Managing stress

I have suffered with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for over 25 years now, it was only in the later years of my life did I discover how stress played its part and what I had to do to manage it. Back in the day, before I became a freelance illustrator I would use art as a hobby and stress only existed in moments born out of frustration, frustration I felt because OCD was limiting my life in certain areas. Small easy tasks became hard and I was angry that I could not achieve what others were achieving.

When I felt stressed it really would disable me and any plans I had in motion for a typical day would literally stop dead in their tracks too. l never really had the ability to "switch of", "relax" and “refocus". How could I when my Pure O was always finding something for me to ruminate about?

So how did I cope with stress? I remember one afternoon a few years back I was really struggling to finish a portrait, the more I obsessed the more stressed I got. Eventually I had to call it quits. I walked away from the art board and took a rest. I took a few deep breaths and retraced visually where I was going wrong, where the trigger was and what I was feeling at the time.

In conclusion I found that I was creating my own stress because I was pushing too hard, the harder I pushed myself and failed, the more OCD I would trigger and that in turn created more stress. My remedy was to limit the stress, not by avoiding daily tasks but trying to keep them to a minimum or pace myself and then simply break away from them and return to them later, also at the same time trying to keep a calm environment around me.

My work assignments were now broken down into stages, so I began to create "cut off points". This created a new way of working that literally reduced the stress but still allowed me to create and deliver my commissioned works. A change had been put in place, health came first then an easy work environment. We often get trapped in negative emotional cycles and these we have to break so we can feel better but still enjoy the work we do, and also relax away from it. It was a big learning curve but I now know my personal strengths and weaknesses, what I can and cannot do. When you have learned these you never forget them.



- Be mindful

- Create calm and peace where you work

- Know how your stress works and affects you

- Don't be afraid to say no to potential stressful situations

Kirk Stacey

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