Some of you may have gathered a little info about me from my blogging, such as that I'm a Type A, a little (okay a LOT) OCD, go-go-go, sleep is a waste of time, why put off tomorrow what needs to be done an hour ago kind of gal. This little old personality of mine worked out well when I was out in the workforce, enabling me to be on the directing end of things instead of the following end, but is really not a very helpful trait as a mom - moms need patience, need to answer endless questions, and lots of "coaching time" for little ones to succeed. This is something I've always struggled with, and probably the only reason I didn't homeschool my kids to be honest, I know my limits. So turns out this personality is also causing a few health issues for me as well - nothing earth shattering but stuff that definitely needs attention. Namely, my blood pressure...
A little background - for most of my life I've always been the one with the low 110/60's readings and so I never was faced with reigning in the stress level in my life, I thought "why should I?", stress makes me really productive! Then about 3 years ago I was diagnosed with borderline hypertension. "Borderline" made me nervous since I'm not overweight, am active, yet have a family history of this sort of stuff. But at the age of 38 I refused to take the "mild" hypertensive diuretic meds prescribed to me and discussed with my doctor doing it another way, and he gave me a 6-month go-ahead to try. I started watching my diet and adding lots of good fats in the form of fish, nuts, olive oil, added some red wine... basically the "Mediterranean Diet", bought a treadmill to get some more aerobic type measurable activity other than my daily gardening and running around, went on a bunch of supplements such as grapeseed extract, niacin and some others and did well and journaled great numbers for a year - up until I kind of "forgot" to keep on going! So now, imagine my non-surprise when I decided to start taking my BP at home again and am finding numbers consistently in the 135-145/ 85 range.... not good. I know now that no matter how good my diet is, family history is a factor and I'm going to have to admit defeat and take the next step, ugh!
In the big scheme, a prescription isn't what I'm wrestling with anymore, it's this one big thing... how do I eliminate stress? I'm smart enough to know that this is a huge factor with me, probably enough to make the difference if I could just let go of it! I don't even have any real stress to be worried about, compared to many other people with bigger problems than the ones I face. I just happen to thrive on it! I love and live for deadlines, fixing financial woes, worrying about the kids, college (seriously, and they aren't even 9 yet LOL). What am I supposed to do without anxiousness and worry? Who else suffers from this love/hate relationship with stress or truly enjoys it? I hope I'm not alone out there :)
So... my completely "Type - huh?" husband is going to love this revelation that I'm having, that not only do opposites attract, but their way is actually much healthier! :)
In the meanwhile, my suppressed anxious girl inside had to take action, as is my way with everything, and scheduled a complete cardiac evaluation/physical next week, which led to the eye exam scheduled for tomorrow, which led to the mammogram, which led to the research on supplements to help with the lovely feeling of early menopause, which somehow led to me scheduling my kids' dentist appointments... get the picture? Yep, I need help LOL...
It's still 89º every day, so I'm waiting for the weekend to deal with the fall garden, we are hoping for temps in the 70's in between the rain forecasted.
p.s. you know I can't blog without at least one photo, so here it is!...
This was this morning, I expect they will be "boots on the ground" any time now...
oh, MY! hope you can get that in check and soon!! I'm the anxious, often stressed sort myself, but I don't enjoy it. definitely wish I were more like you in that...how wonderful to thrive under conditions most of us dread!!ReplyDelete
I do understand exactly what you're saying. I've always thought that if I just worked a little harder, a little faster...and felt like I was efficient and productive working that way.ReplyDelete
Now that I'm 66, and the blood pressure is up there, and I'm retired, I've realized that most of that pressure and gogogo was not doing me any favors. For one thing, I projected such a can-do attitude that others routinely stepped back and just let me take over. I worked myself to a frazzle! I finally realized that often slower was better, and those around me really wanted to have a hand in the projects and share in the pride and the results. My big progress was when I started thinking about what was really important, and letting go of the things that weren't important. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary, if I wasn't to drive myself into worse health and everyone close to me away. Life is much better now, and I still get a lot more done than most people, I just enjoy life a lot more. Hopefully I'll live longer too. Good luck in finding your new path.
Best of luck in your appointments. I hope you get a clean bill of health, but I have to say, that many doctors appointments in such a short time would cause my blood pressure to go through the roof. Talk about stress!ReplyDelete
DMarie, that's the whole thing I struggle with, I actually thrived on that sort of thing up until now, it's really hard to change old habits, but I'll have to find a way :)ReplyDelete
Trailshome, I'm so glad I'm not alone, and you give me inspiration that I will be able to start letting go of some things and try and enjoy more and worry less, I'm sure it will be a long learning curve, I really identified with everything you said and kept nodding my head "yes"!!
Jane, you aren't kidding - I've already started getting that "White Coat Syndrome" here at home when I wrap the cuff around my arm, and then a minute later kicking myself for forgetting to "breathe"! wonder how many points that is causing me LOL. One good thing is that it's a relief to get the other appts out of the way, since I've only had good experiences with mammograms thus far, and my eyes have been bothering me knitting and reading since Sprocket ate my glasses 2 months ago and I've been making do with the old lady cheapo reading glasses, so I'll be glad to get the updated Rx and new glasses :)
You do make me tired just reading about your busy life. But I'm pretty sure I'm like you, feeding off of stress. I might have all kinds of things to do, and it might not be a big deal, but if I MAKE it a big deal, it will get done!ReplyDelete
Hopefully you get the blood pressure worked out. Take some more deep breaths!
Two words....Ashtanga Yoga....the whole shooting match! Chants and all!!ReplyDelete
I am right there with you. It is sooo hard when you are just wired that way. I struggle everyday with the same thing. Wishing you the best in making some changes to reduce stress. And if you figure out how to do that PLEASE SHARE! The rest of us need some pointers.ReplyDelete
Well you really should come and visit with me for awhile. I have this Type A friend who tells me that she gets so calm when we get together. I know it's just her way of saying I'm the most boring person she has ever known and when we get together I bore her to death. LOL!ReplyDelete
I recommend meditation and yoga.
I was a little younger than you are now when I started on 1st,water pill to lower pressure now I'm on more so the sooner you take care of things the better. my mom had blood pressure problems too and with her it really was a silent killer so please take care of your self I think everyone has there stress,some that effect health and others not so much-I'm on the extreme side ,not ocd or in a hurry but worry ,really my middle name. I never learned to control the emotion side of thing.some people say all that goes back to childhood horrors.I would think just being able to talk to someone.not necessary someone close like mom,but someone to confide in.I have learned that you should never hold a back back of emotions,it can be on overload and you will still be trying to carry it,so I say to you Erin.lighten your loadReplyDelete
Ahhh, so now I know maybe how you can get so much done!!! Seriously, though, I'm one of those laid back, low stress people. I tend to drive other folks nuts because I'm slow and plod along most of the time. I have a very good friend that is like you, and she wishes she were more, uh, slower. And here I am, forever wishing I could be faster! Who knew being slow could be a good thing?? I'm sorry I can't be of help to you. I hope you are able to find peace, whether it's under a childproof cap, or sitting in your garden saying, "Ohhhhmmmmm."ReplyDelete
I agree with those who say yoga. Get theeself to a class, or to a library for some videos. You're going to have to train yourself to relax. Take care...you have a lot of people who love you.ReplyDelete
Can't help you because I have the same thing going....and I've been unable to solve it. Hope you find what works...ReplyDelete
Take care of yourself girlfriend! Try the yoga maybe that'll help even things out a little bit.ReplyDelete
So...you and I are the same, and your hubby and mine must be twins? ;) I've really had to learn a lot of my husband's techniques for letting go of stress (which really aren't techniques as much as they are personality) because, like you're finding out, at some point Type A can really screw with your health. There are things to do today, there are things to do tomorrow. Do today what NEEDS to get done, save the rest for tomorrow. That's what I had to start with. I actually went to a therapist for awhile right after kids because I kind of freaked out - I was scared I wouldn't be able to get everything done (and my self made to-do list was insane and totally unrealistic). My therapist looked at me and said "If it doesn't get done today...what will happen?" And when I sat down and really thought about most of it, I couldn't answer him. Which spoke volumes to me.ReplyDelete
I'll do some looking through my stuff and see if I can come up with any books or other things that might help you to de-stress. Besides gardening....what kinds of things do you like to do with YOUR time?
Erin, I can relate totally. Even though I am several years older than you, I have been struggling with this very same issue for the past 8 months. I am fighting the medication tooth and nail. Like you, I eat well, I am not overweight, I am very active and even when I added the gym every single freaking day,I still could not get that blood pressure down. It's the family curse.ReplyDelete
I have read a lot about breathing techniques and have dabbled with exercises that help you learn to breath better. Apparently we do not breath the way we are designed to. It has also helped me reduce stress...especially those days when I wake stressed. On those days I attack the weeds with a vengeance.
In the meantime, now that the kids are back in school, take more time for yourself. Move a little slower (I know, hard to do--we military type A gals don't work that way) and look to your husband's example. Yoga sounds good too.
Good description of feeling stress which pushes you to get stuff done versus feeling stress which makes me feel worse but NOT get stuff done. I tend to be less productive when I'm stressed.ReplyDelete
I think my main problem is that this guy I live with NEVER stops. Therefore, I feel like a slug when I don't keep up with him. (We [he and I] also take on WAAAY too much to do and we MUST figure out how to stop that.) We keep repeating that life is to be enjoyed but the enjoyment needs to come from more than projects accomplished!
You're one sharp gal to realize just what your problem is. I know you'll work at it until you find the way that works best to make things better. I vote for doing the hard work on yourself personally rather than going the pharmaceutical route. The human body can work MIRACLES in healing itself if we just get our minds/emotions on the right path.
Sending hugs and lots of love.
I applaud you for your efforts to work with your body and live healthier instead of covering up the problem with medications. I'm sure your body thanks you as well. There are some wonderful things about the way you operate, girl! I HATE stress, and want to escape it at all costs. Sometimes that means that when things get overwhelming, I get the kids in the car and drive away from it all. That doesn't really help with what needs doing at all. Eventually I have to deal with it.ReplyDelete
I guess it's all about the right balance. Perhaps somewhere in the middle of where each of us are would be better. ;) I pray all of your appointments and check ups provide good news!
I, fortunately or unfortunately, am right there with you. I think/know I create most of my own stress because it feels "good" in a way. Oooh, that sounds, well, sick. Anyway, the one thing I used to do that made me feel better and allowed me to slow down, was a combination of mediation and yoga. Unfortunately, I have not followed it since I moved here - where I REALLY need it. I do much better with a class, as I am too easily distracted on my stressful path. But I am starting to set aside three mornings a week (early mornings, of course) to spend time on basic yoga exercises. It takes a lot of concentration (and allowing myself to stop and do it) to manage three days. The key is to find a balance you can live with.ReplyDelete
You all are so supportive, thanks! Although operating well under stress is ultimately maybe not such a great thing, I must admit I'm a little glad that I'm not alone, and that some of you struggle with that too and have adapted and found ways to lessen some of the stress. I have to giggle at the yoga suggestions, simply because years ago when I asked my dentist about the fact that I clench my jaw all night long (still do that, too!), he suggested yoga and I told him that I thought yoga would "stress me out" - you should have seen the look on his face LOL. Seriously though, the thought of being relatively still and quiet kind of makes me anxious... although I do have a yoga DVD, maybe I'll give it another try now that the kids are out of the house in the mornings. I'm late catching up on your blogs today since my eyes were dilated, that was a new experience - yeesh! Thanks again to all of you - it means more than you know!ReplyDelete
There are guided meditation tapes that are easier to do because someone is talking to you and guiding you through some breathing and visual activity. The kind where you sit and try to still your mind can be very difficult for Type A people so look for anything that says it's a guided meditation.ReplyDelete
I have some thoughts on this Erin.....one is that you are already in 'stress mode' and many forms of exercise worsen that. In my opinion you need a more relaxing form of movement, yoga/stretching/meditation type stuff. VERY hard to do for you - I know. BUT, your body (and mind) truly needs to get some 'time off'. Your body and adrenals are always on high, give them some down time everyday- even if it is only 10 minutes.ReplyDelete
For me, finding a quite corner and listening to music on the iPod for 10 or 15 minutes is my version of meditation. I may sniff some lavender or lemon essential oil while doing this as well which immediatly lowers my level of tension. My favorite CD is "Meditative Stream" by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, available for preview on i-Tunes. I think you might like it too.
Also, make sure you are taking a high quality trace mineral supplliment. Many of those other things you were taking can not be maximized if we are lacking in trace minerals. And we all are no matter how many veggies we eat thanks to our depleted soils. Also, try doubling your calcium & magnesium intake (again, in a good absorbable brand) and this may actually help reduce your bp. Calcium has done wonders for lowering blood pressure in many studies. :) Stay away from that prescription Erin, give yourself more time to try and tame this with other methods.
PS- if there is anything else you are looking to 'treat' with supplements e-mail me, I am a nutrition geek and subscribe to lots of newsletters/read lots of books on the subject with integrative medicine in mind vs traditional MD thoughts. I *may* be able to help. :)ReplyDelete
Kelly, good point on the meditative cd, I could definitely see doing that. As far as the supplements go, I already do those things and have actually been on a regimen that includes Cal-Mag and lots of highly absorbable vitamins and antioxidants as well as grapeseed extract and a few others that works very well when I remember to reorder (the stuff is expensive!). The reason I love exercise so much is that is an active step I can take, and has immediate blood pressure results. Just walking on the treadmill for 25 minutes lowers my blood pressure for the next 4 hours, and if my bp checks high on my home machine, I immediately do that and have never been disappointed, but if I could remember to do this twice daily every day I'd have more long lasting and consistent results! If you are familiar with Dr. Kowalski's program to reduce HBP and cholesterol, that's the supplement program I use, with a few tweaks here and there.ReplyDelete
I echo Kelly's comment particularly about avoiding the prescription if you can agree with that.ReplyDelete
Trace minerals are SO important. The one I use is ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops put out by Trace Minerals Research and I get an 8 oz. bottle for $17.99 which lasts a looong time.
We all care and are concerned about you so please keep us updated as to how the battle goes!
I guess my layman perspective is that the treadmill, even if done twice a day will only lower your bp for 8 hours out of 24. That is great, but ultimately you want your baseline pressure lower all of the time; the treadmill continue to bring it further down for a period after exercise.ReplyDelete
You describe yourself as anxious and unable to relax, always go-go-going. So on the one hand aerobic exercise is stress relieving and quite good for you. But on the other hand it is another stress on your systems, which are already maxed out. So if you can balance things out with the meditation, soothing and gentle yoga- (not strenuous!!), or maybe even more sleep/rest (which means healing time for the body) than hopefully your body-mind system as a whole will find less stimulous, be more at peace, and naturally lower your pressures. You are already doing everything else 'right' so stick with it, and best of luck!! :)
Hi, I've been thinking about this since you posted it, and what you're going through is so frequently found among today's women. Somehow we've so often fallen into the superwoman mode, trying to fit it all in, while being the best mother ever, top chef, with the immaculate home, and all while saving money on everything. Why do we believe that we have to be these stellar examples of everything, all rolled up into one? If we women could just find a way to accept our own faults, we'd be a lot happier and less stressed. Somehow we usually see all of our own faults and demand way too much of ourselves.ReplyDelete
As for meditation and yoga, doesn't work for me at all. I hold still and I tighten up. Finding something productive that I like to do, like knitting, is a meditation that works for me, but I have to do it while not being distracted by tv, or I'm just doing another task. Good music or a recorded book works better. Also, Tai Chi works for me, and has lots of good health benefits...and you're in constant motion. Much better for a frenetic, in-motion person.
Good luck in your search for the better way.
There are many types of yoga. Ashtanga yoga is a moving yoga. It involves a certain type of breathing and the practice takes 90 minutes. It is not easy. When I used to do it at a center, occasionally a fit gym type person would come in. After ten minutes, they would be sweating so bad and wondering how long it would last.ReplyDelete
You should see if it is available some where and give it a try. It is very good for your mind, body and soul!
I used to be just like you when I was your age. "The Italian" still thinks that I have too much energy :)
My answer, Part I (bear with me, I seem to have written a short book!):ReplyDelete
Hmmm . . . so, so many thoughts flitting around this pea-size brain of mine. Thought I’d send ‘em in an e-mail but then thought that, since other people are looking for solutions here, that I’d post my long response, instead!
So. One thing that you glossed over here but which I think is a real issue for you is SLEEP! I know, I know, you can sleep when you’re dead. But, quite literally, you might work your way right up to that! Instead of looking at the length of a day as being 24 hours, you need to look at it as 16 hours. I know you’re saying, “Sh*t! I can’t do what needs to be done in ONLY 16 HOURS!” . . . but you HAVE to. Not to ADD to your stress level, but you need to get a decent amount of sleep (i.e., 8 hours). I know that’s rich, coming from me, but I’ve been working on it and HAVE made improvements! No longer do I let myself stay up ‘til 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Count backwards from the time you HAVE to get up in the AM to get the boys off, etc. (NOT the time you “want” to), and be in bed by then. Do you have troubles sleeping or can you sleep if you ALLOW yourself to? (Just realized that none of my caps are gonna show in your all-caps comment formatting. Hmph!)
Guess my caps DO show! Good! :)ReplyDelete
Secondly, I think MamaTea really hit the ol’ nail on the head with her therapist’s question regarding, “If it doesn’t get done today, what’s the worst that can happen?” I’ve really been practicing this myself, and it HELPS. Sure, *you* might not feel as good if you don’t get it done . . . but that is PURELY in how YOU are looking at it. In the scheme of life, if it doesn’t get done, will anyone die? People or animals? Then . . . so what?! I know that’s a big pill to swallow, but it is 100% true. If those cherry tomatoes begin rotting in the garden beds, will your family starve this winter? No. Will those missed tomatoes do any good? YES! They will add nutrients to the soil they’re rotting on (seriously!) AND they will feed critters and birds. When you DO get to them, don’t throw them out. That’s doing no one any good. Set them somewhere special for the birds or critters. Have the kids watch what kind of birds they attract. It’s a science project! Really, breaking things down into these tiny different parcels has REALLY helped me. Baby steps.
Now, each one of us has “something” that will finally make the “click” for them – turn the lightbulb on. For me, it was during Family Reading Night when Papa Pea was reading an article about reducing stress, etc. The author suggested that we look at each thing we’re doing / stressing about / hurrying to get done as “it is URGENT or is it IMPORTANT”? I think we too often put the emphasis into the wrong task. We tend to look at everything as urgent. It’s GOTTA get done. It NEEDS to get done. But, in Big Scheme of Things, is it IMPORTANT? Try to put just those IMPORTANT things on your day’s to-do list. And, be HONEST! I think you’ll be amazed (I was!) at how few things really ARE truly important. It’s all that “urgent” garbage that’s causing you to stress out! You can plug whichever words work for you in to replace “important” and “urgent”. Case in point, I have a list this morning that includes, among other things, sending a cheery/funny card off in the mail to my dear girlfriend who starts chemo next week. I also have catch up on the deskwork, get in some wood, clean up the kitchen. All before heading into the office. And, all those things feel urgent. But, are they all *important*? No, the only thing there that REALLY matters, might make a huge difference to my friend’s scary week, is the funny card. Get it?
The one thing that has really stuck with me since my year with a shrink after the can’t-have-a-baby debacle was this:
Set your timer for 20 minutes. Now, get yourself into a comfortable position (for me, it was at the kitchen table) with paper and pen/pencil in front of you. Relax your hands and arms. Relax your feet. Place them squarely on the ground. Now, with your hands in your lap, at rest, close your eyes. Breathe in, through your nose, for the count of ten. Just steady, even beats. (Your lungs will be so full they’ll feel like you could burst . . . except you’re keeping your body relaxed.) Now, breathe out, through your mouth, for the count of ten. No air rushing out. The same timed, steady, even beats. Repeat this until you’ve done it three times. No thinking, just focusing on your breathing. Eyes closed. Now, keeping your body in that relaxed, grounded position, pick up your pen. Start your 20 minute timer and put it behind you, where you can’t see it. Now . . . let your thoughts flow thru your pen. Scribble. Draw. Write. It doesn’t have to be legible, it doesn’t have to be real words. It can be circles. No one will ever see this but you. Knowing a bit of your personality, I would encourage you to NOT take this time to make lists! ;) But, if that is what’s going to help you relax, go ahead! For me, it was often journaling. Equally as often, it was individual words. You’re supposed to put down the first thing that pops into your mind once you pick up that pen . . . and continue for the 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, you set down your pen. Wherever you are on the page, mid-sentence or not.
Oftentimes, I’d be surprised by the anger that would come out of my pen. I did this last year, during the divorce. I filled a page with angry words, turned the page a quarter turn and wrote over the first set of words with more. My pen bit into the page, my dotting of ‘I’s would have dented the table had I not been writing on a pad of paper. This is GOOD. You’re getting something out! When you are done, get up and walk away. You can save the writing or throw it away. Whichever works best for you. For me, I’ve saved them . . . but never looked at them. I can only hope it’s the same for you, but every time those 20 minutes were over, I felt better. E-v-e-r-y time. But, you HAVE to do the deep breathing first.
Part IV of IV (thank goodness!):ReplyDelete
Finally, I think it’s super important for you to physically STOP now and then. Schedule in (since you’re all about to-do lists) 30 minutes (minimum) A DAY for knitting. Or reading. Or listening to music. Whatever works for you. Important thing is, though, you must physically STOP when you do this. Sit down. Lay down. Let your body rest. If you don’t want to lay down because you say you’ll fall asleep . . . well, then, THAT speaks volumes, no??
And, lastly, one thing I think we can ALL benefit from is taking ourselves out of the current situation (can’t see the forest for the trees) in order to THINK. Actively . . . THINK. For me, this can hardly ever happen when I’m at home (IN the forest). But, if I’m driving – doing something that gets me away from the immediate, stress-filled, “problematic” surroundings – I find that my mind begins, MUCH more objectively (than subjectively) analyzing the situation. Finding that place, that time, to THINK about the issues allows me to then categorize, prioritize them. Realistically. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself very clearly here, but my point is that we all need to STEP BACK, step OUT OF our current situations of stress in order to see them clearly.
Try to look at it (whatever your situation is) from a dear friend’s point of view. If you were your best friend, what suggestions of change would you make? What is your friend (i.e., YOU) doing that’s unnecessary and only adding more stress?
If you (or ANYONE reading this) wants me to clarify my points more, feel free to e-mail me. After all, the doctor is in! (Hahahahahaha! Think Lucy in Peanuts. After all, analyzing YOUR stress will take me away from MINE!) ;)
Okay, I shall now try to post this soliloquy in the comments section. (Anyone out there fallen asleep yet!?)
Wow, what an amazing group of ladies we have here. Seems as though we are all working on letting the non-important things go, and trying to find more harmony in our day. I just want to say 'good for us', seeking wellness needs to start within, and then we can allow everything around us to add to our joy. I really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts and advice. You girls rock!ReplyDelete
Well I think I set a record number of commenters with this post! Health is obviously a hot topic with us, and an important one, too!ReplyDelete
Kelly & Chicken Mama, thanks so much for all the suggestions, and email stuff too - lots for me to think about. I did manage to get away from the house by myself today to Barnes and Noble and just "sit" with a stack of books and a coffee, my favorite thing to do! Funny side note though... Borders was just down the street and I liked it better and the coffee guy was better there, but alas, obviously Borders is defunct now so I had to drive across town to B & N... seems like stress is conspiring against me LOL!
What a fascinating dialogue here. Lots of amazing "conversation". I just want to add a potential resource. I took an 8 week class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction founded by Jon Kabat Zinn. The book we used was called Full Catastrophy Living. I can relate to all you say...stress w 4 kids, work, home, family...and I like you am active, exercise, eat a vegetarian diet (11+ years) and need to do it all and do it well. This class was an attempt to bring mindfulness to my life and begin to work on the stress. It takes a physical toll. And I can't sit to mediate well...stressful. Bur I learned so much...and learned to be gentler to myself. This class was amazing and the book was very good. Looks like you have a great deal of advice and resources to ponder. This could be a good one...maybe not. Either way, I'm there with you in spirit and wish you much success in this journey!!
Hi, Jill! I know, my blogger "family" is just awesome - great suggestions all around, I know if one thing doesn't work for me someone else will always have another suggestion! This "getting older" thing sure sneaks up on us LOL!ReplyDelete