Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stress

I've done a massive amount of cooking (and baking!) over the last few days and have neglected to share it here. I promise that I'll put up the recipes today or tomorrow and share the pictures of this week's CSA box, too. But before I do that, I wanted to share my thoughts with you about a health issue that we all struggle with from time to time: stress.

Stress can be acute for many of us, while for others something that results slowly over the years. I've struggled with how much personal information I've wanted to share here and sometimes when I go silent for a few days it's because I'm not sure if it's even relevant to the blog. But the truth is, no matter how dedicated we are to living a healthy lifestyle, the unexpected can happen and we wind up sidelined.

I've been dealing with some acute stress brought on by the complexity and uncertainty of the adoption process and unfortunately it's manifested into some physical symptoms. Mainly, loss of appetite and energy. Hubby and I have had a very tough few weeks on our road to parenthood. But I'm pleased to say that we've managed far better than I ever expected. Mentally and emotionally, we've tapped our individual and joint strength. I'm so proud of the marriage we've created and our ability to deal with the emotional roller coaster we're on.

With all that said, I've been pretty surprised at my own body's reaction. In fact, I was pretty darn frustrated that my head felt fine, but my body refused to get back in the game. My workouts have been for crap and I've had no desire to eat the wonderful, healing foods I've been making. I thought I could just "will" myself to feel better. But the truth is, stress can be a shock to one's body and no amount of pushing or yelling or encouragement will make healing go any faster. It just takes time and patience and the knowledge that it's just a temporary situation.

Recently, someone offered me a great metaphor for how stress affects our bodies. Imagine a swimming pool full of clear, blue, calm waters. Then, someone spills a bottle of ink in it. You can't just get a ladle and scoop the ink out. It's everywhere and the filters just need time to clean in out.

I'm learning to treat myself more gently and let my body's filters do their job. I'll eat better when my body is ready. I'll have more energy for the treadmill soon. But pushing myself-or judging myself harshly- is like adding another bottle of ink to the pool. It will only make things worse.

So, if you're dealing with stress now, please think about what I said. Whether your stress is the result of work, a sick loved one, buying or selling your house...please be gentle and kind to yourself. Putting high expectations on yourself might only aggravate your health further.

5 comments:

Ricki said...

What a great post Karen (though I'm so sorry to hear that you're under such stress!). I love the pool/ink metaphor--I think my pool is pretty inky at the moment--and it helps to think of the process as a filter. Best wishes for some stress-free times coming up!

Mo said...

Hi Karen,
Thank you for this post. I feel like I'm barely able to keep my head floating in a sea of stress. This new job is taking it's toll, we're trying to sell a condo, and we have our home-study on Monday afternoon. I hope I can live by your words of wisdom and let my body work this out.

Joel said...

My wife and I went through a similar struggle. After massive amounts of money, shots, IVF, any other names you can through at it...you start to lose sight of things. It was our faith and our love that got us through the hard times. We believed that G-d had a plan. Sooner or later he revealed that plan and we thank him everyday for it.

I know being in your situation that there was little that anyone that could say to make the pain and heartache go away. (Especially as it seems everywhere you turn around people are living your dream). The only comfort I can offer you is that you will come out of this stronger and that G-d will reveal his plan in time.

The P & A Food Chronicles said...

i love to spend my life in the Kithchen!! lol loved ur post

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