Subourbon Mom


Big Thoughts
August 5, 2021, 5:33 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Misc. Humor | Tags: , , , ,

I don’t know if y’all can relate, but I miss having big thoughts. Actually, I just miss having any thoughts, really.

I used to spend my free time reading and writing or doing something else creative. These days, it is all I can do to stay awake long enough to read two pages of a book and my blog posts have been as rare as an honest politician. Podcasts and comedy streams have replaced thinking and daydreaming as I cook, clean or drive, and when I watch tv, I’m often playing games on my phone at the same time.

How did this happen?

I blame a lot of it on my phone. The games are addicting. Have you ever played Candy Crush? I mean, c’mon…it’s designed in every way to make you an addict, just like casino slot machines. We never had a chance. The rapid-fire bits of brain candy I can access at any time are also addicting – social media is the worst for that, never mind the Google rabbit hole. I seriously did not need to know where TSA puts all our stuff when they confiscate it, or that babies don’t have kneecaps – thanks Google. That’s an hour of my life I won’t get back.

  

But seriously, the phone is just the tool I use to distract myself.

So why am I so uncomfortable with my own thoughts?

Oh, that’s right – they’re scary and stressful.

Not scary in a “I’m gonna skin a cat and wear it like a hat” way – that requires some strong psych meds and probably a Silence of the Lambs face muzzle.  

My thoughts are scary in the way that all the stressors of everyday life converge into one enormous, swirling black hole that steals every ounce of creative energy. That anxiety black hole also sucks repressed thoughts out of the box in the corner of your brain labeled “Don’t Open This Box….Ever.”  Usually, that box only gets opened when I’m starting a hangover at 2:00am. You know, when all the things you’ve ever said or done get blown out of proportion and you’re pretty sure you’ve offended everybody you’ve ever met.   

Playing Candy Crush keeps that box closed.  (Yes, young’uns, I know Candy Crush is something only middle-aged or older moms still play. Quit judging my escape techniques while you watch make-up and how to make water melon drink tutorials.)

Disclaimer: I’m definitely not any kind of psychologist, and if anyone is really sinking into that black hole of anxiety or depression, please get help.

Speaking for myself, I truly believe hiding from my thoughts is a cycle of bad mental habits combined with a crazy two years and probably some haywire hormones. Breaking some of these mental bad habits is an important first step to feeling better. I’m also learning to break down all those black hole worries into manageable pieces.

Learning to stop and pay attention to one sense at a time helps.  Doing that while being dragged around on my morning walks by two energetic dogs makes that difficult, but mostly I can do it a couple of times throughout the day when I’m feeling stressed. My watch even reminds me to breathe, but only when I’m in the middle of editing a heated email with the restraint Donald Trump’s staffers wished they could use. I do try to breathe afterwards, though.

And finally, thinking about things I’m grateful for before going to sleep puts me in a better frame of mind before my brain goes rummaging around in The Box. It’s harder to dwell on all the bad things when your brain has already decided your life is actually pretty good.   

Am I going to give up my games?  People, I said small steps. Let’s be real. These mental habits took years to cultivate. And frankly, I’m on level 1925, sooooo….I’ll start with taking the games I only play sometimes off my phone. I’m definitely going to try and break the habit of looking at my phone while “watching” TV. If the show can’t hold my interest, maybe it’s time for a book.

I think the same can be said for pretty much any situation – if it makes me want to retreat into my phone, I need to change the situation.

We all have things that we do to manage our worries and keep the stress at bay.  Feel free to share your suggestions and methods in the comments section so others can benefit.

And don’t worry, I’ll get back to bitching and pointing out stupid people/stuff soon…there are only so many habits you can change at one time.


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