So there was this moment somewhere in the last two months. A point where my heart and mind totally reached a breaking point. It was odd – after everything we’d been through, that then, at that moment I’d break.
That as we paid a hospital bill in full (thanks to everyone’s generosity, that we’ll never repay. Ever.), paid off a school loan only two weeks behind schedule (and yet 10 years earlier than necessary), and was released from physical therapy after a brain tumor was taken out of my husband’s head, I’d basically feel like I lost my mind.
But I think, because I had been going so strong – to just survive – for so long, I felt like it was time to start thriving again. Now that things were turning around, it was time to get my house put back together and cook a decent meal or two! I’ll be honest with you, though. I just didn’t feel it. I spent hours on the couch from being so exhausted – it didn’t matter how many hours of uninterrupted sleep I would get in a night.
My seven year old cooked breakfast and lunch for us girls for several weeks straight. My husband would come home from work and I’d retreat to a quiet place to read, sleep, or just chill with some old episodes of Downton Abby, while they played together in the other room.
After about 3 weeks of feeling lousier than ever, I took a visit to my doctor, who diagnosed me with a minor thyroid condition. (I say minor, because as bad as it was affecting me, it wasn’t a brain tumor, a poisonous snake bite, or a death sentence. Anything less than those seem minor to us.)
Because of the chronic physical and emotional stress my body had been under from three pregnancies, and then my husband’s surgery and the toil his recovery took on me, my body was “stuck” in stress mode. Unable to reset itself in a sense and regulate back to normal levels.
A change in diet, a change in schedule, and some hormone therapy drugs have majorly helped me. And though I’m far from being at my 100%, I’m getting closer every day.
Why do I say all of this?
Well, because for some people, they feel the same way – tired, defeated, irritable. Because of stress. Anything can be a stressor. It doesn’t have to be something big. I wasn’t aware of the toll it would take on me after the fact. But I am now. And I’m becoming keenly aware of seeing it in others.
In fact, I did this Poll the Audience thing on my Facebook page a couple days ago.
What is your biggest stressor and what is your biggest stress reliever?
The answers I got were nothing short of what I was expecting -
Health, money, security ranked in the top 3 stressors.
Every person stresses over something and every person has a special way of dealing with it.
And most everyone’s answers were different.
I used to think that I was strong enough to deal with whatever God sent me, but that was such a matter of disillusioned pride – and my reluctance to slow down and rest caused my own body and my family to suffer for it.
Here’s a few things I’ve done to eliminate unnecessary stresses in my life:
Listen to my Husband - He is the other person in our family who has a good idea of the spiritual and physical heartbeat and temperature of the members in our family, and he knew I was sick. His help, prayers, and loving advice and demands for rest were what snapped me into my new reality.
Communicate to my Children – Instead of making my sweet kids the poor, undeserving victims of my crazy emotional outbursts, I was able to sit down with them and let them know what was going on. They were so supportive.
List my Priorities – They were my relationship with God, my relationship and reactions with my immediate family members, homeschooling my girls, and keeping my contracted working commitments. Recognizing and writing down these important things made it quick and easy for me to see what wasn’t really necessary – and just filling up extra space (and consuming my small amounts of energy.)
(Brutally) Eliminate the Unnecessary - While it was painful to pass off some ministries at my church, and give up all my scrapbooking things, the stress and energy they cost weren’t worth what I was giving up on my list of priorities to get to them. And many times, I wasn’t even getting to them. But the mere *thought* of them were sending me to overwhelmed status. And yelling at my kids was not a price I was willing to pay for something that was trivial.
My kids aren’t involved in many extra activities besides church and music lessons. (All they wanna do is play at the park all day anyway.) And even then, we don’t push them too hard to participate in the AWANA-type program at our church either. Our family Bible memory and study plan are completely sufficient and all we can handle at the moment. This eliminates the stress of extra car rides throughout the week and haphazardly memorizing verses on the way to church during rush hour traffic.
While I look forward to getting back to some of those things eventually, I know now is not the season of my life to be going to every birthday party or every extra church function.
One of my stressors is clutter. And I had boxes of things I had cleared out – but was waiting for a good warm weekend to have a yard sale. I opted to donate those items instead of seeing them gathering dust in a bedroom corner for a couple more months. And the freedom I felt as I dropped off trunkload after trunkload at Goodwill was totally worth it.
One of my friends in a similar season of life was stressed over keeping her kitchen floor crumb free. Just the thought of sweeping under those kitchen chairs one more time would overwhelm her. So, she sold their kitchen table and chairs. It wasn’t worth the stress to her. She has since purchased a new table and chairs – but having that month or so break of easy sweeping and picnic dinners with her little ones was worth the sacrifice.
So with a little creativity and aggressiveness, I was able to eliminate some things to get my body and mind back on track. And just now this week, after almost a month of treating my chronically overtaxed endocrine system, I’m starting to see some major improvements.
Do any of you have any other stress relief tips for me? I’ll take ‘em!