Health, Life, Observations

Moving Towards A More Practical Stress Management Pt 1

Stress… lately a lot of it has been floating around. And I’m no exception, for reasons personal, professional, family and health issues. Life is a challenge, and when I look at the options for managing it a lot of them are…..

Identifying The Issues with Current Advice for Stress Management

They sound reasonable at first but when you dive into what they actually mean, they become hard to adhere to once you are already in bed with the problem. Particularly, if you happen to be anything other than 100% healthy when you start trying to take this advice. So lets start with the

Simple Sounding Advice

Take care of your body. You’ll feel better when you feel better

Eat better. Only whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean protein and nutritionally dense foods.

Exercise at least 30 min of cardio a day

Sleep better

Mindfulness/ Gratitude Mindset

Complicated Reality

Thanks, I’m trying to do that. But with chronic health conditions it can be hard to just to deal with core functions.

Healthy food is expensive, and we don’t actually really get lessons in how to use them in ways that are good for us. Also, for may people junk food is a coping mechanism. Taking it away willingly is like telling an addict to just stop.

I don’t know if you have noticed… but the gym is off limits to all but the stupidest of us right now. And with health issues already, exercise can be a mixed blessing at best.

Yeah, do you know what stress hormones do to sleep? Telling me to do the thing that I can’t do because it will help me to not have the thing that is making it hard for me to not do the thing is…. circular

I am so sick of this being treated like a catch all. Often life is objectively bad and being aware or grateful will not help. It wont change the fact that health problems exist. It won’t bring my dog back. It won’t make pain go away. And by the way this “advice” is very poorly studied indeed.

So yeah… maybe we need a little bit more guidance about what do. Some practical stress management. Here is what I am proposing as a start to practical stress management.

Step One: Identify and Name Your Problems

I know, I know it sounds like hell to write out a list of your problems and own them all at once. And for those of you with more serious (or triggering) issues this may be something that you do with the help of a mental health provider. And as a caveat, I would like to say that the use of serious here is not on an objective scale, its based on how you feel about it. Two people can have the same issues and feel very differently about them and no one is wrong. But naming things seems to be seen as a powerful act in our collective understanding of the world. Plus, it helps to direct our energies to what we should be working on.

So for me, the list of my causes of stress looks like this:

  • We had to put down our oldest dog last week to end his suffering. We’ve been on palliative care for two months, but knowing it was coming was only worse. This one comes with a few sub-issues. 1) Did I do the right things for him? 2) Did I neglect the other dogs while he was sick? 3) How do I help them be less sad about the loss of their brother? 4) How long do I have before I have to do this again with my other dogs? 5) I want him back, happy and healthy, but I know that cannot happen.
  • Economics, my job does not feel horribly stable right now. I have the disadvantage of being less stable than the people with tenure and much more expensive than the part timers. With things going the way that they are in the current economic downturn, I have what I think it a reasonable amount of concern that this time next year I will not be offered a renewal contract.
  • I’m trying to get out of buying a house. I made and offer and signed a contract and after inspections and estimates that did not go as well as hoped (plus issues with the qualities of the remedies offered in regards to my health issues) I would like to get out. I should be able to do so, but thus far everything is going slower than an ooze monster, and my lawyer will not even tell me what will happen if they refuse to sign the release papers. Honestly, I have a bad feeling about it. Until that is sorted, I can’t move forward with a better property. So I’m stuck in limbo on the most expensive thing I will ever buy.
  • My body is going haywire. Its day 9 of my period, which if you did not know is several days too long. I’m tired all the time and generally feel like crap. Two sub issues here 1) My gyno does not seem to care. They cannot see my for 10 days. No wait list to jump if someone cancels. They just don’t care at all. 2) My brain things its cancer. Unfun Fact! After having cancer your brain secretly thinks everything is cancer. Because having cancer is the factor that makes you most likely to get cancer in the future. (If you were curious, the second most likely is aging, so not exactly mitigable either) — Please note this is on top of some other, currently managed health issues that impact my daily life. I don’t want to get to much into them here.
  • Body issues. And I don’t just mean how I feel about it. I mean I seem to keep gaining weight no matter how much I do change my behaviors. Who switches out hot dogs/mac and cheese/ hamburgers for lunches for salad and Gains weight.

Step Two: What Can You Do About The Identified Issues?

Now, I’m not so innocent to think that you are going to be able to solve all of your problems. That would be remarkable and if you figure out how to do that… do let us all know. We are aiming for mitigation for our problems, to improve life incrementally and gain a sense of control. To keep this example train going lets talk about what I can do about my issues.

Dog Issues: Not much. I can’t bring him back. I can talk about it with people who also cared about him. As for the other dogs. Solving the attention issue and the guilt can both be working on by spending more time with them now. This is a great day for some extra tummy rubs, teasing with toys (don’t do this to a dog you do not know very well, or you could get bit) and time permitting a nice walk.

Economics: Invest in my job to the level of getting things done well. If I see opportunities to make a significant increase to my current value take them. Then spend the rest of my professional time on gaining new credentials (this is a great time to take an online class or sit a certification, since its not like I’m traveling) and doing some online networking. It may not stop me losing my job, but it will put me in the best position to get a new one as quickly as possible.

House: Wait. Not much else to do here. Make a worst case plan. What can I do if I do end up stuck with this home? How can I do health and safety repairs as inexpensively as possible? What can I DIY? If I’m still not comfortable living there what can I do to make the house flippable and not lose money in the deal? Its time to make a list and start looking up estimates online. Mold remediation is best left to the professionals, but tearing out the carpet and putting in wood is something we might be able to do.

Body Issues: The last two may actually be related. Make and keep the gyno appointment, but in the meantime its time to call my primary doctor. She can get the ball rolling faster and even if she cannot identify the problem from initial stages (e.g.- blood work) we might be able to rule some things in/out to reduce the number steps we are doing at the gyno and the wait times for them. And who knows, maybe she will just find and be able to solve the issue while I am waiting for the other appointment. Maybe also find an app to help you with the weight loss and identifying issues with food patterns.

Do this for your issues. Note that I did not look to have a blanket solution for everything, these are small, practical, steps to improving life. If you go all pie in the sky, you won’t get it done and you’ll feel bad that you failed. Then you will do nothing. These are small steps and that is not only okay, but it is the goal. We want to move at a reasonable pace.

There is more to talk about, but this post has gotten much longer than even I anticipated. So lets tack a part one on this and add the rest to another post, just so I don’t wear either of us out. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Moving Towards A More Practical Stress Management Pt 1”

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