When I was twelve years old my mother was shot and her boyfriend at the time was murdered. I was in the house and, although I didn’t see the actual shooting, it was a terrifying experience. From that day on I struggled with night terrors for more than 10 years. After the incident I was taken to a therapist (or some sort of licensed professional) who informed my family I was just fine (I was not fine). From there I was raised highly religious and told that if I never sinned (or at least tried not to), read the bible and prayed like crazy everything would take care of itself. God would be there for me; he would help me with anything I needed.
Neither therapy or church helped me cope with the symptoms of my PTSD during those early years of my life. I remember crying and expressing desperation and frustration to a high school boyfriend about my night terrors, ‘If this is what sleeping is like I never want to sleep again.’ I contemplated taking pills to numb out my mind because being numb was most definitely better than experiencing trauma night after night and never getting any real rest.
After years of exploring healthy ways to cope with not much success, I discovered creative stress reduction, put it into practice and over time found my night terrors become more and more rare.
What is creative stress reduction?
Personally, I define Creative Stress Reduction as an activity performed outside of traditional practices such as therapy, church and traditional meditation. Creative Stress Reduction helps each unique individual practicing it reduce stress or unwanted feelings such as anxiety and overwhelm. Some examples may include making art, working on a car, cleaning your house, knitting and, yes, even floating.
From personal experience and as a coach that helps people remedy burnout, stress and overwhelm in their careers, I know that one size does not fit all when it comes to releasing unwanted feelings. Often when things go awry in our lives, the people in our lives ask us if we have considered therapy, meditation or even heading back to church (sometimes these are the solutions called for), however I learned very quickly at a very young age that those solutions weren’t for me and as I grew up that they didn’t solely work for many others as well. I learned that pairing traditional methodologies such as therapy with a creative stress reduction practice makes all the difference in the wellbeing of myself, my clients and others.
My most recent creative stress reduction experience floating helped me recognize the speed in which my thoughts are running through my mind. My thoughts are moving at top speed-- ‘I need to do this, then I need to do that’ and so on and so forth--never truly slowing down to let my mind rest. In my last float session, the analogy came to me clear as day. (I often laugh because of the crazy analogies the float tank experience provide me time and time again…)
More often than not, my mind is like Wile E. Coyote from The Road Runner Show, a Looney Tunes cartoon. My mind keeps running, running, running. It’s keeping pace with my body throughout my workday as my eyes dart quickly across the screen reading emails and my fingers type swift responses. Then just as quickly as it started, the day is over and my bod
y is laying in bed, yet my mind is still moving at lightning speed… I feel grouchy, burnt out and exhausted. Why can’t my mind shut up so I can just get some real freaking sleep?!
It’s because my body is like the ground on which Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner run--at
the end the day my body needs rest--and my mind is like Wile E. Coyote, so busy running, running, running that the inertia of movement keeps me thinking even once my body has stopped. Hence, trouble sleeping or crappy sleep due stressmares.
Creative stress reduction, including floating, can help you recognize things within you that otherwise, with the hustle and bustle of your life, you may never even notice. Floating has helped me time and time again to remember I don’t always have to go so fast and take action to start slowing down my life. Those emails can wait.
Just imagine what would happen if Wile E. Coyote was walking toward that cliff instead of running...maybe, just maybe instead of falling off the cliff he would have instead enjoyed the spectacular view.
Through coaching and creative exercises, Carlee has helped hundreds of people across the country remedy burnout and build their dream career or business. Carlee specializes in employees who are wondering if a big career transition is right for them. These transitions can include but are not limited to promotions in and outside of the employee's current organization, transitioning industries or starting their very first company.