Random Thoughts: The But I’m Still Stressed Edition

Thanksgiving was so, so nice. Dan, the children, and I drove up to my parents’ house Thanksgiving Day. It was 60 degrees and sunny. While M napped (or, more accurately, chatted to himself in the pack-n-play), my parents took the girls to the park. Dan and I read and napped, respectively. For dinner it was just the seven of us. Kate had turkey.

My mom had spent time earlier in the week preparing and baking, so the actual day was not spent in the kitchen. God bless her. I roasted some beets. Which Kate also ate.

That night, after all the kids were in bed, we adults played a game and drank wine. It was really low-key and lovely, and my mom got up with the kids the next morning, so going to bed at midnight wasn’t that painful for me. (I’m telling you, if my parents are any indication, not only do you need less sleep as you age, but you can also drink more — not like get trashed, but have more than two glasses of wine — and still rise with the sun and/or the grandchildren at 7:30 a.m. It amazes me. Maybe they get to nap, more, too though. That’s a possibility.)

We drove back to Pittsburgh on Friday, and spent two days cleaning and otherwise preparing for the kids’ birthday party on Saturday.

This is the first year we combined the kids’ birthday parties. Between the holidays and birthdays, November through January are crazy with gifts and parties and travel. In order to cut down on travel and expense, I threw one party the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It went swimmingly — more than swimmingly. (I, personally, feel it was a stroke of genius. My husband has reservations still. It was a shitload of work for nearly three days, I’ll give him that. And, as happens when we clean the whole house, our office, once more, is trashed.)

The other thing that is sticking with me (aside from the loveliness of a small gathering on a holiday, and the success of the party) is that my mom worries about me and my stress. She made the point a couple of times: So much stress is bound to have physical consequences. I agree with her, but I’m not really sure what else to do.

I see a chiropractor once or twice a month to help with back and neck issues (she’s *awesome*).

My biggest stress reliever used to be exercise. And I don’t get exercise any more. I’m in terrible shape. (We’ve been over this.) I would love my workplace to install a gym. I wonder if I can make that happen. Believe me, it’s the only way I would get regular exercise. I cannot get up any earlier, and the thought of trying to add a workout to the end of my day — stresses me out.

I still read, about 20 to 30 minutes a night. That helps me wind down a lot. Sometimes I catch some TV. I usually have a beer or a glass of wine.

I also, almost daily, have a cigarette. (Outside.) (This is not going to help my mother’s peace of mind.) I’m not proud of this fact. I’m struggling with it (as with so many other things.) But it’s something I do to destress. (I know, ironic.)

I’m not really sure what’s next, what else to try to change, what I’m going to do in the long run for my health.

This is where I am.

14 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: The But I’m Still Stressed Edition

  1. Do you have the ability to work from home one or two days a week? Do you already do this? I found that once I started doing this – even one day – it helped TREMENDOUSLY. Just having peace and quiet in the home as you work with slippers on is wonderful. You can also start on laundry, start a home-cooked meal, and be surprisingly efficient since you feel the need to justify working from home to your employer. No commute time back and forth – it does make a huge difference. I don’t know if there is a possibility for you for this. I’ve been working at my company now for 8 – 9 years and feel like you need to have a track record with them to have them consider it, but every place is different.

    • I have been over this with my current employer, and also inquired about part-time hours. It’s been a been a big N-O. I think some work-place changes would really help, but there’s nothing I can do right now.

  2. Ugh, I’m right there with you, minus the reading and the chiropractor. Self-care is the biggest thing on my list for the new year.

    • Honestly, chiropractic reminds me to take care of my back by getting up and walking around when I’m at work. It’s a little thing, but it does help. Reading at the end of the day isn’t even negotiable!

  3. This week has been dreadful. Ever since Monday afternoon I’ve been thinking, “GOD I want a cigarette!” (Preferably one each of the “funky” and regular varieties.) AND I’VE NEVER SMOKED. I did hit the single-malt last night.

  4. I feel ya here; I’ve been there with stress. Something that helps me get my head on straight is differentiating between between being stressed and being hectic. Often I figure out that things are hectic – needing more hands, more time, more structure but I am not stressed which is a state of seriousness reserved for health issues, debt, job loss, etc. If I can count my blessings with those serious issues, I just need to breathe and pace myself through the other stuff. Is that oversimplifying?

    • …and another thing. How about these Dads of ours? It just cracks me up how they raised us compared to how they are a Pap Pap. I mean, come ON…is this the same guy that made me cry when I spilled my drink at the dinner table? Now if MY kids do the same thing, “oh don’t worry about it…she didn’t mean it…it’s FINE, no reason to yell”. Come to think of it, maybe we need to go to our parents to get the key to less stress. They act so much more laid-back these days then when we were the kids. What is their secret?

    • No, it’s not oversimplifying at all. Things will improve (for my mental status) once the #bathroomredo is done, too. I’ve been chipping away at “hectic”; results vary. And I count my blessings every day!

  5. I am with your mom on this one…we’ve talked about it and I have put my comments out there before…all because I love you very much and hate that you are struggling. Granted, we all struggle at times, and I am totally guilty of not being good at self care either…at least not exercise. But I am doing more things for myself like meeting friends for lunch on occasion and going grocery shopping BY MYSELF…while this is a weekly chore, it feels completely different when I go on my own. And there is going to be a yoga class in my near future. My hubby has been taking time to go work out at the Y and he is a MUCH happier person. One other thing that has helped me a lot recently is IRON supplements. A few months back my bloodwork showed a severe iron deficiency. It took time for me to get my levels back up, but I could totally feel the difference when I did. and I continue to take the supplements because I feel THAT much better! Cannot live without my iron and B-complex vitamins! When you are exhausted all the time, EVERYTHING is more stressful, you are more irritable, and little things get blown into BIG things very quickly. I felt silly because I dragged my ass around so tired for so long…I thought I just was a tired mom of 2 special needs kids working FT outside the home. I’m supposed to be tired and stressed out, right? I still get tired and stressed, but I don’t have that feeling when I wake up like “how am I going to get through THIS day”. I feel more rested (most nights), and happier, and feel like I have a better handle on things in general. I also take a very small dose of an antidepressant. Not a lot, but a little goes a long way.

    So get your iron and hemoglobin/hematocrit levels checked out. I found a gentle iron supplement that is easy on the gut…be happy to pass it along if you are interested. Find something you can do on a regular basis to de-stress…even just an hour a week. Take care of yourself RPM! I mean it 🙂 Hope to see you over Christmas ❤

    • Iron levels are good, as are cholesterol levels. Since the Great Canker Sore Outbreak of 2012, I have been taking my B vitamin supplement religiously. I’m just chipping away. I do have to get better about friend time. (we’ll be in Erie weekend *after* christmas! We’ll figure something out!)

  6. I hate computers. I just posted this and it reset and erased it instead of posting. Take two….
    Can you leave Dan with the kids for 10 minutes and walk around the block and THEN have the cigarette if you still want it? The relaxation effect of smoking is in the disconnection from the everyday and the deep breathing, not the nicotine. In fact, nicotine is actually activating, as it increases adrenaline, decreases blood supply to the brain and increases insulin production, so it actually makes you more anxious after you finish the cigarette.

    The same time spent in exercise or in mindfulness meditation is just as easy as a cigarette and has much more positive effects cognitively. Both will increase endorphin and serotonin production, regulate the sleep cycle and decrease chronic pain, as well as being protective factors against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. 45 minutes of meditation a day (for me I do 15 minutes 3 times a day, because all I had to do was five minutes each time to start and it was actually pretty easy to get in my schedule) will also decrease trait anxiety, decrease anger and hostility, increase grey matter volume, increase creativity and improve the interaction between the two frontal lobes. Can you tell I just wrote a presentation on this? If you need proof I can send you the slideshow…

    If it’s too cold to walk around the block walk around the house and look at the stars or do a few yoga poses. It’s not the gym that makes a difference, it’s just activity. We have turned exercise into another task to accomplish rather than a chance to appreciate our bodies and our world. I can send you a mindfulness CD and all you have to do is listen to it and breathe – I gave the same CD to one of the officers on my unit that was having serious issues with uncontrolled blood pressure and it has really helped him more than the medications did, and being a tough cowboy he didn’t think much of it at first.

    I promise that Dan will be glad to give you 15 minutes on your own to help heal yourself – and if he complains I will kick his hiney.

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