We live in modern times – stressful times. The human race has always had the power of reason and the will to control its environment. But thinking he can control everything in his domain takes toll on the health of the human being.
We assume that our body can withstand anything that can be thrown at it. That, we are a resilient race that triumphed the term “Survival of the fittest”
However, we find ourselves stretching our physical and emotional limits on a daily basis, for a simple reason that this is acceptable and part of our day to day survival. But surviving like this, takes its toll on our fitness.
Meet Denise- a 30 something stay-at-home mom of three, who has struggled to lose her post-baby weight for over 2 years now. All 3 pregnancies were difficult- marred with pregnancy induced thyroiditis, pre-eclampsia culminating in emergency C-sections and now she has osteoarthritis and is considered clinically obese.
In her words- ‘The Book of Denise’ prophesizes more plagues to come and she is used to being diagnosed with one thing after another ever now and then. But now, she wanted things to change.
Denise and I discussed how she arrived at the crossroads of her life. She admitted she was always anxious as a child and young adult and her anxiety snow-balled after a rapid succession of pregnancies and the multiple roles she has had to play in the interim- a housewife, a mother, a partner, an accountant, a lover, a dutiful daughter, the grocery monitor! She felt the urge to start working again but felt obliged to her children, her home and commitments to her aging parents. She found it hard to turn down anyone. The guilt outweighed the inconvenience and hardship the extra work would cause. Denise was the proverbial shoulder everyone could count on crying on but no one bothered to ask her how she was doing. Her husband was used to having a grumpy and tired wife at all times and the spark in their relationship was waning.
Clearly, Denise had trouble setting up boundaries and had lost touch with her innate ability to identify how much is too much. We came up with simple measures to allay her anxieties. Denise was encouraged to look at the bright things in the mundane day to day routine- opting for a more scenic route while driving, selecting a good selection of music to play in her car for the times she would be stuck in traffic, when travelling with kids- take frequent stops- do not relegate them in front of screens to keep them occupied- that is another can of worms for another blog topic!
Like Denise, we all could be helped (including myself) by being reminded of some self help measures to find ourselves relieve our stress and anxieties:
- Plan ahead- don’t fret!
We can never predict what curve ball life can throw at us, but we can feel more equipped when we have a plan A, B and C. (And it is OK if plan C can be implanted before plan B- Be Flexible!). A mental rehearsal of possible scenarios helps provide a better outcome to unexpected changes.
- Be Flexible! As simple as that.
- If things go south (and I am not referring to snowbirds) – remember to breathe. Deep abdominal breathing increases oxygenation, helps lower heart rate, blood pressure, influences the nervous system and reduces cortisol levels, thereby reducing stress.
- Focus on one thing at a time. You are not scoring any brownie points for multi-tasking.
- Focus on the positive – when life throws lemons- make lemonade!
- Start delegating – there is only so much you can worry about getting things done. Prioritize your tasks and shed some load.
Denise soon found out that these small steps helped manage her anxieties better (I opted not to actively treat her anxiety with Homeopathy, since I had a bigger fish to fry- I had to address the thyroid issues and joint pains with her constitutional remedy) and that she was back in touch with her body. She no longer felt she was haplessly running on a treadmill of service expected by family and friends and no longer felt powerless to ask for support. She is recovering beautifully in her body, mind and spirit and her husband has found his wife back.
The key is to modify the wrong thinking of self deluded indispensability or wrong lifestyle of continual activity that trigger these physical and emotional complaints. The resultant anger, guilt, vexation and grief form fertile grounds for chronic diseases and merely helping such patients with remedies alone is not enough. I like to equip them with self help measures that are easy to implement and provide reproducible results every time, albeit catered differently to different constitutional and temperament types.
I took a leaf out of the edited book of Denise and chose to break up my 28 hour plane journey to a 3 day stop-over in Amsterdam. This itinerary ensured my kids were less jet-lagged and we were all able to enjoy our pilgrimage and vacation. There is no doubt, when you look at this picture that I am at Ease!