The other day I realised that I was getting worked up about something again. Slightly rised levels of stress, easier to forget to relax, “just going to do this first”, harder to get to bed in time. A loss of rhythm. These are some of the subtle warnings that I´ve learned to recognise.

Lately I´ve had some small changes in my routine. 4 hours more of work, spread out over 3 days a week. And I´ve started to take an evening class together with mr Livslevandes, 3 hours every Sunday night. Add the time for studying for the class, and I have 8 hours less of “leisuretime”. That’s definately something I need to adjust to, but I’m well aware of that and I didn’t think that was the cause of this vague stress.

So I sat down and had a talk with myself. The best way I know how to do this is with pen and paper. To write my thoughts down helps me catch them and make them clearer. This “conversation” went something like this:
– Why am I feeling stressed?
– There are so many things to do! Thank God the period of doing things every weekend is over (lasted from mid-september until last week). And with the course and everything Saturdays are the only days that don´t have any “musts” at all. I need to take care of the Saturdays!
– Sure, that’s the plan. And to settle in to this new rhytm.
– But there is that last Saturday in November. With the choire.

Ah. Last year I started singing with a choire. It’s great! I’ve always liked to sing, and with my last job I worked with children and we sang often. But my new job is at an office, so I needed to give myself an opportunity to sing and found this choire. I love it, we sing all kinds of songs. My least favourite part of it is the concerts though. And now our choire-leader had started talking about singing at stores and outdoors on the last Saturday in November, when the shops have a christmas-shopping-startup-thing.

– So, this is what’s stressing me out?
– Yes, I don´t know the songs well enough. I´m not comfortable with the thought of singing at the shops, when people aren’t even there to listen to us. It’s scary. And just 2 practises away!

OK, so now I knew the problem. Time to find a solution.

– Is there a way to make it feel safer?
– None that I know of. Practice more, maybe, but there isn’t that much time. And the others don’t seem to think that it’s a problem.
– OK, so maybe it isn’t a problem for them, but related to my oversensitivity to stress. Maybe I should just skip this one?
– But I can’t!
– Why not?
– … I’m not a quitter? People rely on me?
– Yes, but I’m not talking about quitting. I’m talking about skipping one concert. I’ve been at every concert since we started, few people have. If I go there, how will I feel?
– Totally stressed, and nervous. It will affect my sleep the week before, and I’ll be tired for days afterwards. It will make it harder to do my best at every other important thing going on in my life.
– And if I don’t go, how would that feel?
– Oh, wow… what a relief! But… I need to tell the choire-leader. I’ll just do that straight away, so that I don’t get myself worked up over that.

And so I sent a message to my choire-leader, that I felt that I couldn’t participate in this event since it was to stressful to me, with my fatigue syndrome-history. And got a swift and supportive response. And that was it, problem solved!

I don’t know how your mind works, but mine is like this most of the time, with voices I barely hear unless I really sit down to listen to them. And they are all mine… but often what they are saying is not really thought all the way trough. I’ve learned a lot about looking after myself while learning to live with fatigue syndrome. But my little voices aren’t always upgraded to this latest version of myself – they’ve been there for a long time.

I’ve heard that meditation is a way to make the voices quiet. Or rather, to become aware of them, and the fact that they are just thoughts, ideas, things I once believed were true. I kind of like them, though. The important thing is to give myself time to listen, and not just let the feelings the thoughts create run me blindly. They are looking out for me too, best as they can, but not always in a very efficient way.