Are you stressed?

First things first.. what is stress? It is the body’s response to the demands that are made on it. Chemicals are released into the blood when the body reacts to what is going on around them that is stressful. We experience stress in times of danger and the body responds by releasing these chemicals which give you more energy and strength. During these times, stress can be quite helpful. What we must be on the look out  for relates to if your stress is the result of a response to an emotional event and there’s no outlet to release this extra energy.

We need to look out for  bad stress.  Did you know that millions of Americans suffer from stress each year?

  • Stress can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes.
  • You are more likely to catch colds.
  • Stress can lead to alcoholism, obesity, drug addiction, cigarette use, depression, and other harmful behaviors
  • 3 out of 4 people suffer from high levels of stress at least twice a month .
  • ¼ of all drugs prescribed in the United States go to the treatment of stress.

Up to 50% of primary caregivers experience significant psychological stress. This can lead to serious health and psychological problems. Be aware of certain symptoms:

Denial                  Anger               Social Withdrawal

Anxiety                      Depression           Exhaustion         Sleeplessness

Irritability        Lack of Concentration          Health Problems

I know at different stages I’ve felt or experienced all of these symptoms. I now know that they were a result of the undue stress that I was under.

What can you do to minimize the pressures you may be feeling?

Engage in self care. Self care is the act of engaging in your own personal health care maintenance.  Make an effort to take care of yourself spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Do nice things for yourself and realize that it is important that you put yourself first. Relinquish the need to feel guilty about putting your needs ahead of others. Realize that by not taking care of yourself you will not survive. Often times chronic and acute illnesses have roots tied to the stress in our lives.  Taking care of yourself is not a selfish act. It is necessary for your well being.

Attached please find the following Stress Management Plan that I received from a stress management workshop for caregivers. It will help you identify what stresses you out and help you pay attention to how you feel when you are stressed. Take note of things that you can do to help you relax. The more you reduce your stress the better you will feel and your quality of life will greatly improve!

 

 

A State of Consciousness

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you conscious of the life that you are living now?

I was watching Oprah’s Life Class and she featured a show that reflected on being “present in your life”. It first aired in 2008. There was a woman named Brenda, who was a mother of two and a school principal. Her husband normally carried both kids to daycare and school, but that morning he asked his wife to drop off their 2 year old toddler, Cecelia, at the daycare facility. It was the first day of school for Brenda. As a principal, one can only imagine the crazy hectic pace that is expected on the first day of school where a swarm of teachers, students, and parents are scurrying around as they began the new school year. What do you think was going on in Brenda’s mind? She was under a lot of pressure to not only get herself and her kids ready in the morning, but to also prep an entire school for its opening. She stopped to buy some donuts for the teachers because it was too early to drop Cecelia off at the daycare center. The child was quietly sleeping in her car seat in the back of her car. Brenda drove to her school and continued on her day functioning on autopilot. It was business as usual, or so she thought.

As I watched the recount of this story, I felt a pit drop in my stomach. Did they neglect to add a detail? I think they did; but no they did not! Brenda continued on with her day. Yes we did not hear of that one key step… that one necessary task that she needed to complete for that day. She never dropped her daughter off at the daycare center. She forgot and left her daughter in the hot car all day. To her dismay, by the time Brenda got word from a school friend who noticed that her daughter was still in the car, it was way too late. Unfortunately this was a tragic end to this story. I wish I could tell you it ended otherwise, but I can’t.

You are probably wondering, “What does this have to do with me?”  Yes I said it, because I know what you are thinking.  It’s ok to have those thoughts. I do not take it personally.

How many of us continue on our day in an unconscious state of being? Are you really aware of what’s going on around you or are you constantly rushing from task to task or obligation to obligation?  As caregivers, we are often decision makers who are under a considerable amount of pressure being responsible for the care of a loved one. Some of these situations can be very serious and critical on top of our own daily responsibilities. We often go without sleep, tend to become overwhelmed with worry about situations that are out of our control, and put our lives and dreams on hold. These sacrifices can often wreak havoc on our very own health and well being.  Guess what? You don’t even have to be a caregiver to suffer from the “superwoman” or superman” complex.  Do you constantly try to take care of everyone or try do everything all the time?

WAKE UP! Take a conscious look at your life.

Don’t let a tragedy that could have been prevented be the conscious wakeup call that you need! Seek ways to slow down and realize that you can’t do it all. Ask for help. Say no sometimes. Get some rest. Take yourself out. Call a friend just to shoot the breeze. It all doesn’t have to be done today. Doing some of these things will help you be a part of life instead of life passing you by. I know that Brenda wishes she could go back in time and change what happened on that dreadful day. Her baby was sound asleep; she made no noise; she did not cry. Don’t let busyness, overwhelming responsibilities, and stress keep you from being present in the moment of where you currently are.

This very second, you can wake up and become conscious of the life that you are living. ~ Oprah Winfrey.