Idle Hands…

After my first day at my new job, I slept. 

I mean, it was more than just sleep. It was a cohesive period of time (meaning I didn’t wake up once), and I woke up feeling rested.

I expressed this to Corey, -how amazed I was that I had slept (and continued to sleep well during my first week of work). His response?

“Idle hands…”

“What?” I said, “Idle hands what?”

“Idle hands are the devil’s plaything. You know.”

I tried wrapping my exhausted brain around this explanation.

Honestly, I think there is some truth in what he said. I have spent the last year, a little more, with relatively idle hands. No immediate purpose, or at least -not one that has required an ongoing intense physical and mental commitment. Of course, once could argue that this blog has acted as something of a mental commitment (hey, typing hands aren’t idle, right?), but I generally hadn’t been straying beyond the confines of the apartment.

I have been relaxing, which has been nice but I expect would be considered a bit idle.

In that time, things have been a little out of whack.

- trouble sleeping
- trouble expelling bursts of energy (or exercising at all)
- loneliness (because I spent most of my time alone)
- tense/anxious muscles and mind (including tension headaches)
- forgetting to eat/not feeling like eating at times
- no direction

I see these difficulties as a product of my relaxation… so I guess when they’ve overwhelmed me that would be the proverbial devil’s work. 

Since beginning to work full time last week, I have noticed a huge change in these things.

- falling asleep easily and able to sleep all night
- being tired has helped counter-balance bursts of energy
- craving alone time/being home (now I’m around people constantly)
- more relaxed muscles, anxious thoughts more specifically directed at a situation (and fewer tension headaches)
- scheduled lunch is a great reminder, enough expelled energy for hunger
- a lot to do, but only a limited amount of time

It is a little bit like opposite land… and though it isn’t a perfect place, it is interesting being faced with the opposite problems I had before. Particularly things like having no alone time.

So does “doing nothing” really cause more harm than good? I mean, doctors were constantly telling me to avoid stress, but did I avoid too much? Based on how things have changed, I think Corey’s theory may be somewhat correct.

I think the trouble here is that there is no one definitive answer because the situation is constantly changing. With bipolar disorder, I feel like the amount of stress I can handle at any given time is within a range, it isn’t a constant amount. If I am experiencing a negative episode, my stress tolerance may be zero, but if I am feeling good and confident it may be a 10 for the day.

My body, too, can only tolerate so much… but that amount is determined by a million other things.

So how do I know where to draw that line? How do I know for sure when relaxation is doing more harm than good, or when work begins to tip the scale? And is there a way to do some kind of dance around the two to keep things relatively level?

I know that this new work situation has its own set of problems, but it seems to be bringing some things to the table that I definitely didn’t expect.

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3 responses to “Idle Hands…

  1. You make some very good points. Since I haven’t been working, when I’m able I have made an effort to be busy somehow. I have multiple blogs, I run, I try to do housework (which I loathe & suck at btw), I have done freelance writing jobs, I’m working on a novel, I crochet. Obviously I don’t do all these things all the time, but it’s good to know I always have something to do & not too much time to sit around being bored. A counselor once told me sometimes it isn’t so much about not having energy as it is about how you use the energy you do have. I am still not an energetic person, but having something to do is the only things that keeps me going some days.

    • When I was at home I don’t think the issue was ever that I was bored exactly, as you described, I kept myself busy in many different ways as well. I think the difference when it comes to this job is that it takes much more social energy than I am used to expending and MUCH more physical energy. Heck, I can sit around and blog all day, but when I’m suddenly running up and down the stairs there has been a huge difference in mentality and physical relaxation.

      I agree completely with the how you use your energy statement, my therapist has often said the same thing. I’m glad you have things in your life that you can focus what energy you have on and feel good about accomplishing!

  2. I am really happy you are seeing positive changes in your health from working. It gives me hope that I will receive some of those as well when I work again.
    I agree with “Idle hands…” to an extent. I still think we need time to be alone and recharge and it is a great skill to be able to be alone with oneself and just “be”. I hear a lot of people are scared to be alone and with our fast-paced over-communicated society, we have lots of ways to escape what we fear we will face when we are alone.

    Much love to you,
    Trish

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