Behind the scenes, Debut Author, stress management

Learning while Breathing

learning-while-breathing

You know the exploding head emoji? I think it was created for me to use these last few months for both the literal amount of info I’ve been stuffing into my noggin and the surreal feeling that my dream is finally becoming a reality (The Difference, my debut women’s fiction novel, is releasing July 29!). The truth is that I don’t know if I ever had to cram so much knowledge into my head in such a short amount of time in my life. Have you ever felt this way? Eek!

When I decided to change publishing paths and also to release my book 3 months from that decision, I knew it would be challenging but went full steam ahead from second one. I don’t regret it, but wow, there has a lot of long days, late nights, and sacrifices. Not only was I trying to stay afloat with getting the actual work done (aka the editing of each draft—and there have been 4 since that time), but I had to find the professionals I needed for each step, coordinate their schedules with mine and the other pros I wanted to hire, fill out their forms and such so they could do their jobs (this meant decisions and creating promo type stuff), make choices for where to publish as well as details like book size, and solidify my marketing plan quicker than intended. I won’t bore you with the million other details, but believe me they are numerous. And I also work a full-time job. Wow, huh? Publishing a book takes good time management, and thank God I excel in it.

What struck me multiple times was that I needed to know not only the obvious steps and make the known decisions, but that there were so many hidden tidbits of info that I either didn’t know I needed right away or that I wouldn’t have found without the help of my friends or the pros—and many of these bits led to hours of time. For example, when I put my book on Amazon next month, I need to include relevant categories so when people search, it may populate as a choice for them. I was lucky that a friend showed me how to choose the categories wisely as well as how to add more than first allowed. For a solid week I felt like so much info was coming at me everywhere I turned that I started making lists upon lists (a quirk of my main character in my book by chance, haha). I still have a list—down to one now—a mile long to work on every chance I get.

I’m sure you can relate to the rabbit hole of the internet. If I find one article on a publishing topic, there are usually links within it that take me to more articles with more links within. Aaaahhhhh! It’s welcomed and needed info, but can be a little overwhelming. At one point anxiety grew, leading to a racing heartbeat and shallow breathing. Along with the need to push myself to continue, I realized I also needed to breathe and take a break sometimes. This is difficult for a workaholic like me because my mind never turns off. Upon waking, my mind races before I even open my eyes. During this time period, I’ve been in overdrive, but I’ll burn out if don’t give myself a break. So how did I do that? Read on!

What I did to cope can be done by anyone at a stressful time, especially while in the process of learning (and before your head explodes). You may engage in some of these strategies already, but some may be new to you. I’m sure you have your own unique ways of self-soothing, so feel free to share them with me as well. The more minor and sillier the better!

  • 4-4-4 deep breathing- I love this one. I use it with clients as a therapist and it works for me as well. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts/seconds. Then, hold for 4 counts. Finally, release through your mouth for 4 counts. I only do this 3 times, or I get light-headed, but you can do it as many times as needed. 😊
  • Get up and walk away- Sometimes I walk to another room and stare out the window. Sometimes I walk around the house for a minute.
  • Go outside- Even for 2 minutes, this helps me tremendously. I don’t know why but getting out of the walls of my home and seeing the sunshine on most Florida days refreshes me.
  • Change rooms- I am lucky that I have an office and an art room in my house, so I alternate between them to work. There is a desk in my office, but in the art room I have a table or a comfy chair to use.
  • Change sitting positions- Speaking of the comfy chair, sometimes I sit there, sometimes I sit at the table, and sometimes I sit on the floor on a pillow, using my ottoman as a table. I usually sit in strange positions, and it isn’t until later that my middle-aged legs ask me why.
  • View social media- I don’t allow myself to stay on longer than 5 minutes if in work mode, but the interactions with friends are inspiring, often a comedic break, and can be motivating.
  • Talking to others- I alwayyyys feel relief in talking about my stress. My husband knows this one well! So I may do just that or talk to a friend real quick via messaging on social media or texting. Again, they cheer me on and they give me the boost I need sometimes. Validating words go further than you would think.
  • Get a different drink- I often drink water while working, but sometimes mix it up with different drinks, which sounds ridiculous, I know. But somehow the change keeps me going. Sometimes a girl needs a sparkling water instead, you know?
  • Self-talk- Never discount the strength of what you tell yourself. Our thoughts are powerful and can influence our feelings, I believe. So, give yourself a pep talk or come up with a phrase that keeps you going. Last week, during my last ever edits of The Difference, I told myself, “This is the last time.” It helped.

The balance of meeting a goal and taking care of yourself can be hard, but it is needed. People, take care of yourselves because you are the only you that exists. Let’s do what we need to do, learn all we can, but remember to breathe while doing it.

and-breathe

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

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