Have you noticed some people are comfortable with unsolved problems? They may be embroiled in a conflict or a preventable issue, and their solution is within arms reach, but they just won’t grab it. You know, solutions like, just say you’re sorry. Or, just stop driving so fast, and you won’t get any more speeding tickets. I know, I know, life isn’t always that simple. But, sometimes it is, we just decide to make it more complicated.
I don’t rest easy with unsolved problems. I have to at least TRY to find a solution. I’ve told you before, I’m not always that good at it, but the effort is definitely there. Lately, one of my biggest problems is stress. Do you know that caregivers are more likely to get diseases, and more likely to become depressed? The other day someone told me about a husband who’s wife was dying of cancer. The husband was stealing his wife’s prescription pain relievers for himself. I know, that is unbearably cruel and absurd. Who would do something like that?
That husband may have been a life long addict and a total jerk from the start. I don’t know. But, I couldn’t help wondering if his habit started with a need to escape the stress of worry and caring for someone who needed more than he felt capable of giving. That poor guy is a terrible problem solver, worse than me for sure.
So, back to the problem of stress. It’s real. I am totally convinced that people should NOT ignore their bodies’ response to unusually high amounts of stress for an extended period of time. If they do, that stress will manifest itself in physical illness, depression, or what appears to be a chronically bad personality. This stuff can’t be ignored.
This week I was in the middle of my work day, and I felt some sort of pressure building. I didn’t know what the exact problem was. I thought I may need a good cry, but I was exhausted too. Maybe I just needed a nap. At any rate, I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep working, and I contemplated taking the afternoon off as a sick day. I have not taken very many sick days in my working life, and the thought of doing so stressed me out even more.
Suddenly, I had the idea that I may need a massage. I have had about 10 massages in my lifetime. I like them a lot, but they are certainly not accounted for in the family budget; neither are long stays at mental institutions, so I thought I could splurge.
Problem. Solved. WOW!!!! I told the masseuse that I was under a lot of stress. Sick kid, blah, blah, blah. She said she knew how to help, and she did. She spent some time shaking my joints. I thought I might tell her that seemed a little weird, but when I went into a relaxed coma I thought I could just tell her later. Was she trying to improve circulation? I know that when you are in an extended crisis your body starts to feel locked up. So, I guess this joint shaking thing makes sense to me.
You and I both know that I really didn’t care what she was doing. She could have been throwing fairy dust in the air, waving the feather of a Dodo Bird over me and hopping around the table like a bunny as far as I’m concerned. I just care that it worked. When that massage was over, I felt renewed. I followed the massage up with drinking some peppermint tea and I felt like I could live to fight another day. I quickly made an appointment for Scott.
So, the massage makes it on to my list of ways to treat stress, but I need more. I need ideas that won’t take money or time that we do not have. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1. Cut the caffeine. (I am only considering this nonsense because I’m in a crisis.) Stress = Adrenaline. Adrenaline = Being Alert. Being Alert = Not Sleeping. Not Sleeping = More Stress.
2. Talk. (or blog) I know some really tough folks. They don’t complain, and they’d rather die than cry. There’s a slim chance I may have even married someone like that. Life can be especially tough on these guys. They’re not always in touch with their emotions, so they might assume they don’t have them. They have them. And, for good mental health we all have to identify how we’re feeling and find a way to sort it out. If we don’t, there’s a decent chance our emotions will implode in a way that won’t be good for us, or the people we love. No one said we had to carry on and be all dramatic about it, you know.
3. Laugh. I have a friend who I adore who keeps sending me funny stuff on Facebook. Did God tell her to do that? That really helps. I do NOT have a sophisticated sense of humor, either. My humor is right on par with a 13 – 16 year old boy. Just ask my 13 and 16 year-old-sons. We typically laugh at the same things. Scott shakes his head sometimes and wonders what he got himself into with me. Here’s something very profound that will change your life. It’s 6 seconds. I’ve watched it no less than 80 times:
You get it? You thought it was going to be a sappy poem or something, and then it just turned into something absurd? Because the girl at the end is hideous…society is hideous, not you, she was laughing…just forget it.
4. Gratitude Prayers I like to pray when I walk in the morning. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I am asking God for something for the 8 bazillionth (real number) time, it stirs up more anxiety. Lately I have been spending my entire prayer just thanking God for every random thing that comes through my mind. I’m thanking him for legs that work, the sound of leaves crunching under my feet, my dogs soft fur, the cold air giving me energy. This gratitude prayer is a powerful tool. I’d put it right up there with massage and recommend to everyone.
5. Break a sweat (in theory). My family will bust me on this one. They’ve watched me go from training for half marathons to being a serious, dialed-in dog walker. I’ve gotten plenty of grief over this from the fitness crazed fiends who live with me. They say my leisurely strolls are not likely to get my heart rate cranking high enough. Could someone please tell them that my odds of winning a wrestling state title are pretty slim, so I don’t need to act like I’m training for one? Lately I have added some sprints in here and there, just to sweat a little. It does have a calming affect, and keeps the yahoos off my back.
6. Eat Real Food. You do NOT want me to start blathering on about this. I have bored my family and extended family to tears on this subject. But, the truth is that some where, some how, we have tricked ourselves into believing that it is okay to eat stuff that is not food. Do you know that we put chemicals in our food that are banned in other countries? I would not jam bananas in my gas tank and expect my car to operate. Why do I think I can fuel my body with things that were not made for it? Following Laws of nature = optimal living. Fake food stresses my body out. Right now I can only permit things in my life that increase my ability to endure successfully. So, fake food, you are out.
I know all sorts of things now that I didn’t used know. I know these things because I have experienced them. One thing I know is that detoxification is a real thing. And, it helps. I would like to take a moment now to explain what toxins are and the process by which they are detoxified throughout the homosapien form that is the molecular structure of the atom by which your cells produce. Okay. I made that up. I’m losing interest in my own blog post, and when I lose interest I get silly. When I get silly I start jackin’ around. Sorry. Here are two things I am using to help me relax, detox tea and detox baths:
8. Faith – Feeling like things happen for a reason is an important part of my stress management program.
9. Friends – The good kind. The kind that bail you out of jail and take care of your family when you’ve gone on another week long bender. The kind that support you and tell you that getting a tattoo of your puppy on your arm IS a great idea, and not to listen to anyone who would tell you otherwise. See? Bored. I’m jackin’ around again. Let’s get this list over with already.
What I mean is that good friends are an important part of reducing stress. Good friends are the ones who don’t keep track of who called last. It is relaxing to be in the presence of good friends. It should feel like no effort at all. I think I am blessed to only have good friends. I for sure have more than I deserve.
I know I have friends with a wide variety of belief systems. I respect all my friends and their beliefs. Do you want to know the truth? I have no interest in trying to convince anyone of anything. That sounds stressful. Remember, I’m trying to stay away from stress? I really just want to tell an honest story. I have no power to do more than that. I’m sorry if I come off preachy sometimes. Thanks for sticking with me in spite of it.
Here is the preachy part. Did you know that God told us that we are designed for worship? Music is a form of worship. I don’t know how Scientists explain the hair standing up on the back of my neck when I hear certain music, or the peace that settles into my heart. Those are real things that happen to me. Certain music makes me feel close to God, and a lot of us need to feel close to God when we’re trying to navigate troubled waters. When this song comes on the radio, I have to close my eyes and worship. Unless I’m driving; that would be one way to LITERALLY put myself in God’s presence. When this song is over I have experienced a little renewal.
You’re a gem for making it through all that. These are my current strategies for keeping upright while carrying a load that feels too heavy. I would be very interested to hear about yours.