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Lately, I’ve noticed that I get headaches when I’m under a lot of stress (probably from shallow breathing) as my mind desperately tries to quickly come up with a way out of the situation I’m clearly resisting. As an introvert, noise alone is a stress. I savor the peace and quiet.
Therefore, imagine my dilemma when I chose to torment myself the other day by hitting the grocery store with my three kids. The youngest, only three, seems to always find super-human energy around nap time. Unless I quickly get what I need (yeah, right), I run the risk of her throwing a tantrum, with a side of running amuck, topped with an unhealthy number of attempts to get lost. The other day, she went completely off-grid at least as many times as I have fingers.
I don’t remember my other two doing this to me.
While I handled my outward reactions well and my brain didn’t explode in its attempt to keep up, by the time I returned home a headache had started.
My body screamed, “I’m drained. Must have coffee,” even though coffee is never what actually reenergizes me. Cupping that hot mug in my always cold hands gives me the feeling of relaxing – which was what I needed.
After nearly thirty minutes brewing three pots of coffee on a Mr. Coffee pot that couldn’t seem to keep the filter out of the grinds, I was finally able to sit down to a cup of grind-free decaf with a splash of hazelnut creamer.
Add a side of french bread with Land o’Lakes spread and I entered into a mini tranquility zone – until three minutes in when I caught myself saying to the kids (who were all sitting at the table with me), “Can’t I enjoy my coffee for a few minutes first?”
My three-year-old had decided she wanted to tease her big sister by stealing her diary keys. Guess I should have bought little sister her own diary earlier that afternoon. Parent fail.
My headache persisted a little while longer when the noise level remained elevated (older daughter crying, television volume failing to drown her out). Desperate to figure out a way to write my headache away, I broke away from the commotion, grabbed my notebook, a pen, and retreated to my bathroom which happened to be the farthest point from the chaos.
Some part of me wishes all life’s problems could be solved in this manner – run, hide, gather your thoughts, and all is okay. But while this crazy idea may not work for everything, maybe it is a good place to start.
Recharging is the key to your reactions
While there is nothing I can do about much of the stress in my life (I’m stuck with the kids forever, I’m told), I can control how I react and recharge. For me, it starts with actively seeking out time for myself (no matter how short) and fill that time with as much nurturing as I can.
One of my favorite things these days is to listen to podcasts or HayHouse Radio while I’m in the shower. The programs I choose are inspiring and help me to wash away all the toxic self-sabotaging thoughts. Days like these, when I can’t imagine what others around me were thinking as they witnessed my youngest play her wild card, it can be easy to fall into the I’m a horrible parent death spiral. Taking time to recenter reminds me that this is just part of the life I signed up for and some days will be better than others.
All the work I’ve been putting into bettering myself over the last year really proved itself that day. I could have lost complete control of my emotions, but I didn’t. It seems as though I’ve learned how unrealistic it is to expect to just carry on after stressful moments without taking time to heal. Just as anyone would expect a person to require proper grieving time after the death of a loved one, give yourself permission to unwind after a stressful day. It’s when we allow our daily stresses to pile up over time that causes breakdown – mentally and/or physically.
Recharge like your life depends on it
I’ve been emotionally broken before and I don’t wish to go back there. Anyone who’s been there and back knows what I mean. But it’s not a victory to be won once and then you’re cured. It’s a daily practice. The meditation, the yoga, the writing, the reading, the walks in nature, the affirmations – everything together builds this foundation and ultimately a wall that, I feel, separates me from my old self. At any point, if I neglect to maintain my practice, the wall could come crashing down.
Be vigilant and protect your sacred time for reconnecting to your inner self, that part of you that wants to guide you through this delicate life journey. Protect it as the prince in “Beauty & the Beast” protected his rose – like your life depends on it.
Because it does. I’m sure of it.