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stress

What I Learned Last Week

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: bottled_void

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.

— Attributed to both Jim Goodwin
and Sydney J. Harris

This past week I developed what I call the “acid flu.”  My system seems to naturally create plenty of acid and when my stress level is high, my acid manufacturing machine goes into overdrive.  This leaves me feeling nauseous – not anyone’s favorite feeling – and miserable and achy.  The only good side to it is that I lose my appetite.  Unfortunately, this is probably the one time I need to eat – to rebalance my system.  For a while, I felt miserable enough that I couldn’t read – the ultimate insult.  If I have an excuse to sit around, it would be much better if I could at least do something I enjoy.

I’d been listening to Zig Ziglar’s Embrace the Struggle, Living Life on Life’s Terms.  In 2007, Zig Ziglar fell down the steps in his home, hitting his head… twice – an actual demonstration of the phrase “adding insult to injury.”  As a result of the fall, Zig has struggled with positional vertigo and the loss of his short term memory.  I was truly impressed with his acceptance of his new reality.  I’d been thinking about how to apply his embrace the struggle concept to my life.  Then the acid flu struck.

A Bump in the Road to Acceptance

The road to hell is paved with good intentions – as my mother would have told you.  There can be nothing more discouraging than the intersection of theory with reality.  Zig had embraced his struggle by accepting his temporary limitations and working through them.  Then he worked with family and friends to adjust to those things that weren’t going away in the longer term.  He refocused from giving speeches to writing books.  Me, I curled up in a ball and waited for it to go away.

I wasn’t accepting at all.  I kept thinking that I couldn’t afford to be sick.  I didn’t have the time.  I had posts to write – and bills to pay – and laundry to do, etc.  I didn’t “embrace” anything except to curl up in as tight a ball as I could manage (that’s a kind of embrace, isn’t it?).

As the military say, the battle plan doesn’t survive the first contact with the enemy.  I had been trying to implement the Catholic philosophy of “Not my will, but thine be done.”  I could repeat it in my head, but I didn’t mean it.  I didn’t have time for this.  I had posts to write – and bills to pay – and laundry to do, etc – Oh yeah, I said that already.

In the beginning, I began to wonder why this was happening to me. (You can hear the whine, right?)  When I started to feel better, I knew why and it wasn’t a God’s will thing.  It was simply that my body was telling me that I couldn’t keep abusing it the way I had been.  It was saying STOP!  S T O P !!!  And when I didn’t listen, it enforced its hard earned wisdom on me.

What Have I Learned – Maybe?

As I’m starting to feel better, a couple of things occur to me.  One is that I knew that things were piling up.  Because some of those things were out of my control, I couldn’t avoid dealing with them all at the same time.  I could, however, have taken some acid prevention steps which would have reduced the physical effects of the stressful situations.

Also, it would probably have helped to have taken 5-10 minute breaks as I was going through this.  So, my new battle plan is to “make” myself take breaks.  I have a tendency to try to just push through so it will be over.  Since that isn’t working very well, I need to try something else, or you folks will think I’m insane (doing the same thing and expecting different results).  I need different results, so I will do something different.

Finally, it seems to me that this particular situation wasn’t about embracing the struggle.  It was about being more present and aware of what was happening.  When I went into the week, I didn’t expect it to be a bad one.  It deteriorated over time and I just kept juggling until my body said “un-uh!”  Awareness could have made a big difference – acting instead of re-acting.

That’s my new plan – take breaks and be aware.  I’ll make mistakes I’m sure, but it’s better than no plan at all.  At least, it’s not the same old thing all over again!

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Take a short break and consider the following:

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”

Lily Tomlin

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