Two weeks to Christmas, three weeks to 2021, it’s that time of year when I start to reflect on my year and think about the next one.
It’s been a year like no other with Covid scuppering so many of my plans for my 60th year. In some ways I feel I’ve responded well to its challenges. I’ve managed to keep fit and control my weight, done some useful work in the house and garden, kept this blog going and found a new purpose with two big projects on the horizon that could keep me very busy next year.
Despite these achievements and the absence of work in my life I still feel anxious, out-of-sorts and agitated rather too often. I’d hoped that retirement would have resulted in a happier, more relaxed me but it just hasn’t happened
Work used to consume me and then when big projects were completed I could properly relax until the next deadline came along. There was something about that rhythm that was a good thing.
It feels as if stress and anxiety is a constant and that now I’ve largely removed one for stress factor – work – my mind needs to find other things to worry about.
These days I fret much more about what’s going on in the world, I’m a bit of a news junkie but stories about Covid, Brexit and our new world of work just wind me up. I’ve have never felt so alienated but I know I need to chill as I have zero control over these things.
Then there’s the more day-to-day things that annoy me like poor service from utility companies to banks, from doctors to local authorities. Again there’s little I can do about reforming the NHS.
Despite feeling relatively fit with all my running I still worry about health – I’ve worried about catching the dreaded virus on at least half a dozen occasions this year. Then normal day-to-day health blips anything from palpitations to a sore stomach can make a think a stroke’s on the way or it’s the start of the BIG C.
I also have a constant drive to be doing things – making the most of moments, planning the next trip, that kind of thing, and my mind is constantly full of ideas.
All this is manifesting itself in various periods of generalised anxiety – a bit of a knot in my stomach first thing in the morning and many nights of poor sleep.
I’m also finding other things to worry about– I’ve started to stress about motorway driving, particularly the busy stretches of the new smart motorways where you can’t stop and you’re surrounded by huge lorries that congest our roads day and night.
I can often only find relief by doing something active such as exercise – running is best – or alcohol but there’s a limit to how much I want to do either. Other things some times work like gardening, reading, writing and, of course, sex but I sense need to find inner calm rather than distractions.
I downloaded the Calm app this morning and tried a 10 minute introduction to meditation. It was a real struggle to concentrate for all that time but I will persist. Maybe, in the new year, I should give yoga another go or perhaps I just a need a proper holiday, a change of scene to reset.
Perhaps my feelings are just par for the course when you’re going through a big life transition in the midst of a global pandemic. I’ll learn more next year but de-stressing is my number one goal of 2021.