A good friend of mine recently shared some excellent advice about dealing with stress. Even though I help my clients cope with anxiety and depression every day, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t helping myself when I needed it most. I was feeling completely overwhelmed. Stressed. Anxious. Tense. Angry. Sad. Negative. I was facing a growing to do list that was painful and scary. I was feeling much lower than I could have ever imagined feeling. For the first time since I can remember, I lost sight of that light I always saw at the end of every tunnel in which I found myself.
My friend noticed. She offered me a coffee and unsolicited advice, as she often does (please don’t stop!) and I listened because she’s one smart lady. This is what I heard.
Your glass is no longer half full or half empty and this isn’t about optimism. Your glass is overflowing with dark, inky black and you can no longer see clearly. You can’t stop the flow of this stuff into your glass. Not right now. It will stop eventually, but right now all you can do is compensate for the black by pouring in some pink. Lots of PINK!!! Was she referring to the $300 pink Dom Peringnon that I cannot afford? No. PINK represents joy, adventure, fun, laughter, love.. Basically, the sunshine and roses I was denying myself because I was too blinded by the dark, inky blackness that was swallowing me whole to realize that I was living a life without PINK.
What’s your PINK, she asked. What do you do for fun? What brings you joy?
That’s when I realized that aside from working, it had been a many many months since I had engaged in the activities that bring me joy. Even with wonderful, loving people in my life, only I could do these things for myself.
In the weeks to follow I started thinking about adding PINK. What did I even feel like doing? Just getting dressed and feeding myself felt difficult enough. I felt stagnant and uninterested and hopeless. Then one day I said ___ it and I took the first step, perhaps for no other reason than to appease my concerned friend.
I made it to the ski hill sporting my brand new pink goggles that had been collecting dust since last season. Somewhere in between sitting solo on the lift and flying down the double diamonds like a half-pro yeti, I felt my insides smile and I smiled back. I also discovered that when you’re mid adrenalin rush trying not to break your no longer 20-something body, it’s actually impossible to think about [insert dark inky blackness] even if just for a few seconds at a time.
I also started drawing again. This took several weeks. I couldn’t find my artist’s pencils, pastels or paint brushes from years ago so made do with my collection of Sharpies and some random canvasses stored behind my sofa. It was kind of like riding a bike without the need to wear a helmet. My hands remembered what to do. After a week or so of indulging my creative side, my living room was littered with images that smiled at me. I smiled back.
I discovered a few other PINK things, like Pinterest and some awesome new blogs (Mark Manson, where have you been all my life?) and channeling my inner barista to make the perfect cappuccino while listening to Angie Nussey. Writing unexpected thank you cards to people who have done sweet things. Curating my collection of seashells and rocks. Calling old friends and making new ones. Staying a little more on top of current events (The Dress is White and Gold people!!!) and visiting my very cool family.
It looks like my PINK is one part adrenalin, one part creativity, one part having a good laugh with my sister and one part singing at the top of my lungs in the shower/car. When I consistently pour myself PINK, the dark, inky blackness doesn’t disappear, but it’s way easier to deal with.
I notice when I haven’t been pouring myself PINK, the darkness can creep back quickly. You have to stay on top of the PINK, even when it’s really hard. Sometimes just a little PINK every day is all you need to cope. Sometimes, just a little PINK makes everything else seem possible again.
I hope sharing this will help someone else find their PINK. Or PURPLE or ORANGE. Regardless of what colour you use to paint yourself positive, I hope you find a way to do it. And smile 🙂