September 19, 2014

The War on Stress

I've been extra stressed out at my day job for the last month or so. Stress at this job is nothing new for me and, for the most part, I deal with it. I am no stranger to stress. I've been at war with it for over twenty years. I am thirty-four years old.

I'm not a medical expert by any means of the imagination. I just know what has happened to me. And, as I commented on Twitter earlier this week, blogging is my therapy.

There are many constant themes in my life, mainly achieving balance and stress relief. I internalize. I don't talk about what is bothering me, I keep it in and, eventually, my body shuts down. I have no conscious warning of this. There is a complete separation of state and church.

This week, my blood pressure dropped to a disturbingly low measurement for me. I went to my doctor right away and had lab work done. As a temporary measure, my doctor told me to add salt to my diet since my sodium was low. But the real crux of the issue, the problem no one except my husband knows, is stress. My morning cortisol levels were well above the normal range and more than double my afternoon measurements. So, I did what anyone else would do, I googled 'cortisol' and found out it is the stress hormone. There actually is a way your body informs you, medically, that you are under stress.

Stress is real. Stress can cause medical conditions. I have had several stress-related conditions over the years. When I was a child, both my arms stopped functioning for almost a year with no medical explanation. Later, as an adult I suffered from stomach problems and headaches. Now, the latest problem is low blood pressure. My doctor told me my body doesn't like me. I believe him.

How to become 'friends' with my body again? Relax. I need to shut off the 'Twitter-like' stream of thoughts constantly bombarding my brain and relax. Easier said than done. I've been trying for years to relax. Relaxing or not doing the things that I think I should do also stresses me out and makes me feel guilty. If I'm reading a book (which I love doing), running through the back of my mind are all the things I should be doing instead. Then, when I finish the book, instead of the happy feeling I should have, I feel terrible.

I'm losing the war on stress. It's literally kicked my butt this time and has kept me pinned on my back. It's time for the heavy arsenal. It's time to figure out why I put so much pressure on myself and how I can relax without feeling guilty. I don't have any answers, but it know this cannot be my life. I need to become friends with my body again. We are on the same side. I know there's no way I can win the war without it.

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