Stress – Just Breathe

I know I’m not alone in this.  Everyone would like to know how to manage stress. We are all working harder and longer. We are juggling more with less.  There are more distractions these days competing for our time and we are tired.  And stressed. I wish I had some magical potion, but I don’t.

I’m really struggling with stress right now.  I realize some of my issues of late are due to my prednisone taper and a faulty adrenal system, which are both causing me to be short-tempered and tired but it’s also just part of who I am. I expect a lot of myself and those around me.  I’ve been told countless times my standards are too high.  I don’t like asking for help because it’s just easier to do things myself, because I’m sure it won’t be done right anyway. I’m afraid to trust others will do what they promise, which causes me more stress.  And, lately, I have no patience at all.  None. For anything or anyone.  I mean, I’ve always had a low tolerance for crap, but lately that tolerance level is a big, fat NOPE.  I literally cannot deal with any of it.  If I could just keep my head down all day and not have to talk to people, that’d be great.  But, that’s just not realistic.  My doctor has shared some wonderful tips with me but I’m struggling to incorporate those into daily life.  Which is funny because I have been so quick to follow the healthy eating, supplements and exercise regimen she asked me to follow but just can’t seem to bring myself to do the breathing exercises, etc. she most recently recommended.  And why?  Do I enjoy being crabby? I certainly hope not. I’m actually a very nice person who genuinely cares about those around her.  A nurturer who wants to take care of her family and friends. So why then?  Have I not completely bought into all of this holistic healing?  Gosh I hope that isn’t it, because everything she’s had me do up to this point has been spot on and helped me immensely. Maybe it’s that change is hard.  It just is.  And adding one more thing to my daily routine is stressing me out to the point I’m just paralyzed and unable to help myself any further. And now I’m stressing about stress management, which causes me to beat myself up even more.  So, I got to thinking today. Maybe I just break it up into baby steps.  I tend to look at things, at challenges, as a whole and then freak out.  Remember those word problems in school?  There are those who just jump in and tackle them no problem and then there are the others who panic.  I panic.  My dad always said to just take things one step at a time.  So maybe that’s what I need to do.  I need to remember that I’ve already made it this far and take the remaining pieces one step at a time.  All I know is that I’m a prime candidate for needing to find a way to keep my stress in check since stress can play such a negative role in chronic illness, both as a result of your illness and an exacerbation of your symptoms. And with that I’ll share a few of the things my doctor suggested. Glean from it what you will.

  • Get plenty of sleep.  Sleep enough so you don’t need an alarm to wake up.  Avoid the TV, computer, cell phone use, etc. for at least one hour before bed.
  • Deep Breathing:  Dr. Andrew Weil’s breath work instructions and videos: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html Binaural 32 Brainwave Beats. This can help to calm the brain, lower stress, improve sleep, improve concentration and may also reduce pain.
  • Find something creative that you have always wanted to do.  She suggested reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron for suggestions
  • Journal each day
  • Acupuncture
  • Get out and be active
  • Talk to a therapist, a trusted family member or friend
  • Pray
  • Be kind to myself, repeat daily affirmations, celebrate accomplishments
  • Get up and move throughout the day.  Go outside and get fresh air
  • Yoga/meditation
  • Guided imagery

As for me, I don’t know what I’m going to start with first.  I’m trying to get more sleep and I run. But perhaps being kind to myself would probably be a good first start. I’m my worst critic.  Prayer should also be high up on my list.  Everyone certainly keeps telling me to pray. But, as I’ve said before, I’ve lost my ability to do so.  I’m still angry and I’m working on that.  I guess being aware is a positive step.  I know God is here for me and I know I have a lot to be thankful for, I’m just still struggling with the “why” and I need to work through that on my own terms, in my own way. Allowing others to help and realizing just because they didn’t do something as I would doesn’t make it wrong is also a step in the right direction. I have found that writing this blog has become a huge outlet for me.  And I thank you for reading and commenting and supporting me.  I’m amazed the number of people who actually want to hear what I have to say. When I started this blog, I had no idea anyone would be interested and now I have readers from as far away as Australia, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Aruba, etc.  One visitor said my words have been healing for her.  Well, they have been healing for me too.  This blog has become an important step for me as I work towards finding balance and peace in my life.

I propose we work on this together. Let us all take things one day at a time.  Slow things down a bit.  Enjoy the change in the seasons, take time to read a book or go for a walk or a run.  Just breathe.  And, with that, I want to close with one of my favorite quotes.  I don’t know who wrote it, but it is something I have taped to my printer. “Sometimes it’s ok if the only thing you did today was breathe.”

So, for today, just breathe.  It’s all going to be ok. We’ve got this.

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