Photography task: Something blue
Location: Kadriorg, Estonia
Camera setting: Portrait
When growing up there was a period when I thought there was something very much wrong with me. I’ve always been very tough and able to get through all sorts of difficult situations and to thrive against impossible odds. But at the same time I have always had a temperament, which I like to refer to as Southern-European:
When I get upset it’s all stops off, I fall apart loud and clear! And when I’m happy or proud of something I will make sure everybody is aware of it!
So, growing up in a country where showing ones emotions publicly was not acceptable (I say was because I think the situation has improved since then) presented some imminent problems. Mainly just self-esteem issues “Why am I so different, what’s wrong with me?”-sort of stuff.
It’s always been very easy for me to see people for exactly who they are, despite all pretense. I also feel very strongly, my own joys or troubles but for other people as well; when my friend is over the moon-happy, it makes me incredibly happy too. Or contrarily, when someone close to me is falling apart, I feel very deep sadness, stress and would do anything to help them.
Particularly negative feelings cause actual physical reactions; when I’m stressed out it can cause stomach ache or even fever. My pulse is often racing so fast and hard that I can’t sleep. Once I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack but thankfully it turned out to be just stress.
Of course I also feel happiness strongly but unfortunately those physical reactions – elation and “lightness of heart” – are not quite as strong.
I’m very sensitive to all kinds of stimulus and small everyday things. For example weather affects my well-being a lot: on sunny days I’m full of energy, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t do and I also get a lot done. Whereas during rainy and cloudy days I can be so tired that I can’t operate at all.
I got very solid proof of the effects weather has on me when I moved from Slovakia to Estonia. The super-energetic and happy girl suddenly became a sad shadow of herself and nothing but a bundle of stress when she moved from sunshine all year round to nothing but rain and clouds month after month.
Having always been aware of the effects that even the little things in life have on me I’ve sometimes found myself thinking whether it’s all normal or not. But in recent years sensitivity as a personality trait has become more widely recognized. It’s not a disorder, it’s just a way that 15-20% of the worlds population are. Wikipedia explains:
“Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a personality trait characterized by a high level of sensitivity to external stimuli. The trait tends to correlate with a greater depth of cognitive processing and high emotional reactivity.”
Rings a bell.
Being so exposed to all kinds of stimulus I’ve had to come up with ways to cope in situations that I can’t do anything about, biggest problem being weather. Here are some ways which I put into practice when weather gets me down.
Music is always my solution for any situation! It’s a universal language that portrays amazing emotions in the most beautiful manner. If I feel sad I would never put on depressing music. The stupidest thing you could do is to put on some slow, sad music when you’re already feeling low. It will only make things worse. Instead I put on something cheery or chill.
Music is the best way to wake me up if I’m stuck in my own head and the best way to also keep me awake and active.
It took a while but eventually I learned to be kinder to myself and that has made me a happier person. When weather is shit and I feel like I just can’t concentrate on anything or shake off this gloomy cloud I tell myself it’s fine. Have a lazier day, do what you are able to but absolutely no more.
I’ve realized that we can all afford to think like that because that state of incapability is always temporary. By allowing yourself to take it easy one day you ensure that you’ll be much better the next day.
The important thing to remember is that there is no job so important on this planet that you should compromise your own well-being for it! Even if you’re working in a project-related position, the work CAN, and sometimes must, wait.
I’m an extrovert and I need human interaction preferably as often as possible. Especially on rainy, dark, gloomy days just the fact that I have people to talk with at the office helps. They might not be able to help me get any work done but at least they can take me out of the coma for as long as we’re chatting about weekend plans and such.
Or just a hug would do. Socializing doesn’t always need to mean blabbing around. After all, what would make a day better than a hug from someone you love?
When I’m particularly deep in the weather coma I put on some (British) stand-up comedy on Youtube. These Live at the Apollo episodes are my absolute rescue for any gloomy day and they work every single time! Again, they cannot make me get any work done but laughing is the ultimate cure when feeling low and that’s why humour is my no.1 go-to tactic on difficult days.