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Managing Stress

Personally I think managing stress is a very personal thing, as well as your stress triggers.  I know for our family what can stress me out doesn't necessarily stress anyone else out and visa versa.  Since we are entering a "new normal" my stress level has been all over the place but seems to stay at a pretty steady bottom level most of the time.  As in, it's much higher than it used to be and it doesn't ever seem to fall below that point.
When I realized my stress level was not going back to its normal low point any time soon I decided I was going to need to address it.  Obviously having a sick husband brings it own level of stress and the dynamics of it are something I can not plan for, but I needed to address what I could and try to reduce stress where I could.  I really had to think long and hard about areas that were causing extra stress and deal with them.  It wasn't easy because honestly I was not aware of what was adding any extra headache.

The first thing for me was the notifications on my phone.  I turned them all off and changed my email settings to push only.  This was huge.  I feel like I got an instant raise ... I only use my phone when I want or need to and don't feel obligated to look at it any other time.  I thought about turning the ringer and sound off but I can't do that with my family.  I need to be reachable at all times. Turning off all I can on my phone instantly helped, I didn't realize how much having notifications was making me feel so "ON".

The second thing I did was adding some daily quiet time in the morning.  I was good about reading my devotional but I wasn't really having some quiet time.  I thought I was, but I was missing the serious time.  Now I am dependent on it, I need it to help me center myself in the morning when I seem to have the hardest time.  I find that a combination of music + reading + looking at my Pinterest boards where I have saved amazing quotes really helps.  I am open to what it will tell me and I am thankful for the time I have to clear my head and begin my day.

Recently I have had to realize that my A game may be gone forever.  I remember forgetting things and feeling like it took me longer to do things and feeling so frustrated.  Perfect example ... I showed up on a beach trip that had been planned for over a month and had no bathing suit tops, no shampoo + conditioner, no flip flops for my son, no beach towels and to top it off when I ordered our groceries I had them delivered to my home address.  Honestly I felt like I had dropped every ball I had, and truly when the dust settled every single thing was fixable and not a big deal.  It was, however, not me at all.
This morning walking on the beach I realized it may be gone for a while, and maybe that is not a bad thing.  I pride myself on being able to plan things out and mark off my to do list and things are different and I need to adjust accordingly.

I think the thing I am most reluctant to do is let others help me.  So many people have offered and my friends ask almost daily what they can do.  We are managing well for the most part and I feel like I shouldn't need help.  There have been several times my friends have ignored my responses and stepped in to help us and it has been the best blessings. I am beyond thankful in the moment and then I forget and think I can do it all again.  As I am typing this I realize how silly it is.  I am still working on this one and it has been something I am trying to manage.  The truth is our situation will be this way for quite some time and I need to look at it as a journey and prepare for a long walk.

I am also working on taking breaks.  When Lawyer first got sick I was very clingy.  I think the first two weeks I may have stared at him, and I know when I woke up I would watch him sleep.  Yes, weird but I truly couldn't take it all in.  The weeks passed and I felt better about being away from him and now I am realizing that going away, even for a night, helps him rest and helps me reboot.  When you are going through anything stressful you must take regular breaks.  Once again, it's a journey and not a small walk and I have to prepare myself to be strong and healthy.

I have found so much joy in the smallest of things.  I always try to find joy in small things but since our lives changed everything seems to be different.  Colors seems to be richer, words seem to mean so very much, and moments are so very  special.  I think they always were but I think I may have taken it for granted thinking I would just have more time.  Doesn't that sound just awful?  To show you what I mean, I have a story to share.  Almost every single day since Lawyer was diagnosed I have spotted a yellow jeep.  The first few days I just giggled and then when it kept happening I took notice. I see them in different places and every single day, and on the way down to Florida I spotted two.  Every single time I see it I smile knowing it is a little blessing and it brings me joy.

And last, but certainly not least, I am been offering myself a lot more grace.  If you know me well you know I am type A, don't like to let anyone down and really feel like I need to follow through when I promise something.  In this season of my life I have to be realistic and remember I can't be all things to all people and most definitely not to me.  I have to take care of me first to be able to be all I need to be to my family.  Saying no or politely declining has been critical for me.  Letting go of my expectations of myself and others is vital and, most of all, I have to accept some things for what they are.  I was so upset with myself when I came home from the beach to meet the Instacart delivery only to realize she was ringing the doorbell at our house instead.  Was it a silly mistake, yes ... but was it awful, no.  And it saved our sweet daddy from having to go to the store for himself. 

I don't take the feeling of being safe for granted.  When the doctor first said the word cancer + the words chemotherapy my world STOPPED.  I think I was both in shock and numb for a few weeks. I recall saying the words to my closest friends and our family and feeling like I was telling someone else's story.  When that shock started to wear off I noticed that everyone around me had kept going, as they should.  For a month or so I just stayed in, enjoyed the small things and all the quality time and didn't care what was going on around us because honestly I only felt safe at home.  I didn't know what to say to others and they surely didn't know what to say to me.  Now I am branching on, getting out and traveling a little and still offering myself so much grace.  I have noticed I gravitate to some people more than others and I have realized it is because I don't feel like I have to be on guard.  I feel safe, safe to talk when I need to, safe to process the hard days, and most of all safe when they want to ask questions of me.  I don't feel stressed in these situations, I just feel safe, and that is a very good thing.

I always feel like others sharing helps me process my own feelings so I am hoping that this post will help some of you.  Stress is something that can really make a dent in your health and I have to be prudent about mine right now.  These are the changes I have made in the last two months and I hope they are good tips for anyone going through a overly stressful time.  Heck, any stress is bad so many they are good for all.  ❤

Have the best Monday!

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