Is there another word in the English language that is used as often as the word stress? We use it to explain a bad hair day, physical pain, relationship problems, driving in traffic, a rotten day on the job, etc. Physicians often use that word to explain situations or conditions a patient may have when the doctor has no clue as to what is really going on. I hate it when that happens and always resent paying money when that is all I have when I leave the doctor’s office. Doesn’t happen to me very often now but it used to. We need a new word for all of life’s challenges, such as all those events that come along far more often than we would like, which interrupt what we had expected or planned. It is impossible to avoid stress in one’s life.
Stress has become the universal Snoopy Band-Aid for far too many areas of life. Well meaning friends and relatives coo it to us if we’re not feeling well, “Oh, you’re just stressed,” as if that will make our state of anxiety automatically disappear.
When true stress occurs, hormones are triggered by the hypothalamus after it is triggered by the brain. The stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline are released and we are ready to flee or fight. The heart then begins to pump more blood throughout the body. We can develop higher blood pressure, almost always a faster pulse rate and always, anxiety.
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “We can no longer eliminate stress in our lives than we can eliminate tension from our muscles. If muscle tension dropped to zero, we would fall to the ground in a shapeless heap. If all stress disappeared, we would not be alive.”
Dr. Weil goes on to state the benefits of stress by saying, “Stress is inherent in our interactions with the world around us and unless it is overwhelming, it keeps us growing and developing.”
Conflict, also known as stress is what keeps us entertained in a good book, a film or any story. That’s the first rule of writing fiction. There has to be conflict to make it interesting.
For many of us, when we first became ill, we mentally beat ourselves black and blue, trying to find out why we are ill. “Why me? Was I too stressed? Was this somehow my fault?” However, if we accepted pain, change and suffering without question we would be most unusual, don’t you think? That kind of stoicism it seems to me, should be questioned. There might be a fuse burning deep within that kind of individual that may one day go BOOM! If stress is inevitable for all of us, we need to face it. We need to learn how to live with it and perhaps, even learn how to use if for our own welfare.
When attempting to understand stress in our lives with illness and pain, we need to agree each of us react differently but in some ways, the same. All of us expect too much from ourselves. As our lives descend into illness or wounds from an injury, we still try to fulfill all our usual roles in life. Sick or well, we still strive to be responsible parents, loving spouses and helpful and enjoyable friends.
We have suddenly been faced with change. We chafe against change which we did not request, seek or welcome. Many of us chatter away, verbally or in our thoughts, questions, questions and more questions. We attempt to grab the scattered fragments of our existence as our lives splinter like a slow-motion picture of a shattering window. There it is, life, falling away into tiny pieces while we watch from our pain filled perspective. It is as if we have become outsiders in our own lives. Blindsided by our own bodies, we are faced with a future which we can’t imagine, understand and also fear. Enough already, I’m getting stressed just talking about so much stress, time to move on.
A FEW IDEAS ON HOW TO LIVE WITH STRESS.
First of all, we need to avoid those factors which make this life even more filled with stress. This is different for each of us, but we can make a few generalizations. Caffeine and stimulants are contributors, not helpers. Most days we are surrounded by factors which are not peaceful, such as loud music, 24-hour news and often, our own negative behavior. We have to stop, look and listen to our own lives.
It helps to find your center. You can do this by standing tall, body aligned and breathing deeply. Reach up and try to touch the ceiling. Impossible at our house, with 14-foot ceilings but trying is the important part. Stretch, breathe, live. You can practice yoga, meditation or whatever works for you. You can escape to a hot sudsy bath. Lavender bath salts are very relaxing. A hot shower also works but is not quite as relaxing. Heat forces painful tensions to leave the body. You might have a favorite chair, view, porch or book that relaxes you. You might gain comfort by reading the Bible. The point is to relax, release your worries and let your troubled mind and body rest.
We have to get out of bed. I know and I understand. I like escaping under the covers as much as you do but…Movement is essential, whether it be stretches, exercise or just fiddling around your home with a chore or two. We can’t lie down all the time, even if we want to. The human body is made to move. As an RN, I have too often seen the effects of being too sedentary. Life piles up around us and it is still up to us to not give up and give in but to move whatever parts of our bodies we can move. Doing something productive, as small as it may be, is also rewarding. We need to feel that feeling of accomplishment in our lives every day. Some days it may be a small something but it is still rewarding. Those colored stretchy bands are great for stretching routines for those of us who can no longer be terribly active. Just remember, any muscles that are not used, will die. Muscles are like our minds and have to be used to fulfill their function and stay on the straight and narrow.Move. That also would include getting out of those stinky pajamas, washing a day’s worth of dirt away and brushing your teeth. Nobody is going to notice? Not true because you do. Nope. A squirt of perfume or aftershave doesn’t count if that’s all you do.
Try to rid your life of clutter. We live in a small Victorian home and it becomes cluttered very easily. When it reaches critical mess…well, it isn’t a pretty sight. Just imagine the last antique shop you were in but worse. I get just as ugly because it bothers me. At least during Halloween season we can pretend that swinging spider on that huge web in the hallway is meant to be there as decor. Clutter all around me causes me to become frustrated, bitchy and unpleasant. It often helps each of us just to take on one cluttered drawer or cupboard. Get rid of the clutter as much as you can. Maybe it’s time to throw away that stack of three years of Good Housekeeping, Classic Cars, etc. Find an organization that might like them, or a church or library. Trash them if nothing else will do. Get rid of them. It might be time to also get rid of those old paint cans in the basement. Oh, basements. I’d best not go there as ours is chaos. Is yours? Sometimes you have to be ruthless with yourself or your spouse. A cluttered house can lead to a cluttered mind. I know, you don’t have to get nuts about it but try it, okay?
I recently asked my thirteen-year-old granddaughter if she wanted to earn some extra cash by cleaning the surface dirt in my house. She comes over after school one day a week and does a fine job of cleaning things I can no longer manage, like mopping, etc. She’s learning, showing pride in her work and has some extra money to spend. It also is a wonderful diversion for me as I look forward to having at least one time each week to visit with one of my grandchildren, one on one. I love it.
As Judy Garland used to sing, “FORGET YOUR TROUBLES, COME ON GET HAPPY.” Don’t forget to have fun. It can be as simple as playing with a pet, a child or a game with your spouse. Watch a good movie, lose yourself in a book but do not brood over the state of your life. If you have pets, you know they are always up for a bit of play with a ball, yarn or whatever you both enjoy. There are opportunities for fun all around us but sometimes we are too engrossed, too tired or too ill to take the time. It doesn’t have to be much, but try. Joy, laughter and anything to make yourself smile, these are God’s most precious gifts to us. Yesterday I saw a Mama deer and her fawn calmly strolling by, a tiny hummingbird drinking out of a flowering bud on a tall bush outside the bathroom window and laughed at many items shared by FB friends. Simply look, joy is there for the finding.
Give yourself away to others in any way you can. Call a friend, bake a batch of cookies to be shared, go out of your way for your better half or just spend some time praying for someone in need. Give to a charity, even a small amount but give of what you have, who you are and share any talents you have been given.
I hope this little walk through a life that prompts a bit too much stress helped you a bit as I think of each of and know the mountains you are called upon to climb. I also do, you know?
Wonderful and timely. Especially now with me. I wrote a nice long comment and it didn’t stay. So, I will just say how much I needed this
Such inspiration I need, along with prayer, tomake it through this stage of life. I hope to see a lot of comments and sharing with this one. Because it is through others struggles, I learn about my own.
Pray you are well.
Dearest Tonie, I can try to understand, and I pray for you because I have some idea of what is going on with your situation right now and then when we add your daily pain on top of so much activity in your family, oh my. Indeed, you know you do not have to bear it all alone but there is so much just plain physical labor involved for you, it’s a shame that can’t be shared. Running a small farm, family in need and your sweet husband still stuck in France, it’s too much. I’m glad you called it a stage because it surely will resolve and we have to be sure we can all help hold you up.
As if the health issues and the daily anxiety from that wasn’t enough, we each have these just plain irritating things happening. I’m waiting to see if my cancer labs go down in a couple of weeks and praying they do if that’s right for my life while we have had all sorts of domestic problems with the kitchen. Just plain irritating when these seemingly little things keep interfering in daily life. Hang in there my faith filled friend. Thanks again for your computer expertise in posting this blog for me after I finally got it to you yesterday. Much love, Sue
I love the phrase give yourself away to others ..that’s what I feel works for me.an honesty and truth to share with someone .without that a relationship with anyone is empty
What a lovely granddaughter to share and care for you and as well you know to enhance herself by doing so and that’s not just in cash…
Yes it is the maintenance of where we still want to be is the stress factor…..can it work in our favour..in your own time and speed is best
And as you say notice along the way what you might miss
Sometimes it’s good to see stuff through another’s eyes,a fresh perspective maybe
Chris, I am pleased you liked the blog. I have had a partito cularly stressful couple of weeks and since you’re not on FB with me you probably don’t know so let me fill you in. My tumor factors lab for cancer have gone up and that is a bit scary. Now we have to wait and see if they go down after a month which would prove it was just a fluke or on the other hand, my cancer is worse. Of course, I am anxious to know and very depressed about it until I thought about it and realized it is truly in God’s hands and there is nothing I can do about it. If they remain up I may have to change my treatment so we will see.
The other bit of aggravation I have is our broken oven. We bought a new stove and had to wait a month for it and had the old ones burners but no oven for that month. Finally, last Wed. the new stove was delivered late in the afternoon. I didn’t cook on the new stove that night but think it looks great. The next morning Jim was making me a cup of tea, the electric kettle is right next to the stove, and he hit his head while bending over and when he raised it back up he caught the edge of the over the stove hood/fan and knocked it down onto the new glass top stove and cracked the glass. It’s one of those freakish things that just happened. The hood had been up for two years.
Now we wait for a new glass top for the stove because we can’t use the burners on top with the glass cracked. That’s the source of most of my stress for the last couple of weeks. Waiting for life to get better. It will.
Hope life is better for you across the pond so they say. Love, Sue
I’m so so sad to hear of your results there and i am praying that all is well and it’s just one of those annoying flukes that happen
As for the stove …well you couldn’t make it happen….I hope that gets fixed soon with the top too..and how is Jim’s head as i know he is on warfarin.
I see the blog follows well on from your life at the moment and it is a month of waiting.
I’m thinking and praying for you in this current situation…..I hope the weather Is good at least so you can get out for a little time on that lovely porch there..such a great view
As always, timely and a good one, Sue. What a wonderful idea to have your GD help out with the cleaning! Good for both of you. I’ve responded to your news of body and appliance on Facebook so I won’t duplicate here. Sorry you have to experience the piling on. You know about our stove woes here. We have a new one ordered and it will be delivered on the 16th. Meanwhile, we still have use of our oven as well as slow cooker, microwave, Instant Pot, and old – and I mean OLD – electric fry pan that was my Mom’s. Oh, and the grill. We’ll do just fine, just have to be creative. Amazing how much we use our stovetops, isn’t it? The kitchen catastrophes continue. Poor DD was opening their refrigerator the other day and the door came off. They have it rigged so they can still use it, but it is not a long term fix. They also have an appliance on order now. Bad timing as her BF just started a new job and they don’t have the extra right now. Thankfully for both of us, there are currently sales on appliances. Currently, I am trying to ready myself for a little of that yoga you mentioned, then a shower. I am having 1 of 2 skin carcinomas removed this morning. This one, a basal cell. The 2nd will be removed in 2 weeks when the stitches from the 1st are removed. The 2nd is squamous. Small areas, but you know how our bodies react. I have a concert Friday, so I am hoping this reaction isn’t too extreme. Good old stress and our bodies. As in pretty much all areas of life, the key is balance. Time for me to start working on mine for the day. Blessings to everyone!
Lots of inspiring thoughts Sue. Thinking of you too. Alison
Alison, hope life is good for you right now. Good to enjoy hearing from you as ever. Healing well? Enjoyable the not so new residence? Hope so. Fondly, Sue
The countryside is so beautiful Sue. Definitely a good healthy place to be . Im doing well and have a holiday to look forward to in a couple of weeks. A first for many years and Simon is coming too. Thinking of you x
Lyn, good to hear from you after your wonderful trip to the shore with your friends. SO the old stove finally gave up the ghost and just about the time you were talking about a new on. Must have heard you. Well, ours is lovely to look at and we will find out, hopefully in about a week when the new black glass top arrives. The oven has a defrost feature which is new and I think would be good for some things.
Yes, I do have a wonderful little GD. She likes helping out and is good at it. She likes watering my plants as she gets those plant genes form both my DD and I. Sorry to hear about your daughter’s appliance trouble and oh yes, those items are so dreadfully expensive but the better quality usually last longer. Hope she’s doing well, otherwise. Love ya, Sue
Sue, DD caught some bug, but is otherwise doing well. You’ll love this one… last evening she had a patient come in with lacerations on his back and arm from a chainsaw! Now, I ask you, if you had lacs from a chainsaw would you go to an Urgent Care?? Why didn’t this guy get himself to the ER?!!! She said she left work at 10:20 (they close at 8), 40 stitches later.
Lyn,Yep, to the ER, although some folks who aren’t too bright might actually think urgent meant urgent, which of course it doesn’t in the case of the Urgent Care/clinic environment. Medicine is so interesting. Never a dull moment and just when you think you’re have a so, so evening that’s when something weird walks through the door.
Heard from my DD this morning and she is down with a bug as well. Jim and I finally got our flu shots at Walgreen’s yesterday, had to wait a half hour but glad it’s done. Dental chair for me for a full hour yesterday…yuk. Quiet day today hopefully. Sadie still following you around after missing you while on your trip? She’s such a sweet pup. Love, Sue
Chris, thanks so much for your prayers and concerns. Oh yes, gotta watch those stressors. I’m reading an English author right now I really enjoy, Rhys Bowen. Love to visit your beautiful country through fiction, Love, Sue
Alison, Your countryside does sound so very tranquil. Glad Simon is having a holiday with you. All sounds good. I’m happy for you and for him. Have fun…Sue
Good early morning all
Woke up and can’t go back to sleep. A story shared by most of us.
It has been so busy here this week. On top of all with the kids, we had a visitor for a couple of days. A family friend who is a Missionary in Japan. It was a nice surprise and a wonderful visit. The grands were fascinated by her stories.
Fall is arriving, finally. Not sure if I like it or not, lol. Went to see the ID Dr on Monday. Very nice man. Spoke about God almost immediately. He looked at all my tests and my symptoms. Told me essentially that the was no more to do. And that after a year, this is probably the best I am going to get. I said, “but God… he smiled and nodded. You find Him in the most unexpected places.
Sue, I sure hope your new stove top gets there soon. I know it must be aggravating trying to cook without it. Ya know I (and we) are praying for the removal of that cancer.
Lyn, sorry to hear you are experiencing some of Sue’s trauma as well. Take care and break a leg !
So, I am getting sleepy again, so will try to let it come. Have a wonderful Saturday all.
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Tonie, I am pleased you found a doctor who is a believer even though his news is not encouraging, but we must hope time will help. Wow what a week…you see how strong you truly are? Sometimes it’s hard being the strongest person in your own life, isn’t it. I am so thankful for you enormous faith and strength. Something always comes along in the way of growth, when we go through as much in life as you have in the past and the present.
It’s been a bit tricky cooking without a stove top. We have the new one. It came yesterday. My SIL got it for us in 7 days and the furniture store was going to take a month. We get it installed on Tuesday…Hurray. We only have the microwave. I haven’t had an electric skillet in years; since my last one sent the plug flying across the room when I turned it on the last time I used it. I don’t need a crock pot since I’m so housebound. Since you’ve been here you also know we have a relatively small amount of kitchen counter space. Soon, we’ll be okay Lord willing.
You can pray as you want to but I pray for God’s plan for my life to be played out in my fight with cancer. Love you much, Sue
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