Today in therapy…

I’m cataloging what I learned here so that I don’t forget later.

First, a story: I’m not supposed to go back to work until Monday, which would give me nearly 3 weeks off to recover from surgery. However, with my husband’s upcoming hernia repair on the 19th, I thought it wise to return to work a bit early. (Plus, I’m feeling fine. And plus, it would be nice to go ahead and start catching up on the workload.)

So, on Tuesday, I headed back to work. Things went fine: no extra tiredness, no issues with eating or my G tube, all was well. I went in around 9 with permission to leave whenever I felt like it. I worked until about 4:30 without any problems, but one thing made me want to hit the highway: irritation. I won’t go into details of the situation since it’s a very minor thing, but one of my bosses can drive me crazy at times. I felt that twinge of irritation, and thought, “you know, I don’t want to feel this way. I’ve had a great 2 weeks off, I don’t have to be here, and I just want to stay relaxed.” So that’s when I left for the day. No big deal.

So when I relayed that story in my counseling session today, my psychologist about had a heart attack, she was so pleased. She was glad that I noticed the difference in my stress level immediately upon returning to work. She was glad that instead of embracing it, I recognized that I don’t like that high-strung, high-stress, anxiety-ridden feeling. And, as she put it, I was thriving on that energy when I first came to see her.

So we talked a lot today about stress management and things I can do to maintain the level of calm I’ve enjoyed during my time off of work. I expressed that this journey isn’t just about weight loss, it’s about living a better life and that means enjoying it more. I don’t want to be over-burdened and irritated all the time. I want to take better care of myself now.

So here’s what I’m to do: every day, I need to sit and write in a journal about my emotions. There are a million names for the emotions, but the positives are generally gratitude, joy, and happiness, while the negatives are anger, fear, and sadness. I need to concentrate on those negative emotions. I need to write about what made me feel that way until I feel the emotion well up inside me again, and then I am to stop writing immediately, and focus on my body’s physical response. If I’m angry, I need to yell, throw cottonballs, or punch a pillow (or something like that). If I’m sad, I need to cry until it’s all out, even if that means falling asleep from exhaustion. If I’m afraid, I need to pace in order to simulation “flight” of the “fight or flight” response.

Then, after 5 or 10 minutes of that physical response, I can return to journaling, reflecting on what I can do about those emotions and putting a plan into action.

The point is to allow my body to release pent up energy. That released energy relieves what would have otherwise been stress.

If I encounter those emotions while I’m not at home, I will practice breathing exercises to relieve stress and then deal with the emotions once I’m home.

And as silly as this sounds, this is the plan for coping with stress as I go back to work.

Oh! And I can remember 4 rules to life that make stress meaningless:

  1. The Universe (or God, in my view) always provides. It’s the lilies of the field principles: they don’t worry about what they wear, neither should I. Birds don’t worry about food, neither should I. God provides.
  2. Control is an illusion. The only thing I can control is my attitude, and that’s through using coping strategies. Things happen, that’s life.
  3. I’m always where I’m supposed to be. There’s a purpose, there aren’t mistakes, and I don’t have to try to be anywhere else I’m not.
  4. Oh shoot, I forgot the fourth one. I’ll edit the post if I remember it.

Ok, I’m wrapping it up. These are my exercises for managing stress. I’ll let you know if it really works!

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3 Responses

  1. That all sounds great Meg! I hope that it goes really well for you – I need to be able to manage my stress too, but I’m not very good at it.

    It sounds like you’re doing really well, and I’m so glad that you’ve gone back to work – you’ll be glad you did when Lee has his surgery.

  2. No worry?! Then, what would I do?!

  3. I love the 4 rules! All good things to remember…well, at least three of them are! I’ll get back to you on the other one!

    Stress is a hard one and I don’t react well to it at all. My stress is a little different because I work in a very intimate atmosphere by working for my church. So when one of the few crazies come in there and stress me to the hilt, well, it’s just tricky. Hard stuff, but you seem to be doing really well!

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