You will all be relieved to know that I’m doing much better lately. There is, of course, still worry, but I feel like I’m doing a bit better as far as the stress level goes. I had my first therapy session on Tuesday, and the therapist told me that she thinks I’m doing pretty well, and gave me a few tips to help me to cope. As a favor to any of my readers out there who might be stressed as well, I’ll make a Thursday 13 out of a combination of tips she had for me, and things I’m already doing, which she agreed would be helpful.
- Keep a notebook nearby, and when I think of something that needs to be handled, write it down. Don’t think it needs to be handled right that minute, but set aside one time of day to take care of it all. The notebook is to make sure I don’t forget things, and to let me go on with my day without worrying that I will forget something important.
- Don’t go visit every weekend. Make it every other weekend, because if my weekends have to be focused around going to see mom, I’m not going to be able to fully relax. That’s a hard one, because I don’t like to think of her there with no one to visit her, and I don’t think Kate should have to take it on all by herself. But it’s an hour and a half each way, and $30 of gas, and pretty much takes the whole day.
- Talk to the doctors, and share information with them about my observations. I’ve been doing this already, and I think it’s pretty effective. Especially since these doctors don’t really know my mom, don’t know all of her health issues and her personality, it helps for me to communicate with them, and let them know if I suspect something is off. Like with the meds.
- Don’t talk about my mom’s condition with everyone all of the time. Limit that part of the conversation to a few minutes, and then go on to talk about something else, preferably something cheerful and non-related. This isn’t because it’s not good for me to talk about things, it’s just that the constant talking about it keeps it at the very front of my mind all of the time, keeps it at the front of my emotions all of the time, and my mind and emotions need a break.
- When I do go to visit my mom, do something nice for myself to reduce the stress. Whether that’s stopping for lunch somewhere that I want to eat, or getting a Starbucks on the way (I don’t drink coffee, so that’s not going to happen), or having a glass of wine when I get home, or singing along to the Buffy musical CD in the car, do something to make the drive as pleasant as possible.
- Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reducer, and since I’ve started up a few days a week again, more than just walking Maya to school in the mornings, I’ve been sleeping much better.
- Eat well. To stay strong and not let the stress get to me, I need nutritious foods that will give me strength to get me through. I pretty much do this already, with healthy meals the majority of the time. Yes, I eat Cheeto’s or chips as well, but the foundation of nutrition is under there, and my body can get its work done.
- Breathe. She said it’s important to stop and breathe when I’m feeling stressed. And you know what? It actually does help some. My step mom gave me this same advice, when I was up in Anchorage, and it helped then, too. I don’t know what it is that I keep having to be reminded to do this. Tonight is Maya and my first yoga class together, and I think that will help a lot as well.
- Get a massage. When I told her that I was getting a massage that same evening, she said that was a GREAT stress reducer, and I should do it as often as I can afford. At least once a month. When I had the massage, and it felt SO good and relaxing, I was wishing I could afford to get one once a week. Stupid money.
- Have fun! She said it’s important to spend some time doing things that I want to do, hang out with friends, be with my family. I knew that one already, and I’ve been doing a decent job of balancing this stuff with fun. Like making sure I got home in time a few weeks ago, after taking my mom to the nursing home, to get to the RUSH concert. That was a LOT of fun, and I really enjoyed it. This Saturday is a casual little wedding shower for Dot, with Cherry and Liz, so I foresee more fun in my future. Plus, Prince Caspian is coming out, and Maya and I have been looking forward to seeing that for awhile.
- Remember that there is nothing I can do to make my mom well. I can tell her things that I think are important, but it’s not my responsibility of she doesn’t hear me, or doesn’t agree. This is a hard one, because since she’s not exactly well, I feel like repeated tries might get the message through. But I need to let it go at some level, and understand that she has to truly want to get well, before she will be willing to put in the effort that will be required. And I do think she truly wants to get well, but that the wall of depression has been slowing her down considerably from making the changes that need to be made. That and her stupid sciatica, which sure chose some lousy timing to flare up.
- Don’t talk about stressful things right before bed. That just gets the emotions churning, and the brain going into hyper-drive. So stop the mom talk at least an hour before bed, even if she’s doing well. Just talk about something completely different.
- Be a team with Kate. This one, we’ve already got covered. But it was nice to hear that it’s a good thing to have her as a sounding board, and as a team member in this project, so that I don’t feel so alone in dealing with it all. I’m pretty fortunate to have Kate (and of course, so is my mom), because otherwise this would all be a LOT more difficult. But you can’t ALL be a team with Kate. She’s only one person. So find your own team to deal with your challenges, and you’ll be that much better off.
So there you are. Good advice, it seems. What’s the best advice for dealing with stress that you’ve received? Or figured out on your own?