I need help. I'm admitting it. There is too much stress in my life that has accumulated and gone on for too long. I can't do this alone anymore. I definitely need medication. My blood pressure is dangerously high. I know it has been high for a number of years now but I've resisted medication thinking I can control it because I eat such a low-fat diet, don't drink, exercise, etc. At this point, the doctor told me it has nothing to do with a healthy weight or exercise. My blood pressure is too high and I need to take action.
I wonder how much of the stress the past years have brought play into this. High blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks run on both sides of my family and it is how we end up dead. I still feel like a failure to some extent. That I'm unable to control this aspect of my health since I've tried for so long to keep it together emotionally. But as I started this post, I am finally at a point where I'm waving the white flag and crying out "Help me!" Since I don't have much of a support network in place, that ends up increasing the stress I try and manage on my own. It turns out to be an endless circle of frustration. The past few weeks many times during the day I can feel my heart racing inside my chest. When I have my blood pressure taken, I can feel and hear that racing.
I am going to become one of those people stopping at the blood pressure meter every time I go into the grocery store by the pharmacy counter!
Well, I have to take care of myself physically and if I need blood pressure medication so be it. I hope this is not a permanent thing. But the alternative is having a stroke which isn't an option here. I've helped the men and women stroke victims in the nursing home, some quite young. I can't do that to the boys. Or myself.
I came across another article on managing stress and decided to go through it and highlight the suggestions. They are always the same and we all know them. In fact, I'm sure I've posted about them a time or two previously. But they bear repeating.
1. Acknowledge the pain, stress, grief or loss. Feel the anger and sadness. It is okay to feel some self pity. But you can't let these feelings overpower you.
2. The painful feelings have to eventually give way to those of hope. To manage stress and crisis we need to be centered and calm and that won't be possible when in defeat and despair. So we need to harness abundance, gratitude, positivity and peace of mind as best we can. We can look to the future as holding opportunity, being an adventure and a new beginning instead of being fearful of what lies ahead.
3. We must take care of ourselves physically and emotionally. Eating well and exercising are essential.
4. Relying and connecting with others is also necessary.
5. Developing a strategy and plan for moving forward can help us focus on the learning opportunities available to us and allow us to grow.
6. It is a perfect time to become distracted with and explore a new project or goal. Sometimes it is far better to focus on an activity or learning something new than dwelling on our troubles.
7. Live one day at a time.
8. Maintaining a sense of order brings us a measure of control. Letting ourselves and our environments fall apart does not result in feeling calm or comfort us - more like tormenting and mocking us.
9. Come up with positives for the situation or in lieu of that, positives that can result in the future that may not have been considered before.
10. Maintaining the daily routine as much as possible is helpful. I know that my husband did this through all the years of his illness and I could not believe how he managed to do it. It was an amazing demonstration of strength and courage.
I look over this list and it is made up of the same old suggestions and ideas I've come across over and over. Does that mean they work or is it because no one else has come up with any better? I also know that this advice is common sense and easier said than done.
Yesterday, after my hopeful and inspiring post on optimism I ran into some snags during the day and felt let down and defeated. Some of that hope I'd harnessed before went by the wayside. I forced myself to take another nature walk and the best I could come up with as a coping mechanism was to keep my thoughts neutral rather than go off the deep end into the gloom and doom.
Sometimes, it seems as if this advice is so simplistic. We tend to look at life's problems as being singular - someone is coping with grief because of the death of a spouse; someone lost their job or home; another person is dealing with divorce or illness. I take a more complicated view of stress because I think where there is one problem, so lies another. And I think in addition to viewing problems singly, which makes them easier to solve, is that we don't put enough attention on the long-term effects of stress. We tend to view solving problems quickly and efficiently (usually within a year time frame). But I think the recession has shown us that problems and life complications can exist greater than a year and be harder to overcome.
So I find that there is a gap in acknowledging, understanding and coping with the long-term effects of stress. And what about set backs? Or having to manage the difficulty of climbing out of a very deep hole? All that one step forward, two step back progression.
Food for thought. In the meantime, we plow on as best we can. I look at the strategies I've set out and try to come up with some project that may help me focus less on all this loss and find more hope in the future. I try to exercise when I feel the walls of despair closing in on me. I do my best to change my mindset when I am aware of my negative thinking. More of the same old, same old with varying degrees of success depending on the day.