A good morning today before work. Up at 5:50 with my girlfriend, who had to go into the office in Tokyo today. Cooked her breakfast, washed the dishes and cleaned the sink, and attacked the veranda.
After a while, the veranda just gets dirty, especially with a bunch of potted plants out there. I moved everything around, swept up everything I could get that way, then scrubbed the whole thing down with soapy water and rinsed it all. All told, it took about 30 minutes, but what a difference it made!
We often spend time on the veranda when the weather is nice, and we hang the laundry out there a few times a week. When it isn’t clean, it’s one of those little things that bugs me at a low level at the back of my mind. Cleaning has cleared that stress away, and I’m glad. A small but important difference.
The unfinished paperwork for the visa renewal is still looming over me and I’m having to keep remind myself that everything in life is figure-out-able, and this is just paperwork. Important paperwork, yes, but just paperwork. Everything is being resolved, and one way or another, it will all work out.
The hard part of it is that there’s so much I feel unsure about, leading to a sort of nagging helplessness that seeps in just past the limits of what I can control or take care of directly. Feeling helpless is just about the most unpleasant feeling I know. It’s the sort of thing that leads to panic attacks, depressive relapses, and coping with things in unhealthy ways.
And when we feel helpless about something, it makes sense that we so often then focus our energies on controlling other things in our lives to get back some sense of security. I cleaned the balcony and the kitchen and put away laundry this morning because I want my apartment to be neater, yes, but there’s also an element of using these activities to reassure myself that there are areas of my life where I am in control of what’s going on.
There’s also just the fact that when we’re preoccupied with worry, especially when it’s worry about things out of our control, keeping busy helps move the stress out of the front of our mind and shoves it into the background. It’s harder to be overcome with worry when you’re deeply involved in a different activity.
I rarely get stuck in worry while I’m teaching, for example, so I know that today from 14:30 to 18:00, I’ can focus on the kids and not what’s bothering me.
The greater challenge will be to take care of everything I can to deal with paperwork today, and then focusing on other things this evening so that the worry doesn’t lead me into stressed-out insomnia. The last thing I need is to sleep badly, and insomnia is something I’m acquainted with entirely too well.