Saturday, October 8, 2011

How to Reduce Stress When You're in Over Your Head?

I went to the doctor yesterday about my blood pressure.  Just as I got there, my husband sent me a cryptic text letting me know that something was wrong with one of my children.  I could feel the effect of the stress of his message in my face and eyeballs.  No one needed an ambulance, so I'm thinking it could have waited - at least until they took my blood pressure. 

It was 160/110, which prompted the nurse to ask me if she could get me something - that's never a good sign at a doctor's office. 

My doctor, whom I've known for 24 years, flipped through the paper version of my chart rather vigorously.  Nope, nothing leading up to this.  His theory was stress, same as mine. 

So he gave me a prescription for blood pressure medicine, a temporary thing just until I somehow manage to get the stress in my life under control.  

The question is how do you suddenly control stress after reaching the point that your body wants to check out rather than deal with it anymore?  After the point that you haven't controlled it for so long that it's making you sick?

I know sleep and exercise will help.  Getting enough sleep is a tricky thing when you have chronic insomnia and your alarm clock starts chiming at 5 AM to wake up the kids.  Exercise is hard for me because I have a foot and back problem.  Those two things I definitely need to work on.

Today, now, I'm going to take my ten-year-old outside, the one that never gives me a headache (sorry to say that out loud, the other two of you).  I'm going to take him out to work on the garden, waterproof the front porch, and paint the rail.  Hopefully I can do that with a smile on my face and without hurting my foot or back.  I know that sounds crazy, like that isn't relaxing, but it is to me - and it will make me feel better to have it done.

I also committed to going back on my uber-healthy vegetarian diet (plus fish) that I was on before I got married - at a time when I was healthy, in the best shape of my life.  It's too much to cook differently for me and four other people, so my family will be getting healthy too.  They'll get used to it, right?  I love cooking (unless it gets to the point where it makes my foot hurt) - today I will cook - it will be beans and vegetables, but it will be fun.

My husband is off to Africa again for another two weeks, the first of three trips between now and January.  Part of my stress is his procrastination in getting things done.  I think it's time to outsource the work.  I'm not sure if having people in the house and handing them money will up my stress or make everything magically better.  I guess I'll find out - one handyman, house cleaner, or contractor at a time. 

When my husband comes back, maybe I can disappear alone for a couple of weeks.  Somewhere with ocean (it's OK if the water is too cold - I don't like to get wet anyway).  Maybe I can plan a girl-trip with some of my writing friends, and we can write and laugh and drink and be peaceful for as long as we can afford it.  Anyone in?


  1. Meditation would be most helpful. I also used to be an insomniac. Meditation in the evening was so relaxing I often meditated myself to sleep after about 30 minutes or so. I still do this. Although now when I fall asleep is more of a choice.

  2. The healthy diet will probably help. I'd say try outsourcing a project and see how it makes you feel. I'm all for paying someone else to deal with a problem!

  3. Be thankful that we live in a society where we have access to modern medicine. If this had been the medieval ages, a witch doctor might have prescribed leeches for your stress, or held you underwater and cast spells upon you to cure you of your demons.

  4. The cocktail filled vacation sounds like the best choice to me, but I am assuming that you cannot just fly off to the Caribbean. Having a family who depend on you sometimes makes those fun spontaneous trips unlikely. I know it does for me. Seriously, you need to take it easy because high blood is potentially very dangerous and this is a warning for you to slow down.

    Have you tried pilates or yoga? I have a bad back and I enjoy both. There is also another form of exercise called Kai Chi Do that basically takes meditation to an active level. It is awesome.
    Here is some information.

    Good luck & please try to reduce stress & get your BP down.

  5. I think you can do with a little alone time, but I guess when you are a mom that is hard to come by. But I think you deserve it.

    I hope your healthy diet helps you feel better. I am also a vegetarian now. I have been going strong for almost 6 months now. Thanks for all you encouragement.

  6. I almost forgot, I also suffer from stress, so I have a little stress ball. I also tend to get migraines, but I hope you find something that works for you. Best of luck and I hope you feel better

  7. A nice little getaway will help destress a little. Since I can't get away physically, I do it mentally with a good book, even though it only works for an hour or so.

  8. Blue - Meditation would be good. It's just that it's never quiet here. Never. When the kids go to sleep, my husband is always clanking around - or snoring. Will try anyway. :)

    Alex - I have really improved my diet and feel a lot better. Got the number for a house cleaning person too.

    Michael - There are a lot of meds now, but it's very much a let's try it and see what happens for you kind of thing - everything has side effects. I am feeling much better with the BP meds. Amazingly better.

  9. Melissa - I haven't done yoga in years, but I think it's time. I can't go to the Carribean but I think I can do a North Carolina beach trip for a few days.

    Murees - My family is being very cool about me going back to vegetarian - and the thing where they will be eating what I eat. My daughter tried out some recipes in the vegetarian cookbook - very yummy. A stress ball would get lost in the mess of toys in 3 seconds in my house. :)

    Donna - a book sound good. The BP meds really helped my headache and my vision - I think I could definitely read tonight.

    Thanks for all of your kind words.