Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On Stress

I've been thinking a lot lately about living with stress. I have had some changes in my life that have left me feeling stressed out, all the time. It's not a "bad" stress, by which I mean, things are going well! My stress isn't due to things going badly. But it's stressful to take on more responsibilities and learn new things. Keeping track of all I have to do is a real juggling act.

I dropped one of the balls recently (a small one - not a big deal) and was accused of having a blonde moment. I guess if you're not a blonde you never forget anything? LUCKY!

ANYway, I digress. Living with stress. I talked to my doctor about it yesterday when I was in his office for a checkup. I asked him for tips on living with stress. He said that one of the things people who are very stressed neglect is self care - ie, getting enough sleep, spending time with friends and family, cultivating faith and spirituality, pursuing hobbies, and so on.

As he was saying this, I guiltily thought back to a lunch I had at work last week that consisted of a bag of Doritos and a diet Coke. I also thought about how I've been neglecting a lot of dear friends because I feel so drained when I get home from work that I let the Netflix wash over me. I thought about how I hardly slept at all last week then on the weekend, slept for 15 hours straight.

I don't mean to make it sound like I am any more stressed out than any of you. I know when someone talks about how stressed they are, it brings out people's competitive nature. You're stressed too, I'm sure. That's why I thought I'd write a little post about dealing with stress.

My dr. has a lot of elderly patients, including my grandma. He told me that when he saw her recently, she was lucid at first, but got confused after a few minutes. We talked about her for a bit, then dementia in general. I told him about a study I'd heard once that was done with a group of elderly people with Alzheimer's and dementia. One of the groups was shown a funny movie and the other was shown a sad movie. Later in afternoon, after they'd forgotten they'd seen a movie, they were asked how they felt. The group who'd seen the funny movie felt happy. The group who'd seen the sad movie felt sad. Neither group knew why they felt that way.  But the feelings generated by the movies they'd seen lingered.

My dr. mentioned that this study could apply to my situation as well. Expose myself to happy situations - doing the things I enjoy, spending time with friends and family, reading funny books, watching funny shows - and the happy feelings will stay with me.

It wasn't the first time I'd thought of this. When I heard the study, I thought the same thing. But it's so easy to forget, isn't it?

So last night, when I got home I worked on something that needed to be done, but I did it in a creative way, while watching a funny tv show (the Goldbergs on DVD - SO funny). And this morning, even though I had a busy, stressful day ahead of me, I felt happier.

How do you deal with stress?

Full disclosure: I had a bag of Doritos and a diet Coke while writing this post. It's a process.


Frannie said...

First of all, how does that kid move like that?!? Secondly, I deal with stress is two VERY opposing ways...naps or exercise. Certain types of stress call for one, others for the other. Both are effective for me! Also, self-care...I *highly* recommend regular massage's totally worth it, and can fit into any budget with some finagling!

violet50 said...

You and your doritos and diet Coke. :) I can't sleep when I'm stressed out. I have to escape into a movie or a good book, so that it pushes my stressors out of my conscious mind. Then I can relax. Chocolate doesn't hurt. I liked your post because I know that as a mother, and now as a caretaker of my mother, I have often put my needs last and suffered for it. You can't let yourself feel guilty for taking care of yourself.

Sara said...

Some combo of naps/good sleep and doing fun things, often with friends, works for me. Exercise helps too though I do that in spurts and consider it more of a "fun thing" to ride my bike or go to a yoga class. As for work stress, last year I start a journal just for short entries about what was bugging me at work. It helped get it out of my brain so I didn't obsess so much, since that is draining.

heather said...

That Alzheimers study is very interesting! I will have to keep that in mind next time I'm feeling blue.

Meet the Goldbergs turned out SO MUCH BETTER than I was thinking it was going to be! Such a great/funny show!

Nancy Face said...

My mama suffers from dementia, so I was pretty amazed about the happy movie/ sad movie study! :)