How I plan to reduce stress

Reducing stress

Stress… ahhh! One of my biggest enemies. I am a worrier. My mother used to tell me I was a worry wart. Maybe it’s in genes, it’s just who I am, my introverted self that makes me overthink everything, or I could blame it on whatever I wanted. Bottom line, it wasn’t until my anxiety was through the roof, that I decided it might be a good idea to start being proactive about my worries and stress.

 

I have been known to stress about everything under the sun. Worried what others think of me, my health, if I’m a good enough mother or wife, if I will make it to heaven, if my house is clean enough when company stops by, if I’m giving my children the best of the best education, do we have enough money, and on, and on my list goes. I don’t think it helps that I am perfectionist. Eeek! And how many times have I asked myself “What if….(insert worry here) ?”

I previously had mentioned my troubles with anxiety back in January. Here it is April and I am still recovering. I hit rock bottom and it’s taking me some time to crawl out of my hole. Some days, I feel halfway normal. Then some days, I start worrying. Then I can feel the anxiety trying to creep back in. I used to worry so much I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Maybe rock bottom low has taught me to recognize stress, worrying, and try to be active about reducing my stress/worry.

Will I always have issues with worrying/stress? I don’t know but I strongly believe there are ways to help combat the troubles of this life. Stress is inevitable, unavoidable but there are ways to help cope with stress. And sadly, when I look my oldest daughter, I see that she too is a worrier. I am hoping one day I can pass my knowledge of how to cope with it down to her.

Here’s my action my plan. My go to list for reducing stress. Does it always work? No. Some days I really struggle. Some days, I want to say screw it all. But the more I practice, the easier it is becoming. So here goes….

  • STOP WORRYINGOh man, this is a tough one. I have to tell myself, even if my biggest worry comes true, so what? So what if someone thinks my house isn’t clean enough. The world did not come crumbling down. So what if person X dislikes you, thinks you’re weird, or whatever horrible scenario you can come up with. It doesn’t mean you’re worthless if person X doesn’t like you.  Jesus spoke about worrying and I have to constantly remind myself of how the Father in heaven has got this!

Then He said to His disciples,

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things[c] shall be added to you.

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:22-32)

  • Look into Adrenals- If you have hypothyroidism, I really encourage you to look into this one. Even if you’re not, it might be a good idea to test. Stop the Thyroid Madness encourages a ZRT 4 point saliva test. The best part about this test, no doc visit. It is a saliva test you can test at home. I tested mine cortisol levels back in Jan and my cortisol was sky high all day. It explained why I was waking up consistently at 2-3AM, again at 5-6AM, and anxiety was high. Once I started treating, I saw a big improvement. It dramatically helped my anxiety. Did it completely make it go away? No but like I said, big improvement.
  • Support adrenals- If you have recently been through stressful events, times, you can support your adrenals with Vitamin C, B vitamins (this can be tricky if you have the MTHFR gene like I do), magnesium, Omega 3. Some herbs that can help are adaptogens. Adaptogens help the adrenals adapt instead of raising/lowering cortisol. Ashwaganda and Rhodiola Rosea are both adaptogens. Some would say Holy Basil but I have found it to help lower cortisol when paired with a P.S. That being said, I would recommend Holy basil and P.S. unless you have confirmed you have high cortisol.
  • Epsom Salt baths- Epsom salt baths have many benefits. It helps reduce stress, detoxes the body (also good for MTHFR genes), relieves pain, and so much more. And it’s affordable and widely available. You can pick it up at Wal-Mart, Amazon, dollar stores.
  • Massages- I LOVE a good massage. And if you can afford to regularly have a massage, then I encourage it. But me, I can’t afford to visit the spa very often. My solution? This bad boy! Oh my, the Gideon massaging cushion is wonderful. I really wasn’t expecting much but wooo wee, this is nice. It’s the next best thing to a good masseuse. It’s actually beat some masseuse I’ve had. It’s a little bit of a splurge but 2-3 visits to the spa, and it would have paid for the cushion. Have you ever had an excellent massage and started experiencing sinus drainage and then immediately after leaving the spa have to go to the little girls room? Yeah, this cushion did that to me. After every good massage, this happens to me.
  • Diffusing essential oils- You know, I was a weird one who HATED the smell of Lavender. But after lots of stress, I been finding Lavender EO my go to oil. If you’re not fond of Lavender, there are some other good oils that help you relax. Some of my favorites include; Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood, Rose, Plant Therapy Worry Free , Plant Therapy Relax, and Rocky Mountain Oils Peace & Quiet.
  • Vitamin D- I’ve tested my Vitamin D levels and found they were low. But I have another wonderful gene called the VDR gene. Long story short, basically I need to test both of my vitamin D’s to figure out my levels before supplementing. But one thing I have been doing is sitting in the sun. Vitamin D is good for mood, lowers inflammation, lowers the risk of diseases, boosts, immunity, lowers stress and so much more. And it’s free!
  • Guided meditation- I have trouble sticking with this one but I used more at the beginning of the year.
  • Exercise- This one I can’t do much of because if I do too much, it stresses my adrenals. I’m having to let my adrenals heal but a light walk, short bike ride, or even just some light cleaning can be good.
  • Magnesium- You can get magnesium from Epsom salt or try trans-dermal magnesium.
  • Talking to others- This one, seems to be my go to! I have griped and griped to my husband. But after I vent, I feel better, less stressed.
  • Helping others- Helping others really takes the focus off of my issues.
  • Sleep and naps- Adequate amounts of sleep can do wonders. There is a reason your body sleeps a lot when your sick. It needs the down time to recover and repair. The same concept goes when your stressed, depressed, etc.
  • Earthing- This keeps coming up for me. I can’t say if this works or not yet but I will say it helps to go put my feet in the grass. If your interested in Earthing or Grounding, check out Wellness Mama’s post.
  • Unplugging- During the height of my anxiety, I found a PC, cell phone to be VERY stimulating. There is research that suggests unplugging can have many health benefits. The benefits can include better sleep, memory, mood, etc. I know I feel the benefits when we go camping. It feels like the world slows down and I’m not as edgy. Don’t get me wrong, I can be a technology junkie. I love technology but unplugging can help reduce stress. Read a book. If your too tired see if someone will read to you or listen to an audio-book. Go outside and watch the birds or star gaze. Find a good magazine to read. Knit, crochet, or do something creative
  • Watching TV- I’m never been a big TV watcher but this year, I have found watching TV can help take my mind off my troubles. I know, I know, I just said unplug but it’s all about balance, right? And I felt so fatigued, I didn’t have any energy. I just wanted to lay down.
  • Nature- I live in town but I enjoy to go outside. I have found sitting on the back porch as I watch birds to be very therapeutic.
  • Writing about things that stress me- I’ve thought about journaling but it seems as if I come to the blog to get these’s off my chest. Sometimes I publish the articles and sometimes I don’t. Either way, writing about my struggles seems to give me an out. I have also found support groups on FB to help vent about my struggles. I am a member of STTM groups so I vent in the groups about my thyroid/health issues. If it’s homeschooling struggles, I go to my homeschooling groups. Christian related struggles, I go to the Christian groups.
  • Finding something I enjoy doing- This was very hard in Jan. The anxiety had me so stressed out, I was having a tough time seeing the joy in life and felt like I was flirting with depression. This may sound silly but I had been wanting to organize/decorate my girls room. Her room was a disaster and I told her we needed to organize her room. At the moment, I didn’t have the energy to do it so I told her, look up how to organize your room on YouTube. She brought me this video of this organization box this young girl had made out of a postal box. My crafty side was a tad intrigued. We were going to make it together but after getting into the project, we would be using box cutters, hot glue guns. Long story short, I made the majority of the box for her. It took me 2 days to make because I was so flat out fatigued. I only had a slight bit of interest in the project but I found some joy in making it. As silly as that sounds, the box reminded me of my interests, passions. It showed me they had not flown away but got buried under all of the stress, duties, chores, sickness, and everyday struggles of this life. The box got the ball rolling. We later stopped in the dollar store and picked up some very snazzy tubs in pretty colors, might I add, to help organize more things in their room.
  • Find something to be thankful for each day- I have a picture hanging on the wall in my bathroom. It says, “There is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS something to be thankful for.” Sometimes I forget this. Sometimes I have to dig REAL deep and find the small things. But there is always always always something to be thankful for. 🙂
  • Scripture- There is SOOO much scripture about stress, worrying, anxiety, troubles of this life. I find inspiration and uplifted when I read the passages…. I saw a pin on Pintrest for a Child Training Bible. It looked like a cool idea so I went ahead and bought the chart set, things needed to go with it. I won’t go into tons of details but as I marked each scripture, I wanted to make sure the scripture applied to the category. That left me with reading each piece of scripture and sometimes the whole chapter. I still haven’t finished tabbing but reading the scripture was very enlightening, encouraging, and uplifting. Although this was meant to help parents teach their child how to use the bible with real world situations, I think many adults could greatly benefit from this idea.
  • Yoga- I really need to start doing yoga again. I love yoga just not sure why I don’t do it on a regular basis. I don’t think I need to go into detail on how yoga helps reduce stress. But if you didn’t know it, yoga helps reduce stress. Lol.

 

That’s my list for now. The stress, worry, anxiety is all very unpleasant and I still very much struggle with it all. This is my list on how/plan to develop healthy coping skills. I hope you find this list useful. Please share how you reduce stress!

The past year

My Journey Through Last Year

It’s been a while since I have posted. And there was a time when I thought I might just pull my blog down from the internet as I didn’t have time to maintain or write on it anymore. Last year was a whirlwind of events. The year started off well. I was beginning to feeling better with my thyroid related issues, had energy, treated my adrenals, and started to feel like a human again. Then a hurricane of events brought me to my knees.

Storms

We had hail damage, tornadoes, high winds. The storm snapped a tree in our backyard in half landing it on our back porch and house. It damaged our porch but luckily didn’t damage the structure of our house. The insurance wasn’t going to cover all of the expense of our porch so we opted to build it ourselves and I must add, we did a great job! It looks better than the pre-existing porch. Thank you YouTube, and my husband’s dedication to researching how to properly build it!

Vacation, Family, and Just Being Busy

Shortly after (I think it was maybe a week or 2) the construction workers re-roofed our house, we built our porch, and we were headed for some much needed vacation. Then 2 weeks (I think) later family came in. Then many more visitors, events, and just being busy . I don’t remember every visitor, event but it seemed as if every week, we had something going on. Before I knew it, my dreamed summer vacation was gone. It was time to start planning for homeschool.

Business Trip

This one was a kicker that seemed to make everything spiral out of control.  My husband’s employer “volun-told” him, (I’m stealing this word from my hubby,) that he would be going on a grand adventure for a few months. He had 2 choices; go or lose his job. He had already missed multiple layoffs so he sucked it up and went.

Although they told him he would be going, they never gave a time or date, until 12 hours before the departure. No, I am not joking. At that point, homeschooling would start in about 2 weeks. We had not even decided if the girls and I would be tagging along with him. But 12 hours later, all laundry washed, everyone packed up, we were in the car driving to OKC.  I told myself it would be okay. It would be in our past before long. It could even be fun!

It wasn’t until the time we left that we even knew which hotel was booked or where we were staying. For a perfectionist,planner like me, this was bonkers. This is when the real fun began. The company wouldn’t pay for the hotel on the weekend unless he was working on a Saturday. Most weekends, we drove 6.5 hours home. On Monday, we were making the drive back. The hotel and food was covered. A company car and gas for the company car was provided but the insurance didn’t cover me or my girls therefore we couldn’t ride in the vehicle. I hate driving so my husband drove our own vehicle and paid our own gas.

And while my husband had a daily allowance for food, it wasn’t as grand as everyone would think. It was exactly as it sounded. He had a daily allowance. His boss would not allow him to get a week’s worth of groceries. We had to go to the grocery store, or out to eat each and every single day. Since the 2nd hotel served free supper Monday through Thursday, we would eat and then head to the grocery store every…single…day. Sometimes getting snacks, getting food for lunch, stocking up on goods for home, or when we got tired of the hotel food. It sounds great in theory but we got sick and tired of going to grocery store every day.

Hotels

Most would say well why didn’t you just stay home with your girls? We have been through a deployment and we know how tough it is to be apart. Others told us, “Oh how nice, it would be a paid vacation.” Let me tell you, this was far from any ideal vacation I have taken. It was a nightmare. I’ll put things into perspective. Imagine, driving 13 hours every weekend. Being home long enough to unpack, rewash your clothes, repack everything to live in a 1 bedroom hotel room for 2.5 months.

They had problems booking our room in the hotel so it was a constant, “Which hotel are we staying in?” for 3 weeks. Finally, we were booked in the hotel room with the rest of the guys who were volun-told. We thought, “When we finally get in the other hotel, it will make it easier.” The 1st hotel amenities didn’t seem as glorious as the 2nd hotel. The 2nd hotel had a kitchenette, apartment size fridge, 3 working washers and dryers (the 1st hotel room had 1 washer and a dryer that was out of service), Monday-Wednesday free supper and a courtyard.

Sounds great right? Nope, it got worse. The room was smaller, had 1 queen size bed and a pull out couch. The 1st hotel had 2 queen size beds and while it lacked the other amenities, it had a separate sitting area.

Checking In

To top it all off, the hotel staff at the 2nd hotel hated us from day 1. I’m not joking when I say this. We arrived before the other guys and we were told they check in wasn’t until 12PM. We waited around until 11:45 and tried to check in. The manager tells us, the room isn’t ready. Check in is at 12PM. So we waited in the car until 11:51. Seriously 9 minutes before and she still would not let us check in. It wasn’t until 11:57 PM, when the woman, who also happens to be the manager, was a little gracious and let us check in 3 minutes “early.”

Oh and I must add, the other guys checked in as soon as they arrived. One of them literally checked in 15 minutes after our first attempt. My head wanted to explode. Trying to stay positive, we thought, “well, next week will be better…” It was just because this was our first time staying there. Finally, they began to allow us to check in when everyone else did. But the issues didn’t end there.

Basketballs

So the courtyard also had 3 basketballs out when all the employees were there. One of the times, I took my girls down to the courtyard to play their energy out. There was one ball out there. One of the nicer staff members told my daughter, I will go get you another ball. Ok cool. My girls won’t fight over the ball. Maybe things were looking up. I’m just stressed and think they hate us. HA HA HA!

At the beginning most of the balls were just left out. But then they were missing one day. No big deal. I told my daughter to go ask for 2 balls. She comes back with 1 basketball. I thought you went in for 2 balls? She tells me, ” The woman said they only had 1 ball.” I set there for a second and the more I sit there, the more furious I get. I ask, “Which lady was it?” It was the same woman. I calm myself and tell myself, “don’t get blow your fuse.” Be Christ-like and be kind. I go in there and ask politely for another ball. She tells me with an attitude, “We only have 1 ball.”

My temper rises but I keep my cool. “There has been 3 balls out there every day.” Point blank she tells me, “We only have 1 ball.” I retell her about how one the other hotel staff gave us another ball when there was one already out there. She asks me if I want to come look back in the office. I tell her no but now I am confused. She haughtily goes back to the room behind the desk and keeps saying they only have 1 ball. As she starts rolling, I say rolling, it was more like chunking the balls with much emphasis toward the front desk. She picks up one that is flat and kind waves it in front of me.

At this point, I’m ready to come over that desk, but I keep telling myself, “Be Christ-like.” Like a mantra. After this, she regathers herself or maybe because another customer walked up behind me that she seemed chummy with, she places the balls on the desk and says they do not belong to the hotel. Then she kindly tells me I can take one though.

I’m in shock from what at what had just unfolded and seeing 3 balls, it might have been 4 with the flat one, so I ask, “Are you sure?” She replies calmly, “Yeah sure. It’s fine.” I hesitantly take the ball, tell her thank you, and go back to the courtyard. From this point on, I avoid her like the plague. It went smoother once I avoided her but I felt like an unwelcome guest from this point on.

The Kindness of an 8 Year Old

I must take the time to brag on my daughter. After this incident, my daughter had to ask for a ball again another day. I told her, just ask for 1. Ya’ll will have to share. I didn’t want any more trouble and just didn’t have the energy to fight it. She goes in there and it’s the manager. My daughter tells her with sincerity, “You look very pretty today.”

As parents, we think we are the teachers. But that day, my daughter taught me, no matter how ugly someone can be, you can always return goodness to those who have not been so kind. I was overwhelming proud of my daughter’s kindness. I had every intention on reporting this manager after it was all said and done. But after seeing my daughter’s good heart, I decided I wouldn’t. I would try my best to show her kindness when I really didn’t want to.

Business Trip Coming To An End

Towards the end of the business trip, I got sick. And was flat out tired. I stayed behind for 2 weeks. My husband begged me to come with him for the last week. Like I said above, we have been through a deployment and we realize how precious time is together. After a long and bumpy road, OKC was finally in our rear-view mirror. Things had to be looking up from here…right?

Birthdays and Holidays

Completely exhausted from all our travels, the stress of my husband being on a new product line, birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were up next. My husband was working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day. By the time Thanksgiving hit, I started experiencing anxiety. I knew something was off so I went for blood work.

Anxiety, Adrenals, and Thyroid

My Rt3 was high, ft3 was declining, my iron labs were off, and I had anxiety. I had never experienced anxiety. I began working on my thyroid. I pushed through and felt like I had overcome the anxiety. Now it was Christmas. I ordered every gift online because I knew I couldn’t handle the busyness of crowds. And I honestly just didn’t feel the holiday spirit.

Then I was asked to take on a big role. My sister in law had been having lots of health issues. She was going to be going to a holistic facility for a month or 2. My brother had to work and they homeschooled my niece. He asked me to watch her during this time. As the time approached, I would feel worry and anxiety slip in but I would push it aside. I would be okay. It would be fine. No big deal.

When he brought her down, it finally sunk in. And the anxiety hit me like a freight train. A freight train where I had somehow missed the tracks and now was being blinded by the light. A month later and I am still coping with the anxiety. I never knew how much of a burden anxiety could be. I called my sister sobbing, she told me she would be there in a minute to pick up my niece and take on the job I said I could do. My brother was furious and I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to him. I felt so ashamed. I desperately wanted to help, to do this favor for him, but I couldn’t seem to make myself snap out of this hole I had fallen in.

Today

That brings me to today. A month later, I am still coping with anxiety. And while I am not ready to share the details of the dark place anxiety brought me to, maybe in the future I can bring myself to share and let my walls down. I’m slowly getting better but the wound is still sore.

In the meantime, I am still working on my thyroid. I’ve had more blood work done. I discovered, I have the MTHFR gene mutation, excess rt3 more than likely caused by adrenals, high copper. I’m waiting on my adrenals test to come back. And sex hormones are next on my list. I hope someday I can be there for someone who is also going through a tough time.

My Support

I wanted to take some time to show my thanks for all my loved ones who have seen me during one of my darkest times and been there for me to lean on. My husband, my rock, who has been more than understanding and taken up the slack for me when I couldn’t even take care of myself.

My sister, who took on the role of taking on a responsibility that was to be my own.

My mother, despite her ongoing health issues has checked in on me, stayed with me, and listened.

Robin, who I didn’t know very well but reached out to me and also saw me in my lowest, listened and understood.

My children, who have tried to help mommy out in any way they could. This is my support group that I have leaned on so heavily.

They comforted me, understood, listened, shared their own struggles with anxiety and loved me.  To to the Lord, through all my doubting, faith testing, you were always right there with me. You never left me. I could never thank “all ya’ll” enough.

The Journey

As I close this post, I didn’t realize how tough it would be to revisit last year. I didn’t expect the emotions I felt through every single one of these struggles to come back up. I didn’t know how mentally exhausting it would be….. This entry was supposed to be more encouraging.  Instead, it has journeyed through my emotions, experience, and past. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a hard time revealing my flaws, my weakness, my hurt, and opening up. I suppose this journey is just one more footstep towards my healing.  And while it has been hard to believe I will be okay again, I will get through this, I have to believe that I. Will. Be. Okay.