Life

On birthdays, friends and family

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Today is one of my favourite days of the year. My birthday. Which normally makes me feel sad, but lately I’ve come across a new found sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that make me actually happy to be getting older (to be honest, I would not mind staying in my 30s forever, like in a look, but then again I might be saying the same when I’m in my 40s…)

All in all, life is good. But it’s hard. Not real-problems-hard (this is a category saved for the only issues one really needs to worry about like health or serious financial problems that can impact the wellbeing of one’s family), but I’m-too-stressed-to-think-straight hard. Or stress-makes-me-cry-every-night hard. I was in that place a few weeks back due to a few work-related mishaps that were not really mishaps but I was so stressed they might turn into mishaps that I couldn’t stop thinking about them for almost a month. It was the first time I saw myself like that and I was shocked mostly because I thought I would never be the person who loses their sleep over work. Again, I don’t think anyone should lose their sleep over work. Except for surgeons or lawyers/judges involved in death row/life sentence cases. Because in everyone else’s case, NOONE dies. Noone will get hurt or even fired if I don’t do my job well (except for…me). This is something I had to repeat to myself like a mantra in order to be able to keep things in perspective. In the end, I did my job well and delivered the desired results. But the process left me in shambles.

So, as today I’m getting older (and presumably wiser), I’m looking at what kept me sane during this difficult period (and promise to try to amplify it from now on): it was hands down my friends and family. There is nothing else in this life that will save us from the worst version of ourselves than friends and family. My partner’s support during these difficult weeks was beyond anything I could ever imagine or hope for.  My mom’s tough love made me remember that at the end of the day I’m first and foremost me, not a lawyer, not an employee or a colleague, but me, a human being with needs and sensitivities, a good person who is trying to do their best. And this should be enough to not go crazy over work stuff. I was able to open up my heart to my friends and they filled it with warmth and love and their stories of anxiety for ridiculous reasons or work-related stress that never made them better or more productive.

I’m a very sensitive person and a pessimist by nature. I’m one of these people that think that life before was definitely better than life right now – easier, fuller, more fun. I complain a lot about many different things.I miss a lot of people who are not in my life any more. (Like really miss them. Like feeling a twinge in my chest sometimes when I think about them or see a picture of them. Like this morning. I hate Facebook’s memory lane. It’s the worst.) I tend to linger and get stuck in the past (I’m a caner anyway, what did you expect???).

BUT

I have a great family. I have friends who care for me. My partner is my friend and my family. And I couldn’t be more thankful. I’m looking at this new year in my life starting today and I couldn’t feel more mature and ready to face life and take it as it comes!!!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Life

How to stop stressing out about work

I was recently thinking about the stress caused by our work situation, something totally uncool and non-worthlivinit, but something I see all my friends trying to cope with on a daily basis.

It can be that work is too much or that work is not enough, or that there is no work at all. That the clients are too demanding, the boss totally unhelpful and the colleagues trying to step over your dead body. Deadlines, performance reviews, presentations to the board, salary cuts. All these paint a very bleak picture of how today’s working youth is looking at its work life.

I don’t think my parents ever experienced the kind of stress I and my peers live through every day. Of course there was no global crisis tormenting the economy and Greece was going through its golden age of modern times, but I think it wasn’t just that. It was also a different mentality. Of course they wanted me to want to have a job and be happy with my job and have a job that pays the bills (but doesn’t necessarily make you rich), an important job (so I can use all my skills, diplomas, foreign languages etc) and most of all a job that I enjoy and don’t lose my sleep over. I don’t believe my mom was ever stressed about her job to the extent she snapped out at my dad or had nightmares for three nights in a row. I, on the other hand, have been THAT stressed (I’m actually going through such a period right now, that’s how I thought of writing this post). I never remembered my dad complaining of stress (my dad is a lawyer, a job I find super stressful because other people’s well-being depends on you-even if that well-being is get out of paying a parking ticket). I, on the other hand, complain ALL THE TIME, when I’m stressed at work. I show signs of depression, I refuse to get out of bed in the morning, my tasks look like an endless list of challenges and I feel I’m drowning.

NOT COOL AT ALL.

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So I’ve developed a few tricks over the years to try and calm myself down whenever I’m going through a phase like this:

1. Put things into perspective: There are so many things in this life that are pure SH*T. Like war, illness, death and loss. None of these are caused by not performing well at work though (unless you’re Obama). Things will get harder in life. If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family, then things are about to get worse in some years from now. I know it sounds morbid and totally bleak, but that’s how it is: you’re bound to feel great pain from the loss or suffering of people close to you. And this is just one of the things that might go wrong. So stop it. Stop delving into stress without any particular reason, other than “my project is crap”. Stop feeling like work is the only thing that validates you and that it is worth losing your sleep over it. Stop thinking that your PowerPoint presentation will make it or break it for you. Instead, think of all the great things that make your life #worthlivinit, of the people you love and of all the great things you have achieved so far. Every time I was stressed before an exam, a test, a difficult day at work, a big presentation etc. I would always complain to my mom: “Mom, I just want tomorrow/next week/next month to be over.” It will”, she would answer, “it most definitely will. 30 years (i.e. my age) have gone by and they have been good. Don’t you think another day/week/month will go by as well?” I always found this phrase so wise and liberating and I always have it in mind every time a challenge shows its face at work.

2. Share your troubles: Talk, take it out, don’t feel you’re burdening people, you’re not. To the contrary, you’re actually opening your heart and mind to them, which is therapeutic for several reasons: It helps you take the burden off your chest, it helps you realize how ridiculous it might (or might not) sound and get a perspective that you probably hadn’t thought about before. If nothing else, it helps you get out of the house, have a drink and catch up with a friend you hadn’t seen in a while.

3. Meditate: Don’t roll your eyes and stay with me for a second here. It is extremely difficult to start meditating if you’ve never done it before, and I have first hand experience with this because after several months, I’m still trying! The 20 minutes per day that most people advise are a far away dream for me, however, even starting with 4-5 minutes will make a huge difference. I first thought about meditating to make myself sleep at night as I often find myself looking at the ceiling 2 hours after I laid in bed. You can find many tips online as to how to meditate, but I got my first cues from Arianna Huffington’s Thrive.

4. Get help: If you feel that the stress is getting worse and worse every day and that none of the usual tricks will do it for you, ask for help. Professional help. Go online and search the name of a good helpline that works on the issues that worry you. Call them. It’s a great first step in your path to feel better.

Life

The stress

I’ve already talked to you about the big decision taken earlier this year to move in with my other (better) half. It was something that made perfect sense at that moment, I was super excited about this new chapter in my life (it’ll be the first time ever that I’ll be sharing my home with my lover) and I could hardly wait for the day to come for him to move in and make our relationship even more #worthlivinit!

BUT.

There is a BIG BUT. What I hadn’t though about was the stress. All the stress stemming from having someone move in, give them space (both literally and metaphorically), adapt to their daily schedule, make arrangements to accommodate their lifestyle as well etc.etc. And I know that these things might seem evident to many people, but they’re not. At least to me. I’m only of these horrible characters that if I could have a relationship with my clone, I would 🙂 (I’m kidding) (I’m actually NOT kidding, it’s perfectly true).

And for better or for worse, the boy we’re talking about is not my clone. He’s actually pretty different than me in many ways. We do share the same values, but the way we think we should strive towards fulfilling them differs. And sometimes we get lost in trying to explain our point of view to each other. And this is I find is a crucial point in the relationship, the moment that I either say “Oh my god, I can’t have this talk again, let me be, go away”, or the time that I actually think “Hmmm, this sounds right, maybe the guy has a point”. And I’m trying to do more and more of the latter, which I find to be a big sign of growing up.

Another stressful factor is my fear of being “domesticated”. When we started dating I was feeling I would like to spoil him more and more. Cook a bit for him (I never cook, he excellent in the kitchen), offer him things that would make his everyday routine a bit more enjoyable etc. And then I reached a point when I was asking him every afternoon “what would you like for dinner?”. If he took more than 30 seconds to respond I got frustrated, because I had to wait in front of the meat counter in the super market. If he didn’t like what I was proposing for dinner, I would get frustrated that he was too picky. I felt I was inadequate as a partner, but then again I didn’t want to turn into this girl that designs her day around house chores.

These are only a few of the things that have caused me stress in the past few weeks. And I’m really trying to work past them, because they’re stupid and hurtful. But also valid in a way, so rationalizing my fears is the way to go for me now!