in my life are out of my control; but this isn’t news to anyone. DIY gives me a sense of agency over my world and confidence to keep going.
Hammering in nail heads into my upholstered headboard was long and tedious work but it was satisfying putting my energy towards something that had a clear outcome.
I knew what I was getting into. I knew what the end looked like. And that result was GUARANTEED as long as I kept working. It has been so much easier to handle day-to-day challenges at work, with the people in it or situations I encounter, when I have some semblance of stability to hold onto with DIY.
Sanity through ritual.
My sister makes art. My brother creates music. My mum rearranges the furniture in her house. My dad experiments (with everything).
I’ve realised I need DIY projects to keep me grounded. Without it I feel like a useless human who wants to curl into a ball and not take part in life. With it I have the mental perspective to step back, let go, and not take anything too seriously.
Now I know the problem, I need to address it carefully.
I haven’t gotten my hands dirty with DIY in a couple of weeks, so if I jump into a big new project I’ll probably be disheartened by how hard it is and give up – losing the benefit of the process, which is where my sanity lies.
So baby steps it is. I’ll start with:
- Researching how I’m going to replace the (dead) plants on my balcony.
- Filling my picture frames with personal photos.
- Hanging the new art deco mirror I recently bought on eBay for my guest room.
What do you do to keep sane?
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