Part of flourishing is recognizing when you aren’t flourishing. Along those lines, this hasn’t been my finest week!
I am writing this draft from a park in San Diego with earbuds in, trying to drown out the noises of urban life around me.
I watch planes descending on their flight path toward the airport and realize that I want to get out of here and go anywhere else. I want the dopamine hit that comes from novelty and exploration.
I want fewer dogs pooping and pissing on the grass here—and fewer dog owners cooing to their dogs as though they’re children—and more rain to cleanse the area. I want the yoga movements and construction noises around me to stop.
Instead of the clarity and peace of mind I seek, I find restlessness and frustration within.
I ask myself: Did I make a mistake in returning to San Diego? Is it too crowded, noisy, self-important (just check Reddit for defensive comments about San Diego), and expensive for my taste? Maybe.
Or am I yearning for a pre-Covid society that’s no longer reflected in the faces and places around me?
Sometimes I think it would be easier to move somewhere that I have little to no experience with because I could eliminate the before and after comparisons. I would be blissfully unaware in 2022, for example, of how much better that place was in 2019.
A part of me worries that a recession could be coming and that I should lean into the stable and predictable by staying put and switching from freelancing to full-time employment. But another part of me wants to greet uncertainty with bolder changes and a new environment.
In the meantime, as I struggle to find direction, I feel stuck in a cycle of rumination and angst that’s wreaking havoc on my nervous system.
Writing this is making me feel better, however—as though I’m an observer in the eye of the storm who is safe for now from the wind and flood-inducing rains. I just hope reading it doesn’t make you feel worse!
I know that I have to let these emotions and thoughts run their course and take life moment by moment and day by day.
In times like these, I try to fall back on the old standbys of exercise, sunshine, a stiff drink (just kidding, although it is tempting!), meditating, and socializing. I also find that playing calm music through headphones allows me to drown out the noise of the outside world, which in turn quiets my inner world.
Lastly, I sometimes try to make a smaller decision when I am not yet ready to make a bigger one.
A smaller decision, like applying for a job or setting aside time to surf or hike, can get momentum going toward a larger decision without tipping the balance. The job application may or may not lead to an offer, for instance, which may or may not impact the staying-or-leaving decision. As for the other example, healthy outdoor exercise can clear the mind and provide perspective on a situation.
What are your strategies for coping with restlessness? Do you put the boxing gloves on or take a midnight drive with the windows rolled down? What works for you? I encourage you to leave a comment if you’re up for sharing. Most importantly, though, I just want you to think about what helps you feel better on restless, frustrating days so that you can handle them in your own way when they come.