What stress looks like.
Let’s talk about stress. Er, maybe not. No, let’s.
In this post, I hinted that August was a challenging month for me: organizing my dessert tour, balancing shoots behind and in front of the camera, having to visit four different doctors for various medical conditions, yadda, yadda, ad nauseam. Yeah, yeah, everyone’s busy, everyone’s stressed, no one cares…
I’ve never been good with stress and I am stressed right now. I’m told that what affects the average person affects me 10 times more. What’s more, it’s only in the past few years that I’ve been made to see how much of a perfectionist I am and how I drive myself very, VERY hard. It produces exceptional work, yes, but it leaves me a quivering, rebellious mess.
My parents like to say that they always knew I was a rebel. As an adolescent, I sported aggressive blond streaks in my hair, wore my black leather stud cuffs with pride (hello, punk rocker), and scared the bejeezus out of my conservative tita when she spied my electric blue toenails peering out from my peep-toe sandals. Now that I’m an adult, my inner rebel manifests itself in my absolute intolerance for incompetence and bullsh**, and my dirty mouth. Yes, I curse, inserting well-placed profanities here and there to emphasize disdain, delight, or displeasure. I’m not ashamed of it nor do I try to disprove it – I’m no Maria Clara nor do I desire to be one.
When it comes to stress, even my view of it is somewhat rebellious. Doctors say that human interaction mitigates stress, but I believe that only to a point. I like people enough, but if you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test, I’m what’s called a severe introvert. For those of you who have met me, this might come as a surprise. An extrovert recharges by socializing with other people; an introvert – i.e., me – gets her mojo back by being alone.
Don’t get me wrong, my social skills are on point – I could charm that last slice of cake from you, but like all introverts, I’m better with small groups, I value meaningful discussion, and I listen before I talk.
I also prefer to combat stress with non-human interaction. Illustrations to prove my point:
I’m big on reading, and the “place where the magic happens,” as a friend of mine once said, is here in my library. When I feel like hiding away, I’m here in my special place, browsing through my baking books and deciding what to bake next. Safe and sheltered here, book(s) in hand, the peace that pervades through me is almost palpable. I’m almost halfway to zen.
When I’m stressed, I flick a middle finger to the world and unplug. I won’t take calls or answer emails or texts. Occasionally, I’ll even blow off exercise (gasp!) and blithely munch my way down and through a bag of Smoked BBQ potato chips. At night, I’ll go out for cocktails and then come home inspired, and shoot photos like those below.
I hate to admit it but forcing myself to work is one of the best ways to de-stress and ignite my creativity again. Here, I play around with some photography gels to capture a certain mood I’m after: hello, dark and brooding? Complete with clouds of gloom.
Or here, bright and light!
Flaky, buttery pastries always play a role in decompressing-slash-stress-eating. And if they shoot pretty, like the gorgeous specimen above, even better.
I come upon this quote that makes me laugh: “Give me coffee to change the things I can and wine to accept those I cannot.” Too true. But I’ll always love my coffee, and my good coffee photos.
How do you blow off stress?