Since my last post dealt with realizing the amount of physical pain that can come along with stress, I had better follow-up with talking about the stillness that can come following acceptance.
It was not easy for me to grab onto the diagnosis of stress induced nerve damage, it’s not something that is frequently talked about and I had never really heard of it before. I figured I had two options, shut up and deal with it or argue. Since I have been searching for three years for the cause of my symptoms I decided I will just shut up and deal, starting with some positive life changes.
I sat down to make a list of things that I thought would help to alleviate some of the stress, but these had to be things that I could actually control. Of course I would love to say, erase all debt and make me pain free…There! done! stress gone. That list is the pretend list cause those things are out of my control. Yes I can work on my lowering my debt but erasing it all is a complete fantasy. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with a long list of things to start with so I wrote just a couple and within a weeks time I have been able to make those changes. The first was to get extra rest. I decided to make a cut off time every night where I would sit down, decompress and relax. I would do this with enough time before I actually went up to bed so that once I was ready to sleep, the thoughts of my day would be done and my mind would be able to rest. I ended up sleeping 12 hours two nights in a row! I changed my schedule only slightly, doing some of my weekend morning things in the evening, so that if my body wanted to sleep in I would not be missing anything I needed to do.
The second item was to work on changing my thoughts when they drifted to a place that would cause me anxiety. This meant any anxious thought that popped into my head at any time. I knew this would be more difficult than the first item would be and would take more effort on my part. With comments from my counselor we agreed that when these moments came I needed to first take a deep breath to settle myself, then figure out what caused the thoughts. What was I doing in that moment that prompted it? Once I have that information, decide is this something I need to be doing, if not then it would be the last time, but if it is then what do I need to do in order to complete that task without raising my stress level? So far so good that part is going to take some training but I am confident that I learn to master it.
All in all I would say I had a productive week and completed my first step to learning how to alleviate stress that is in my life and/or caused by life. We will never be totally free of stress and I can attest to the fact that traumatic events will cause stress to linger a lot longer than we ever thought possible. Learning how to cope so that it does not get to the point of causing us physical harm is vital to our wellbeing.
Do you have any suggestions on being calm, cool and collected when surviving stress? Please share.