When I felt in and out of control

Mon 6 – Sun 12 Dec

My previous blog was all about the funeral of a dear friend and the impact that had on me – it can be read here. Last week was one where at times I felt very in control of things and confident in my own abilities. But then there were other times when I felt totally out of control of things and plagued with self-doubt.

Sad man feels out of control

It’s not possible to be in control of our lives all of the time

We can make various preparations and mitigation – indeed this is right to do. But there will be points where we just feel overwhelmed, hopefully it’s only temporary. And things will come along to totally put our lives out of sync such as has happened with Covid.

Waves

For me, being out of control comes in waves. Inevitably this time of year, there is the pressure to get everything ready for Christmas. But everything has an equal and an opposite; being on the crest of a wave and then feeling like you are drowning. However, control can be taken back through paying attention to certain things and, ironically, taking time out.

Where I didn’t feel in control of things

  • Getting old / health I don’t think I have felt as less in control of my health for a long time. And it’s all related to getting old. The joke is that everything falls apart. Do you know what? It’s bloody true! Had my temporary crown fitted last week as a result of part of my tooth falling out. And my knees continue to be problematic. Meanwhile my skin looks dry, blotchy, and old man-like in places.
  • Weight Looks like this has crept up again. Wonderfully circular in that if I could control my weight then I would feel more in control of my life. But when I don’t feel in control of my life then I also don’t feel in control of my eating. Clearly my food intake is pretty stress related. But stress and worry are key components of life that can’t be removed and, at best, only kept under some level of control.
man weighing himself
  • Emails Perhaps a bit old skool but still one of the main means of communication. Sort of on top of my personal emails if I pay them enough attention each day. But when work is busy then that eats into my time to address work emails. I have been very busy at work. Good busy in that we are making progress but still it’s been frenetic. My target is 50 emails in my work inbox; it’s currently 170. I need to take time out just to deal with these.
  • Zoom Clearly this platform has saved us during the pandemic. Without it, the economy and society would have ground to a halt. But now it is typical to spend a work day in back to back zoom meetings. It’s tiring. And physically I am sure there is a negative on our eyes by spending our lives in front of a laptop or or staring at your phone. My attempt to do more phone calls hasn’t worked out as zoom is the default for any meeting. Though zoom can be fun – we did an online work social on Tues evening including a quiz and pizza making.
Feeling swamped

How I get back to feeling in control

“You can do some rather extraordinary things if that’s what you really believe.”

Toni Morrsion
  • Rest and recovery This is my primary way of dealing with stress. I basically turn off and take time out. Particularly did that on Saturday where, after a hard week, I took the day to rest: coffee, reading, playing on the pooter, watching TV. Also turned to an old relaxation trick – long soaks in the bath. Feel a bit guilty as they are more wasteful than showers but there is something wonderful about just chilling in the bath listening to the radio.
  • Sleep I’m a great believer that if you are tired and in despair then go to sleep. I know some people have trouble sleeping and a lot of my night time sleep was very fitful last week. But I also caught a couple of afternoon naps. Nothing better than being able to just surrendering to oblivion where nothing matters and there is no worry.
Dozing bulldog
  • Exercise The opposite of sleep and rest is activity. It is so important to change your physical environment when feeling stressed. What is better than just walking, running, swimming or cycling? For me, walking clears my head and helps me sort out my priorities. I did my physio gym session last week for my knee and it was so nice to come away with that feeling of worked muscles. Must rejoin a gym but will Omicron lead to another lockdown in a few weeks.?
walking person
  • Drink water This is a new one but something I am trying out. I drink loads of tea and coffee (and some alcohol). But I think I need to drink more water for the good of my health. So I keep trying to take small glasses of water through the day. Though it does make me need to go a wee more LOL.
  • Family How to stop dealing with your own despair and lack of control? Focus on others. Spending time with mum can wind me up but you need to appreciate parents as long as you’ve got them because one day they will be gone and life will be different. And I spent time with my beloved partner particularly at the weekend to celebrate his birthday. Nothing big but a lunch together at one of our favourite local restaurants and time to catch up on both of our lives.
  • Friends Also important to maintain links with friends – I’ve been doing some Christmas cards. Again old skool but good reason to contact people (to check their address) and to maintain friendships. Also had a catch up with Phyllis to find out about life in (sunny) Torremolinos. And I have begun the process of linking up with several old friends to book in dinner. Trying to find dates that work for Dom and Daisy.
Networks
  • Reading I could spend the rest of my life drinking coffee in a cafe, reading a book and watching the world go by. It just takes me away to a happy place. Though no books completed last week and I missed the Velvet Page Book Club cos I was simply knackered. Still on my escapist Chinese sci-fi collection on the kindle. And my ‘hard’ book is a weird but entertaining piece of historical fantasy fiction by Allan Massie.
  • Crap TV Not enough time for real Art and Culture last week like wandering aimlessly around a gallery. But I did have time to be in front of the TV simply being entertained. Soaps were as great (and stupid) as ever. Whilst I’m a Celebrity, Strictly, and Dr Who have just been pure escapist easy-viewing.
  • Get spiritual Regular readers will know I have a spiritual side. I don’t know if I believe in God any more (does he believe in me? LOL) and I am a strong believer in the importance of science. But sometimes, to feel in control, I do feel that you have to believe that there is more to life than just everyday stress. And so you have to surrender to the universe and accept shit happens. I also wouldn’t under-estimate the importance of prayer and meditation (which come in many forms) that helps you feel in control of things.
Spiritual
  • Getting rid of shit Very much links to my ongoing battle to live more sustainably. I reckon the more stuff you own, the more shit you have to deal with. So I’m continuing to offload stuff in my life and not accrue new objects. Indeed, I think at my stage in my life, experiences are more important than things. The more space I see, the happier I feel.
  • Learning I continue to strive to constantly learn new things. Some Duolingo last week but no coding. It’s all about not having time. But by finding time and doing personal development so I feel more in control of my life and less stressed.
  • Future focus No matter how shit things are, you can plan for a better future and be optimistic about what is to come. Definitely more difficult as you get older and as people you know die. But there has to be hope and there is always something to look forward to. Even if it’s just a vague and (over) optimistic belief that things will get better and you will be more in control of events.
The future - next exit

The Week Ahead

  • My usual 3 day week at work. My co-colleague is away and there’s at least a couple of contracts I need to sort out as well as see the ending of two projects.
  • Wed afternoon, annual check-in with my HIV consultant. First time I will have seen her in about 3 years and it’s via a video link of course. Shouldn’t be any major issues – famous last words…
  • Two other health events next week. Tues afternoon, temporary crown is removed and permanent applied. So another big mouth injection and lots of drilling. Then on Thurs it’s another physio gym session to build my leg muscles and give more support to my dodgy knee.
  • Looking forward to a meet up with our old mates David and Gordon on Wed night
  • Try to keep in control of my health by not over-eating, drinking plenty of water, and taking exercise particularly lots of walking. Also some early nights, afternoon snoozes, and long soaks in the bath.
  • Time with mum and Dave plus sort out some friend meets as well as finish my Christmas cards
  • Will finish at least one of the 3 books I have on the go at the moment. And start a new one – this always makes me happy.
  • Carry on with my attempt at sustainable living and improving myself through personal development

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