Relax and do nothing....or get up and do more?

barefoot

Sponsor
I realise that's a pretty binary question and that there are options in between, but I'm curious:

When people are struggling (high anxiety/low mood/perhaps when triggered) do you find it more helpful to rest, relax, try to remove whatever stressors you can, cancel stuff, sleep more etc?

Or do you tend to do better when you do stuff (whether that's clean the house, do some work, do grocery shopping etc?)

I'm in a place of: feeling exhausted all the time, whole body hurts, want to cancel the world and do nothing, be nothing, see no-one.
But also – relaxing is hard. I did a relaxation class today (an online yoga for long Covid people – which was really just sitting, doing body scans etc, doing a few stretches and breathing exercises....all very gentle and no getting into tricky yoga poses) I found it very difficult. Not just hard to concentrate....but hard to tolerate anything about it. I quite like deep breathing exercises etc usually (when I don't massively need them in the moment)....but not when I'm in this state....calming things make me feel more anxious and edgy and intolerant somehow, even though I think I want to rest.

But the idea of being around people, moving, leaving the house, getting something done...also creates anxiety and makes me feel edgy.

As I say, I'm sure there's a balance to be found, but I'm wondering which way others here tend to jump and which way (if either) tends to help people most.
Clear the diary, rest, do nothing? Or get going, get moving, get busy?

At the moment, I'm really struggling with either. And can't seem to find an effective mid point either!
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
So, when life totally blows, and I recognize my energy is low, and the week is pure crap and I'd rather stay in bed, I know I need to get busy and make a daily plan. I avoid at all costs stressful things and anyone's drama. I write down a minimum of 3 major things during the day to accomplish and make a list in notepad app on my phone with 3 major things I need to accomplish PLUS some easier necessary things I need to do, like take meds, eat a meal, brush teeth, comb hair, and shower.... I write them all down, and in the order I'll do them. Then I check them off in notepad which is motivating, For example, normally I get up, take meds, eat breakfast, and then "do something productive." like cleaning the kitchen has to happen but on a good day it is a 15 minute task which I usually try to do if I have something in the kitchen cooking, and on a bad day.....it can take me is an hr and that's only a sink full of rinsed dishes and washing the counter down, and unloading the dishwasher, and reloading and putting trash out. I hate the dishes and cleaning....but I hate fruit flies and gnats, too. Then I self-reward..... I do something self-rewarding, or positive, something for someone else, or something totally distracting that is enjoyable....like play an online card game (hoping for a little win), phone a "happy or funny" friend, fill an online Amazon cart and not buy on that day (I always think about buying but the shopping part is fun-I don't buy on these days), research online some new place to visit or photograph, or watch a positive light 45 min./ 1 hr. show which won't create any more stress and will likely make me smile a little anyways, find a recipe for the best pizza crust I want to try, etc. When that reward time is over, then I do the next major thing on the list....and then self reward with something different for an hr...(maybe practice music, work on an art or photo project, or garden, or hang a picture)......then I do the same for the 3rd task.....and self reward for 45-1hr. Then there is time for a late lunch-often I go outside and picnic or sit on the dock...........and if I'm wearing thin by 2-2:30.....I use my nap as a reward because I got busy, functional, and am tired from being active and down......but I didn't give up, throw in the towel, and quit before getting out of bed.....

I have had to make the bed off limits until I check off the 3 things I promised myself + the basic daily self-care things. So, a nap can be my reward for staying busy......I earn my naps this way and on good days.....don't need nor want to be in bed-but on bad days....it's almost sings to me to come put my head on a pillow. It's a good gauge of how I'm doing-staying out of the bed and active all day....or needing an earning a nap. I know I need to be "busy" and avoid additional stressors to prevent bad days from turning into weeks and weeks long depression-so I don't tend to call anyone who likes to complain or is having an issue.....before going to bed at night when I feel low because I won't sleep and their drama will become my nemesis.....and keep me up.....at most, I might text them something positive with a "good nite" behind it .....but I don't engage in drama chat via email or text in the late afternoons or evenings at all. Instead, I read, do something enjoyable like crochet or plan my next day and daily list, take my meds, a hot bath, or whatever seems relaxing so I can go to bed w/o added stress. Hope this helps.
 
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brat17

MyPTSD Pro
Truthseeker I am really impressed. I need you as a coach. I can really relate to Barefoot in that I don't know what is best and don't handle things well in addition. I seem to have low mood....dont feel stressed...and want to stay in bed with my fatigue. Once I get going, I start feeling the stress to do more, so I don't have an answer.

Once I start, its like a diversion to (likely underlying stress) and I cant stop. I want to clean everything. However, most days I do the opposite and stay in bed a lot.

I know I need to find that balance. I think I feel displaced.

Barefoot I am struggling with both as well, and don't have a good answer, but you are not alone.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Second everything @brat17 said!

I find the relaxation/meditation things super stressful at times like this. Because it makes me aware of my body, and that's the opposite of what I can deal with. Like you @barefoot, breathing exercises usually helps calm. But in this heightened state: it makes me feel my body, become aware of it, think about trauma, get stressed even more, can't breathe, feel even more deflated and pathetic and punish myself even more about how I can't even do a breathing or meditation.
So nope. That doesn't work.

It's that real bind of: do I just do the 'nothing' and ride this out. Try not to punish myself for feeling like this.
Or is the 'doing nothing' going into a more dangerous territory.
I don't know the answers either. Sorry!

I'm in this state again today.
I'm going to do what @TruthSeeker suggested and just get a brief 'to do' list. And gently go through it. And lots of positive praise to me. Might say it out loud to myself. That always seems to help to hear my voice now as an adult and bring me more into the here and now.

Sending healing vibes.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Wow @Teamwork - sounds like you have found the balance and are smashing it! Thank you for taking the time to write all that out to share what you do.

I’m ok with small routine stuff (brushing teeth, getting dressed etc) It's just the general expanse of the day and what to do with it that I'm feeling unsure about at the moment.

Aware that my thread title probably implied whether I should get out of bed or not. I am getting out of bed. If nothing else, I have two cats so, however bad I feel, I have to get up to care for them.

Also, I don't want to make napping 'wrong' or 'bad' as I have long Covid and fatigue is a major remaining symptom, plus I've recently had a bereavement and grief always feels so heavy and exhausting. So, I will nap if I feel very tired and feel a need for sleep.

I'm self-employed and my work is very quiet at the moment. So, the days just sort of stretch out....and then the day is over. My partner keeps telling me to rest, watch Zootropolis (watching animated kids films is a bit of a self-care go to for me), don't do anything stressful, take all pressure off... But, at the moment, those things don't feel particularly restful....I guess because I don't feel peaceful and I want something to help make me feel more peaceful but these 'relaxing' things seem to jangle me even more.

I also had a text from my T last night, who also said to take it easy and rest as much as possible.

Rest doesn't always mean feeling relaxed, I guess?

I have one work call tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see how that feels. At the moment, I don't want to do it and the thought of it is ugh, stressful. But I'm determined not to cancel it. So, it will be interesting to learn whether my 'ugh, no!' instinct was something I should have listened to, or whether it ends up being a positive distraction, which will perhaps even give me a bit of a boost...
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
I have a list of tools in the corner pocket in my purse. My T says the hardest part is to remember that I have the list when I go “offline.”

Anxiety: nature, exercise, clean house, avoid people, paint

Depression: make myself do at least one thing. Take a drive. Sit Outside.

I try not to work my full schedule on bad depression days, sometimes work can be a great distraction from anxiety, but if symptoms are really bad, I can reschedule stuff. (I only work part time, which makes this possible)
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Best case: When I am really integrated and feeling super healthy do I lay low or do more.
I do more - get all my obligations out of the way (socializing school, work, clients etc).

Lowest point: so when I feel low, I am low....daydreaming, and make sure I sleep well, eat well, keep low, no socializing and self care.

I find this way I do not feel guilty or shame or any of those heavy feelings but more like I do not care, self-preservation, protection, isolation, withdrawal.

I am quite conscious of this so I can manage my relationship with my husband and manager, friends, family in healthy way not haphazard manner.
today: feeling low! had a brutal and dissociating interview yesterday...😥
 

Huxley

Learning
I experienced something like what you are describing in this sentence

I'm in a place of: feeling exhausted all the time, whole body hurts, want to cancel the world and do nothing, be nothing, see no-one.
But also – relaxing is hard.


I was exhausted. My stress cup was full but I didn't recognize it. I was experiencing what I now understand to be a form of a flashback, where emotional overwhelm would come out of nowhere. Strangers and routine interactions with them became a source of stress, for crazy reasons or no reason at all. I wanted to not deal.

I am fortunate to be at a life stage where pulling back was an option (and my social life is very sparse anyway, too sparse), and so I chose to do so. Then of course the pandemic came along, requiring all of us to isolate.

Has it worked for me? In a strange way, yes. It's akin to the idea that that which you cease to resist ceases to need so much attention. I sometimes frame it as inner child work, what I am doing is creating space for me to be childlike and free from responsibility, in ways that were not available to me when I was an actual child, which helps silence the inner critic who suggests there are more productive ways to spend my time. Perhaps that's an indulgent and extreme way to frame it, but I don't think I will need this level of self-care and self-compassion forever; I just need it now, and boatloads of it.

And no, I can't really relax, either. I just kinda try to flow, and let things happen, which having fewer responsibilities allows me to try to do.
 

Starfire

Confident
I realise that's a pretty binary question and that there are options in between, but I'm curious:

When people are struggling (high anxiety/low mood/perhaps when triggered) do you find it more helpful to rest, relax, try to remove whatever stressors you can, cancel stuff, sleep more etc?

Or do you tend to do better when you do stuff (whether that's clean the house, do some work, do grocery shopping etc?)

I'm in a place of: feeling exhausted all the time, whole body hurts, want to cancel the world and do nothing, be nothing, see no-one.
But also – relaxing is hard. I did a relaxation class today (an online yoga for long Covid people – which was really just sitting, doing body scans etc, doing a few stretches and breathing exercises....all very gentle and no getting into tricky yoga poses) I found it very difficult. Not just hard to concentrate....but hard to tolerate anything about it. I quite like deep breathing exercises etc usually (when I don't massively need them in the moment)....but not when I'm in this state....calming things make me feel more anxious and edgy and intolerant somehow, even though I think I want to rest.

But the idea of being around people, moving, leaving the house, getting something done...also creates anxiety and makes me feel edgy.

As I say, I'm sure there's a balance to be found, but I'm wondering which way others here tend to jump and which way (if either) tends to help people most.
Clear the diary, rest, do nothing? Or get going, get moving, get busy?

At the moment, I'm really struggling with either. And can't seem to find an effective mid point either!
I make a list of things that absolutely have to be done every day. It also depends if more anxiety or depression. For me if it's anxiety, I can't sit still. I try not to interact with people but be busy.

If it's depression, I rest more. I need to be cautious that I don't ruminate on something that makes the depression worse. Hence the 3 things that needs to be done. Doing laundry can be so complex on those days.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
My T says the hardest part is to remember that I have the list when I go “offline.”

Ain’t that the truth!

today: feeling low! had a brutal and dissociating interview yesterday...😥

Sorry to hear this @grit :(

It also depends if more anxiety or depression.

Perhaps that’s the extra challenge for me at the mo…because it’s both. And, as a few on this thread are saying, if it’s anxiety they tend to do x and when it’s depression they tend to do y. So, when you’ve got both anxiety and low mood at the same time? Even harder to find the balance, I think…because how do you address both, which seem to need different things?
Hmm…
 
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