I mentioned (okay, SHOUTED!) that our lives have been very stressful lately. To make a long story VERY short, our current rental in TX is a horrible situation (as close to living in a 3rd world country as I have ever been). Our escrow is proceeding, but has been full of some extremely costly surprises (to the tune of $22,000!). Our tenants have taken all of our kindness and seen it as weakness and have threatened to take all sorts of legal action against us (thankfully, due to the rental problems we’ve been having in TX, we are not only very familiar with the law, but also already have consulted with a lawyer!).
And then, last night as Jesse and I were discussing all of the craziness listed above, we very clearly heard gunfire outside on the street, not too far from our front door. And you know what? We actually started laughing because it seemed so very fitting that there would be actual sound effects for the tragedy play that is our life right now. (And, lest you think we’ve completely lost our minds, the gunfire did, in fact, worry us, and we called 9-1-1-. Can’t wait to be out of here!)
My body does not handle stress well. I became aware of this back when our foster care situation got life-threatening and out of hand. I discovered that my body “somitisizes” stress, which means that my nervous system ceases to communicate with my brain and takes on a life of it’s own. This means that even if the immediate “threat” is gone, or, even if it’s of minor proportions, my nervous system is already in such a heightened state that I remain in “fight or flight” mode. All. The. Time. I become very nauseous, like a fist is clenching my stomach. I get ulcers. I shake at random times, as though I’m about to perform onstage. I don’t hear people right next to me unless they shout urgently. My body remains ready to handle crisis at all times, and I can’t fully calm down, no matter how hard I try!
How do I know all this? Well, things got so bad with all of my food allergies (fight or flight mode makes the body think that certain foods are harmful, mimicking a food allergy) that I finally saw a specialized doctor. Through treatment and supplements, I’m finally managing my autoimmune issues! I have already been able to add several foods back into my diet (not gluten, milk, potatoes or chocolate yet…but eventually I will!).
Such specialized and helpful treatment is expensive, however. I am just fortunate enough that my doctor and his family are also dear friends from church who were willing to “trade” services with me for music lessons.
But I do have a few other coping mechanisms for handling stress that I thought I’d share, in case anyone else suffers too on a day to day basis!
1. Calming Tea: This stuff from Yogi is the BOMB. The lavender/chamomile combination really helps.
2. Wine. Duh. As the saying goes, “Coffee to change the things I can change, Wine to accept the things I can’t”. Sadly, however, if you get ulcers like I do, coffee and wine are acidic and can make the problem worse. I also avoid tomatoes and citrus fruits.
3. Essential Oils: DoTerra has a blend called, “Balance”, made from Spruce Leaf, Frankincense, Blue Tansy, and Blue Chamomile . The moment I start to “freak out”, I rub it on my feet and up and down my spine. I feel almost instant anxiety relief! It smells woodsy, almost like Big Sur!
4. Heat: A warm blanket or shower do wonders for the nervous system! I missed this one the most when we didn’t have hot water for 3 months (yeah, did I mention we have landlord issues here in TX?).
5. The RIGHT foods: I know that some people turn to comfort foods when the going gets rough, but I’ve found that sugar and carbs make me feel a whole lot worse a few hours later. But if I eat a HUGE serving of protein? It actually gets to the source of some of the problem, since I often forget to eat the right things when I’m stressed. I know that oftentimes when people get busy, proper nutrition is the first thing to go out the window. Many people eat a lot of fast food when they are stressed out, not realizing that the wrong foods will only cloud their thinking and lower their energy, effectively perpetuating the problem!
6. Watching movies with a kick-A heroine (or hero): Lately, I’ve found that if I watch a move where the main character is overly competent, possibly with super-human abilities, I feel better somehow, as though I’m channeling their strength. Is this just me? Please tell me I’m not alone 🙂
7. Prayer: This may not apply or make sense to you if you do not ascribe to any particular religion, but certain scientific studies show that prayer significantly lowers blood pressure. I know that it definitely does for me (which isn’t the real reason why I do it, but still, people, it works). Prayer always reminds me of what’s important and widens my scope, turning my focus away from just me and my problems, especially since Orthodox daily prayers mention the entire world and everyone in it in a variety of ways.
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