I’ve had a really stressful couple weeks. I don’t just mean the pain, fatigue or myriad of other symptoms from my chronic illnesses. Just the every day stresses from life with 3 kids under 10, a spouse working long overtime hours and the mental dark cloud that surrounds an anxiety ridden SAD sufferer in the middle of winter. It’s a lot of little things that repetitively add up every single day.
The worst part is, if the stress isn’t dealt with it carries over. It effects sleep, it effects relaxation and it definitely effects the joint pain, headaches, indigestion, cramping, spasms, depression, anxiety etc.
Those of us who suffer from chronic illnesses need to find ways to relieve the small stressors so that they don’t become some big fat evil problems that put us in even more pain and misery.
I think of all the daily stress like Jenga.
The basic premise is the pieces start off as a pretty sturdy tower and slowly the players remove one piece at a time until one unlucky person pulls at the wrong place and the whole thing comes crashing down.
The issue we have is before other people/other stresses start taking turns and pulling out pieces, we already have a bunch missing. We can’t afford to lose as many as other people starting off each day with a full stack.
While in the game there really isn’t much you can do to stop the game play and save the tower from falling, eventually enough pieces will be gone and it will inevitably topple, in real life there are things we can do to at least attempt not falling apart.
This is my list of go-to de-stressors. Obviously it may differ from person to person and illness to illness but I figured I would share what helps me keep as sane as possible and get through each day whether it’s my worst or my best.
10 minutes alone in bed – This is how I require every morning to start, no exceptions (other than sleeping in….and having to rush breakfast and scarves hats and toques to get the kids to the bus on time whatever the cost). I have a set of physio stretches to do, but more importantly I get to think, plan and prepare mentally for the day. In peace. Uninterrupted.
Foods that fuel – while I would love to say that I could live off coffee, red wine and cotton candy it just isn’t so. I struggle with this one when I am under a lot of stress and my go to is either to not eat at all or to gorge on anything in sight that is full of sugar. Keeping a food diary not only helps me feel more in control of my body (by making sure I meet nutritional needs along with keeping track of possible food related intolerance). Planning ahead what I intend to eat eases stress and concentrating on healthy whole foods that I know don’t upset my digestive tract makes me worry less about future pain. It is a win win.
Music, music and more music – I plan on writing more about this in the future, simply because music is such a big part of who I am and what makes me tick but for now I’ll stick with this. The right music has an insane impact on how I feel, how I act and what I’m doing. Unlike Mr. Mango who feels like ALL METAL ALL THE TIME is the solution to any problem, I have a pretty darn eclectic mix of favorites and each different song/genre/artist plays their part in stress relief. From Disney to Disturbed, Sabbath to Simon and Garfunkel, Guns and Roses to Gaga. Music can make or break my day and the right tunes are a necessity.
Moving – It is far to easy especially when both the mental illness and physical illness symptoms both make an appearance to feel like giving up and huddling in the fetal position all day. It takes some sort of bad ass mama-jama will power some days to just get up off the couch but I do it. I know that moving around in any way my body will allow that day will pay off. Some days when my body cooperates and I’m not too fatigued I can manage a ‘real’ workout. Other day’s the best I can do is some physio stretches and walking to and from the bathroom. All I know is getting movement in helps me both physically and mentally. If there’s one thing I like least about having a flare it is not getting the stress relief from working up a sweat and moving enough.
Red red wine – (goes to my head, makes me forget….) see there I go with the music again. While I don’t condone or support people resorting to self medicating with alcohol, I do feel that at least for myself sometimes looking forward to that after dinner glass of wine is nothing to be ashamed of. Mr. Mango and I have been making wine for years and we have quite the passion for it. Not only does it taste good, feel good and have some pretty awesome anti oxidants but it’s a passionate hobby that even while I’ve been ill we’ve managed to keep up with. It’s not part of my every day evenings but it’s definitely something I find stress relieving to enjoy.
Intimacy – OK so I’m still getting my grounds here on WordPress and not about to start being graphic or raunchy (something that a long-time-ago previous blog might have been prone to) so in the interest of keeping it PG I’m just going to go ahead and call it that. I wish (even more than the red wine) that this was able to be a daily part of stress relief. It is not. Not even close…. but the effort is there. Even when it only goes as far as cuddling, talking and laughing it is great for stress relief and when, well it goes all the way…even better. Not only is it great for keeping Mr. Mango and I’s relationship going strong but mentally and chemically it is a great stress buster.
So there you have it. Of course there are more little things that impact the days in a good way or help relieve tension and stress but these are the main one’s I fall on to keep it at bay and focus on feeling the best I can.
What about you? Do you have any go-to techniques to de-stress and keep from tumbling over?