Life Stresses

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James

Photo by Marta Wave on Pexels.com

That stretch up there . . . that one right there. That is how I end my meditation every morning. After spending 5 min cuddling the puppy so he doesn’t attempt to chew on my arms and legs while meditating, I spend about 10 minutes with the Calm app stretching and letting my body relax before I start the day. I’ll spend another 5 minutes just stretching the legs – both straight and in a butterfly position to loosen up the joints and my lower back, but that stretch . . . . it just feels like the ultimate release in the morning and everything in my spine lines up and we’re ready to go.

The past few days I’ve spend more than 10 minutes stretching. I’ve mentioned it before: Stress and Systemic Lupus are not good bedmates. It can be a vicious circle if ignored. Increased stress equates to increased cortisol levels resulting in inflammation, pain, fever or hypothermia, muscle and joint pain and swelling, headaches, dizziness, nausea — nothing I’d recommend. While I didn’t feel anxious, I logged into a series of sessions on dealing with anxiety. I’ve also logged in and listened to a few sleep stories** at night to help me get to sleep. Five years ago, I’d have rolled my eyes and said, “whatever!” but the few minutes to relax and imagine really does help.

What has me so stressed, you might ask? Let me list it out for you:

  • A change of jobs in December with a new schedule and new hours
  • a resulting change in insurance coverage with a 12-month wait for orthodontia but not a clear explanation of what that means for the kid that is ALREADY in braces
  • All the brew-ha-ha with COVID of which we’re all sick, but with which I’m required to work
  • My sister, having let her health go, is now on care & comfort measures at a nursing home, just waiting for death as her kidneys fail. Anticipatory grieving sucks the life out of you. On one hand you want to keep your family member with you, but on the other you want it to be over so there can be some closure. It is the waiting that is the worst. I remember riding this rollercoaster with my mother and it lasted 7 months. Seven months of “is this it?” to “no . . . she’s doing better” to “is this it?” to “she’s doing much better” until finally the end came and with it a sigh of guilty relief.
  • Three teenage kids and their poor-impulse-control antics and shenaningans.
  • A new puppy that is peeing and pooping everywhere.
  • a bathroom that needs remodeled.
  • a roof that needs replaced
  • and a freaking war in the Ukraine

I’m stocked up on ibuprofen and Tylenol. Ice packs are in the freezer. Muscle Melt and Pan-Away oil are on the nightstand. Diffusers are running nightly. My routines are wonderful at helping me have some modicum of control. I pick and choose my battles.

*I’ve just received a text that my sister has been worse for the past three days and they don’t expect her to live much longer. This is the problem with distance . . . I cannot just pack up and go. I only get three days of bereavement and with three kids in high school, travel for several days affects them as well.

** Of the sleep stories, my favorite, is Matthew Mcconaughey reading one called “Wonder” – don’t ask me what it’s about because I always fall asleep before he gets to the end.

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