The Art of Relaxing
One of the hardest parts of my day is taking a break and relaxing. I have a hard time sitting still, I tend to jump from one thing to the other. The problem is when I am focused on a task, I get completely obsessed with achieving my goals.
I have ADHD and OCD (among other issues), so I bounce back and forth. Usually I hit a roadblock or start to get frustrated and I just abandon the project completely and obsess over something new.
The other thing that can happen is I get more obsessive when I start to fail, until it gets so bad that it can become unhealthy or even dangerous.
That is why I am trying to take a break during the day to relax. I try to take a walk or read a book. I just try to not go overboard (keyword is try), so I don’t burn myself out. This is my method so far.
Step 1: Time Limits
This is pretty straightforward, I limit myself to a certain amount of time for each activity. I give myself some free time to relax, in between my tasks. For example I set myself an hour a day to writing this blog. Sometimes if I have a poem or thought I’ll make a note of it, but I do all my writing in one go.
Step 2: Communication
I always tell my wife and counselor when I am obsessing over something, because the former can keep an eye on me to make sure I don’t spiral out of control. The latter usually helps me take a step back and evaluate my priorities. This doesn’t always work, but it allows me get my obsession out into the open, and makes the next two steps easier.
Step 3: Stopping
My time limits are to give myself structure and try to keep me from obsessing, not to run my life completely. They offer a boundary, not a wall. If I get frustrated or overly obsessive, I stop and walk away from the task. I also find that breathing or meditating directly after these outbursts help a lot.
Also if my daughter or wife need me for something, I stop. My family is way more important then any task. For the most part they respect my need to write or draw, in order to express myself, but they also provide me with another healthier purpose. I feel like this is a crucial step and it leads directly into step 4.
Step 4: Walking Away
This sounds simple, but it hardly ever is. When I get a compulsion, it’s not like I can just stop because I want to. It takes a lot of willpower and a lot of help. The difference between stopping and walking away, is I don’t pick that particular project, game or whatever I am obsessing over.
I have learned that if I don’t walk away from something and clear my head at the beginning of the obsession, it just builds up.
Walking away is not always easy and sometimes I try and fail from doing so. Sometimes it can get ugly real quickly. The following are examples of how this behavior can grow.
Why I Walk Away
I have spent whole days cleaning my entire kitchen. On my hands and knees scrubbing the floor and baseboards. Taking everything out of the cupboards and fridge. While this sounds productive and cleanliness is good, I couldn’t stop until every speck of dirt was gone
I even woke up in the middle of night and started rewashing dishes. I just couldn’t sleep. I had convinced myself I hadn’t cleaned them enough.
That was one of my tamer obsessions, but I used to get obsessed with online gaming.
I started out playing for fun, but once I got really good and made it onto the leaderboards I got obsessed.
I would spend every hour I wasn’t working playing my game or socializing with other gamers, making plans for raids or talking about strategies for game play. My life revolved around the game and no matter how good I got, I had to get better.
Any time I fell off the leaderboards, I would have panic attacks. I would go a whole day without eating or even call out of work just to get back on top.
It pushed my relationships to the breaking point. I actually lost some old friends, and I eventually had to make a choice.
I just walked away and stopped playing a game I had invested years and hundreds of dollars in.
Now I have a game plan and while I still have days where I obsess over things; games, books, a thought and even conversations, it’s gotten a lot better. Now I just take it day by day, and I hope to one day conquer my obsessive behavior completely.
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