Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Stress and the Good Life

Some new-to-me info on Fibromyalgia (thank you Ysabeau!) highlighted the role stress plays in pain, brain fog, IBS, etc. symptoms related to fibro. Our conversation had me examining my current situation. I have the option of living a life where the only stresses above the norm are those added by my arthritis and other disabilities (enough to be going on with). I am aware of several methods for reducing stress, one of which is my crafting. Repetitive motion like that used when knitting and crochet is connected to stress and pain level reduction in many studies.
It was working well, until my ambition and drive got involved. Instead of utilizing my crafting as stress reduction, I was adding stress to my life by creating fairly artificial deadlines on my creative pattern endeavors. Adding deadlines to the mix seems to ramp up the stress levels way above norm.
I have been averaging a new pattern about every 2 weeks. This isn't many for a designer who farms out the actual sample making to another crafter, but I have been making my own samples. It takes me about 2-6 hours to write a basic pattern, more when grading (sizing) is involved. (This doesn't include the think time when I am playing with ideas, only the time spent after some of the major decisions have been made). Making the samples (and adjusting the pattern as I work and come up with new ideas for it) takes most of my work time.
Oscar estimates I work about 70 hours a week on designing and creating samples.
Sure, it is work I enjoy and feel lucky to be able to pursue, but the reality is I do not have 100% health, and if I want to enjoy my life here with Oscar, I need to set boundaries around the investment of time in my work. Yes, we need money. But we need me to be healthy even more.
Still, the actual work is not stressful at all to me, unless a deadline is involved. Deadlines are only added if I have promised a magazine or yarn company the pattern by a certain date. These are decisions I make myself when choosing to submit my ideas to companies prior to having a pattern and sample completed. (which is standard operating procedure in the knitting/crochet design world).
I ramped back on that type of submission earlier this year, but then fell into the trap of setting goals/dates for completion for some of the designs, particularly when I have been provided yarn support. Part of me feels they should have the design in their yarn asap. A laudable sentiment, except when it affects Oscar's and my life negatively.
It is entirely possible for me to avoid ALL deadlines simply by limiting the submissions to finished patterns, and reducing my requests for yarn support. But sometimes I find myself making deadlines for the upcoming projects on my list wihtout any external factors involved, just me setting time limits.Why do I do this? Perhaps because I like to feel I am working toward a goal.
I get a huge sense of accomplishment and self-worth through making that deadline, but the cost is becoming too high.
Perhaps I can make the goals achievement oriented, instead of time oriented. I may be able to hook my sense of accomplishment to holding the completed sample and having the pattern finished, without having a time factor involved. I love to create enough to have that as an impetus without needing a deadline, I think. All I know for certain is that something in my current work paradigm needs to change.
After all, when I stress myself into a fibro fog I actually accomplish a lot less that week than if I had taken a more moderate approach to begin with. Moderation. Something I had to work on before fibro became a fact of life. Isn't it amazing how many times you need to learn the same lesson as your life changes? I'll be 48 this year. I hope I can learn this lesson well enough to avoid the next class.


Lene Andersen said...

Thanks for posting this - came at the exact right time to remind me about learning moderation. Again. Hasn't stuck yet, but it's a work in progress...

Leslie said...

I hear and obey, oh wise one!

AlisonH said...

Boy, can I relate. Take care of yourselves!

Anonymous said...

i think this post has universal themes, whether about work/deadlines or other things. thanks.

Kym said...

Your self-reflection is beneficial for all of us! You're such a Can-Do kind of person . . . setting up deadlines and goals is just . . . a natural extension of who you are. You're also wise. You will find the balance! Take care of yourself, Diana. :-)