If you don’t think anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.” – Kris Carr
I just love this quote by Kris Carr, author of the documentary “Crazy Sexy Cancer.” I think all of us know that stress is not helpful to us in our lives, whether we live with an illness or not. I am always amazed by people I meet who say they thrive in stressful situations. I always want to call them out on that statement. Although they might be productive at getting tasks checked off on their to-do list, other areas of their lives are suffering. No one can do it all, at the same time. Health suffers as well as relationships with self and others.
Although stress is something I can preach against, it is a necessary evil in today’s modern world. Anytime we connect with the world, stress is created. I have found myself really affected by this lately, even though I know how detrimental it is for me. Stress is something that feels like a spiral to me. I don’t always catch it at the beginning and then it advances at a frightening speed to a dark place. Unfortunately that is where I find myself as I write this blog entry.
The spiral of stress feels like an actual physical presence to me. I get a strange taste in my mouth from it, almost metallic. My vision gets blurry and unfocused and it feels like a heavy weight on my body. My voice changes in tone and cadence. Some people get stomach issues. Some talk excessively and some hole up and isolate. I can do both. It feels like a race that I am never winning. The frantic energy that comes with chronic stress can be debilitating. There is a difference from stress that is periodic and short lasting, like planning for Christmas, and the prolonged stress that happens over time, especially if we do not deal with it or have coping strategies to help us find some peace.
I have found lately that I have resorted to my standard answer when people ask how I am by saying “I’m good.” That is not true right now. I feel torn in many directions and feel afraid that one of the balls I am juggling will drop. The unfortunate thing is that no one is putting this stress on me. It is all my doing. I realized recently that I am not sleeping well. I wake up every night and stay awake worrying for an hour and a half or so about everything and anything. Did my husband put out the garbage? Did my dog eat all of his food? Did I send out an email to everyone I was supposed to? The frustrating thing is that even if the answer to any of those questions is no, the world will not end. I get over focused on things and cannot stop thinking about them. I have still been doing all of the things I normally do to stay healthy. Getting outside, eating healthy meals, morning meditation, writing, taking supplements. The whole nine yards. However, there are some times when we need to bring in the big guns. Or sometimes develop new guns. When the spiral seems overwhelming, we often have to go back to the drawing board and develop a new plan of attack. An attack is what chronic stress and anxiety can feel like.
The other day after a crying breakdown, my husband helped me come up with a new game plan. I will continue to do all of my self care items. However, I will be adding in some new things.
- I will take feedback from my family on when I am spiralling. They can tell more than I can sometimes.
- Add magnesium supplement before bed as it aids with sleep.
- Going to do a grounding meditation before bed.
- No screen time for an hour before bed.
- Some art time in the evening.
- A pharmaceutical sleep aid before bed.
- CBD oil before bed.
Last night was my first night attempting this new plan of attack on the spiral. This morning, good news. I slept throughout the night! This does not mean that tonight will be the same, but I feel like I am on a brighter path. Winter is always a tough time for me. The darker days suck my energy from me. I think many people feel the same at this time of year. For me, I need to be really rigid with my boundaries during these months. It is not fun, but that is the reality for me.
Life is hard and has dark spots in it. Do all you can to fight to find the light. For me, that is spending time with family and friends, listening to music and being creative. The trick is stopping the spiral before it picks up too much speed. You are all strong and resilient and will get through all life throws at you. Simplify life and minimize things that drain your energy and light.