anchors

A really quality mental health professional introduced me to the concept of anchors. Anchors are the things you work into your life to keep you feeling healthy, grounded and sane.

There can be anchors in your routine, like taking twenty quiet minutes for breakfast by candlelight each morning. They can be endorphin-releasing anchors, like taking a jog three times a week. They can also be human anchors: your best friend is your anchor when you can call her about anything from being scared to take hot yoga to getting dumped (my best friend is an anchor to the fullest).

There are, of course, also maladaptive anchors. Your booze, your processed carbs, your drunk making out. Your restrictive eating, your controlling relationships. Your hours of mind numbing tv. Your self-abuse.

The funny thing for me is that I recently had an experience of having an anchor and not realizing it until losing him was imminent. No, this is not going to be a big breakup confession. Fortunately Steve and I are still very much together and he is still very anchor-y. However, my work anchor, Andrew, is dickishly hatefully inconsiderately selfishly meanly going to graduate school. Obviously I’m thrilled for him 🙂

The thing is, Andrew is the best work friend ever! We swap sarcastic jokes, we go for midday walks when we go stir crazy at our desks, we have lunch in the arboretum, we show each other hilarious Youtube videos (the most recent amazing one being Cats Annoyed By Dog Friendship, a gem worth seeing). We fill in for each other when we’re swamped with work and swap lesson plans. We also actually manage to have the occasional deep conversation, and have ended up discovering some rather eerie similarities about past life struggles. We discuss families, relationships, careers, priorities, etc.

Anyway, he’s leaving! I’m so sad! I am lucky enough to work with a lot of fun people around my age. But the truth of it is, I also often feel like the odd man out. I’m sort of some people’s boss (ugh, so weird). I’m in a long term thing whereas many people casually date. I much prefer dinner with friends (or classy afternoon tea!) to going out and hitting the Franklin Street bars- not that there’s anything wrong with that! We’re young!

Anyway, my shocking level of grief- yes, I think it’s fair to say that I’m mourning the loss of my work friend- reminds me of the importance of deliberately creating anchors in my life. To that end, some ones on which I will try to focus in the coming months:

– Evening walks with Steve. The days have been hot and pollen-y lately, but the Carolina nights have been blissful. Getting out into them, and getting an endorphin rush, and having dreamy conversations with my cute boyfriend is something it’s really nice to do!

– Self expression. I tend to pride myself on my ability to work through things on my own and hold feelings in. The thing is, though, it’s actually a really sucky and lonely way of coping. I need to be better about sharing what I feeling. Even the little things, just as practice, just so I won’t end up waiting til I reach the moments where I’m so overwhelmed by painful feelings that even if I wanted to communicate about them I’d be too overwhelmed to do so.

– Time with animals. Do you know your brain releases oxytocin when you pet an animal? Doesn’t it kind of make sense? My friends brought home a miniature daschund puppy about a week ago. Yes, imagine how tiny that is. Yes. I have gone and visited her them about every other day since. I don’t really have the space (nor, to be honest, the will to be as responsible as I’d need to be) to get a pet. However, I want to continue to borrow my friends’.

– Blogging. I like having a creative outlet! I also like having a nice ritual to my day. I read an interesting post (and comment section) at SnackFace about the nature blogging has taken on, and it made me realize that the food blogs I enjoyed reading for many years have really started to suck lately (which may be a separate post). Wasting my nights vegetating in front of said blogs, and/or Netflix, is a shame. If I must veg out on my couch in front of a computer (as I am at this very moment, obviously), I might as well be expressing myself and getting some catharsis out of it.

– Weeknight dates with friends. Steve is really really good about this; he competes at a fun trivia night with his buddies every Wednesday. They eat junky food and talk about music and geography and other sometimes-silly topics and they get a nice mid-week pick me up. I want to be more meaningful about scheduling things mid-week, especially since there’s so much fun stuff going on now that winter is done.

The use of the word anchor is fascinating when you really get into it. We’re all delicate little boats on a big, complicated, often extremely powerful ocean. Is it possible that having routines and habits and friend visits and workouts and seemingly tiny little things can help shelter you from that ocean? I kind of suspect it more and more.

What are your anchors, friends? Thoughts welcomed and encouraged!

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3 thoughts on “anchors

  1. It is funny that you write about anchors because I use this concept constantly in my social work practice and I think it is such a wonderful metaphor. My biggest anchor is time listening to music. I spend a good 20 minutes each day immersing myself in music by sitting in my apartment or in my car or on a bench just enjoying the beautiful sounds :). Very grounding and helps me be reminded of the beauty and creativity that can come out of all of us humans!

  2. My dog is by far my biggest anchor. I adopted her a month into living in South Korea (totally wasn’t ready for the responsibility but I made it work). She was with me through some really dark times living in Korea for six years and she has been with me for the last 14ish months or so we’ve been back in the US. She’s been the only constant in my (former) expat life of revolving friends and instability.
    Music is another. 🙂
    I used to do trivia night every week with a group of friends but haven’t been able to nail down a good place for it here in Cincinnati.

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