April is national Stress Awareness Month. That’s good timing, at least for me, because March was apparently stress creation month. Things were crazier than normal. That’s OK because it’s a good chance to practice easing up on my desire for control and allow opportunities to unfold organically. Finding peace and a level of comfort with the chaos.
Honestly, I’m still working on that. Differentiating between loosening my grip and not accomplishing enough is difficult. While I’m finding that correct balance my stress level goes haywire. Sometimes I plod along quite well and then other times, not so much. I got a clear warning sign when, for the first time in many months, I found myself lying awake at night, unable to get back to sleep regardless of my typically reliable sleep hygiene routine. That was my first indicator something was up.
Than one morning, still groggy and sluggish, I opened my eyes and saw a bomb had gone off in my kitchen. Ok not really. It was more like Hurricane Christine was there the night before and didn’t tidy up. Dishes were piled in the sink – I hate that. Mornings are challenging enough without facing a massive clean-up so I like to leave the counters, table and sink clear. What was I thinking the night before? Well, I was thinking I was tired, and I wanted to break free from the demands on me, which apparently included the dishes. I’d retreated to bed to escape, only here it was, as a grim greeting, just a few hours later. Another signal on the stress meter.
I started walking regularly, which felt good, until this subtle nausea arrived. A wicked flu is going around and I wanted no part of that. I dipped into the “Hell No I Ain’t Getting Sick” remedies to fight it off. I was successful; briefly. Then undeniably it was clear: I was sick.
My first thought? “Just scale back.”
I did a task and took a nap. Woke up, did a task and took a nap. Those tasks were half done at best. I kept lecturing myself there was no time for an illness. I had taxes to prep, documents to file, travel arrangements to make. Begrudgingly I allowed myself one day of sick time. Wouldn’t it be great if viruses worked that way?
Day two arrived and I was no longer sick to my stomach, but I was exhausted. Getting to the couch was a huge effort. I felt guilty for not walking or working or doing all the things that needed doing. My stress level was steadily rising and I wasn’t getting any better.
I welcomed day three, feeling less fatigued but, still with a fever. I reasoned less fatigue meant time to get out and walk.
<Insert record scratch>.
Luckily, a moment of sanity interrupted that crazy notion. Bitterly I hit the couch again, thinking about what was not getting done. On Demand, my blankets, tea and blame were my entire existence. During the third episode of Mysteries of the Abandoned I realized two things: 1) the stress I was soaking in was self-created and 2) it was not helping my recovery – at all.
This was the moment to unclench my grasp, admit I was not in control, and allow the Universe to run the show. My only task was releasing the thoughts creating stress and slowing down my healing. So, I napped for the third day in a row. I stopped feeling bad that I hadn’t cleaned out the flower beds. I accepted that my email campaign was not going to start as planned. I decided not to be ashamed about focusing on myself. I finally let go.
Day four I was feeling better. My first instinct? Run to the desk. Get caught up. Do ALL the things!
An almost indiscernible voice in my head whispered: Isn’t that part of the reason you got sick in the first place? Ugh.
Insight can be inconvenient. Progress requires change. Change feels uncomfortable.
Though I didn’t like it, I opted to spend Day Four outside. Not raking and mowing and doing the tasks on the outside list. I spent the day puttering. Being in nature; soaking in fresh air and vitamin D. Releasing stress and getting well. Best thing I did all week!
I had known my stress level was rising but ignored it. I had resources for tracking stress and identifying it’s causes but opted not to. Can you relate?
The consequence of those choices was my stress rose and I lost more time to illness than I would have if I had dealt with the stress as soon as I realized what was happening. Lesson learned and now changes are underway. I’m tracking my stress for the rest of the month and spending less time ignoring it so I can spend more time managing it. Are you with me?
#LetsGrow #StressAwarenessMonth #MeetMaple