The other day, I woke up in a great mood.
I had just finished working the Comic Book Convention (Comic Con) and was tired but satisfied. After the last day of work, I had an amazing, celebratory-style dinner until late, and then I went home and knocked out hard. I slept for almost 14 hours. When I woke up I felt happily rested, but was shocked to see that it was 2:40pm! A sleep record!
I had great dreams during that record sleep, though, one after another, leaving me giddy and feeling fresh. My mood lasted most of the day, until a weird, upset feeling filled my stomach. I couldn’t trace the uncomfortable sensation at first, but I wouldn’t let it persist without thinking it through. Lately I’ve been trying to not let upset feelings hinder my mood without tracking their source. Sometimes I know the origin right away, and other times it surprises me.
It took me awhile to locate the source of my mood spoiler, and then I realized. It was so silly. My bad mood came from the fact that I didn’t want to go to the gym.
Because I woke up so late, I worked and did errands until way later in the day than usual, and left the gym for last. But my body was tensing up about it, not wanting to go running in the dark, and just wanting to chill out on the couch since it was already 9pm.
I laughed in realization, but the laughter did not shake the feeling. Sometimes even when I can place my distress, I can’t shake the storm clouds. But I went to the gym anyway- running around the neighborhood in the dark until I got to the door of my fitness center. I goaded myself out of the house with promises of exciting music, guilty pleasure 90s tunes and some David Bowie. When I got back home, I felt better, but a habitual mild tension remained.
The next day, a similarly uncomfortable feeling raced through my body all day. I looked around for where the feeling came from and it took me a few hours to place: I was dreading a new client that I hadn’t met yet and a show I’d never worked before. Sometimes I get weirdly stressed before work with a totally new client, even though I’ve been working in this field for at least 13 years. Force of habit.
Nothing was really wrong in both scenarios mentioned above. Usually nothing in particular is wrong. My body isn’t warning me of imminent danger or forecasting bad omens ahead. There’s just a habit in place of getting uncomfortable about things I don’t want to do, or worrying about run of the mill things that happen all the time.
So go ahead and take your upset feelings seriously, but see if you can trace them before they sweep you away. Take habitual discomfort with a grain of salt and see whether your stress is a rerun, repeating time after time and leading you to think something is seriously wrong. It pays to take a breath and remind yourself that most things are okay and you’re allowed to not worry all the time. In fact, the worry you may be facing down may not be helping you with anything, but instead hindering you from enjoying the current moment and looking forward to the future.