It’s just like crab walking up the side of a mountain

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Good morning, and welcome to “obligatory wedding stress post”!

As the above line suggests, I am in the middle of organizing my wedding. I, unlike many, did not feel obligated to plan my wedding and whatnot as a wee young thing. I didn’t even get in the spirit as I went through my 20’s and started collecting bridesmaids dresses from all the other weddings going on.  To be honest, as I look at the heaps of flower and linen decisions, I’m not really in the spirit now. (Exception to this will be the food and cake tastings because; um… do I really need to explain that?)

So instead I find myself productively procrastinating. I’m sure you are familiar with this skill. It’s when you put off doing something that you know you really need to be doing (very often there is a deadline looming- that is a main indicator that productive procrastination will be set off) by doing something that is aaaaalmost as important, but not right at that moment. For example: MUST DO- Finalize guest list and send out Save the Dates.  WHAT I DID-Cleaned the kitchen and baked Orange Chocolate-Chunk mini scones.

See? That way if anyone got on my case about not doing what I’m “supposed” to be doing, I just offer him or her a scone. (Unless I have eaten them all by that point, in which I can bake MORE!)

The nice thing about productive procrastination for me is that not only do I end up being more productive all over (again- clean kitchen and SCONES!) but I also usually have a breakthrough on whatever it is that is blocking me  from getting that original thing done. Sometimes just stepping away from what is causing you stress can help you from beating your head against the wall, and you are able to focus again on what you really need to be working on.

And having scones doesn’t hurt either.

sconed

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Z, Y, X, W, V, U…. T?

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I cannot speak for other counselors, but I had a favorite group topic I liked to do while I was working in inpatient. Did not matter if adults or kids, I enjoyed doing this one. When you are working in an inpatient setting, you realize that it is never a matter of IF someone is going to go into crisis, it is more a WHEN will someone go into crisis. There is something about the environment, especially for those consumers that have really decompensated, or those who have been court ordered for treatment (and sometimes those are two in the same), that is conducive to short tempers with sometimes-dangerous outcomes. Which leads me back to my favorite inpatient group topic. I am talking about the topic of “stress relief and appropriate coping skills”. Yep!

I would start out my session with asking each person to identify some of the issues in their lives that “stress them out.” If I remember correctly the top three were often, “Money”, “Being in here [inpatient facility]”, and “family”. There was very often a combination of two out of three, with the occasional Three-in-a-Row answer written on each worksheet. (I preferred to use worksheets to help those who were less verbal in the group discussions, demonstrate that they were at least paying attention to the topic and hopefully gaining something from the session.) I could tell when the consumers started to make understanding and commiserating responses that they were identifying with other group members and their stresses.

As the session progressed, each person was asked to identify some of the physical and emotion symptoms they experience when they are starting to feel stressed. Finally, they were asked, “What are some ways you can reduce stress, and even prevent future stress?” Some people had many answers; some had few or none.  Often these were the consumers who were very sick- either they were very depressed and had yet to rediscover any hope, or they were the ones living in their own little world and only occupying a physical space in the room.

There were three favorite answers that I would recommend if the group had trouble starting off: writing, laughter, and counting to ten. Often the suggestion to “count to ten slowly” elicited laughter, so two birds- one stone, right? As for writing, perhaps I am taking my own advice here, as I jot down these experiences and stories. Even if the scribbles are not remotely related to what might be the precipitating factor of one’s stress, just letting a flow of thoughts and ideas out, can be helpful. At least I find it is.

Oh, and saying the alphabet backwards (that’s my little stress reliever secret).