Stress management part 2 – mindfulness and Chinese noodles

There is a show that my wife and I started watching on Netflix called Workin’ Moms. It’s a Canadian show, and we only have access to the first season, even though there have been 3, but there was a moment on the show that really stuck with me.   A character on the show had just gotten back to work from maternity leave when she was presented with the opportunity of a promotion that meant working in a different city for a large amount of time. She took the position without talking to her husband, and the conflict became the focus of the episode. At one point, she came home to find her husband making dinner, but in a very loud and aggressive way. He was repeatedly slamming a chunk of dough against the countertop (my many hours wasted watching the Food Network told me right away that he was making Chinese noodles), and his wife walked in and said something along the lines of “So, you are making Chinese noodles, which means you are self-soothing, which means you’re probably still pretty mad.”

I laughed, turned to my wife and told her that I needed to start making Chinese noodles.

I came into this school year refreshed, rejuvenated, and excited about the possibilities. To be fair, it has been a pretty good year, but it has been filled with stressors, both large and small, that have accumulated into a big ball of stress. I know I need to find something that does not involve getting a grease fix on the way home to help alleviate my stress and build mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a funny thing. You would think it is something that you wouldn’t have to learn or be taught, but I have slowly been lured over to the dark (light?) side and realized that maybe I do have to teach myself some new tricks.

However, here is the thing; apparently I suck at mindfulness.

Our school offers sessions on mindfulness on development days and I generally try to avoid them. I can’t ever seem to get into that mindset of fully letting go of all of my concerns and allowing the soothing music or oils to seep through my body. I’ve tried it, for the sake of the experience, but I just can’t sit quietly and not think. I tried at our last session, and although many got something out of it, I just couldn’t fully commit. I’m sure it is a “me issue,” but what I left with was the general sense that if this wasn’t the path to personal mindfulness, I need to find one that works for me.

I’m on the hunt for ideas, and a few have piqued my interest, so my Google searches have been focused on these things. I know stress management and mindfulness are not synonymous, but I have learned that while mindfulness may not reduce stress for me, maybe a stress reduction technique I can find will make me more mindful. My first instinct, as it is in most situations, is to turn to sports.

Any time I get truly stressed, an image pops into my head, and it is me stepping into the batters box and squaring up a fastball. It’s an image that has existed forever in my brain, but one that I have never really considered putting into reality. I stopped playing baseball when I was 12, and except for the 5 years I spent coaching high school softball, I haven’t picked up a glove or bat since. I did step in the cage and demonstrate technique for the girls I coached, but I haven’t gone to the batting cages and just hit since I was a kid. Unfortunately, it appears that the days of going to a mini golf location and just putting quarters into a batting cage are over. Most batting cages near me are big business for traveling teams, and I don’t want to be the weird 40-year old guy taking some cuts while a bunch of 13-year olds work on their skills.

I’ve also thought about stopping at a bowling alley and just bowling a few games by myself a couple days a week. I used to bowl pretty actively in high school, and even won a scholarship that covered books for my first semester of college through a bowling tournament. I joined a league a few years ago with some of my co-workers, but by the end of the league I had torn my meniscus and was out of commission. The injury happened outside of bowling, but I guess I’m still mentally connected to the idea that bowling equals injury.

I’ve also considered floating, but, well, the whole sitting still and not thinking thing has generally failed me in the past. Whatever it is, I know I need to find something quickly. Stress has gotten the best of me for too long and I need to strike back. I don’t know if it will be going to the batting cages, the bowling alley, or even just finding time to work out, but something has got to give to get this stress under control. No matter what it turns out to be, I really need to find my Chinese Noodles, and I need to find them quickly.

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