Oct. 8, 2017

I have an idea for the next M. Night Shyamalan movie: A small, adorable, doe-eyed child leans toward the camera and whispers “I see stress.”

And then, from the child’s point of view, you can see the gibbering, capering stress demons that follows people around. Little miniaturized ones for people who generally have their act together but are freaked by the idea of an increase in the cost of health insurance or the fact that the roof has begun to leak. Huge, slimy ogre-like monsters for anyone who works in the service industry and has to smile politely at jerks day in and day out.

Skinny, saucer-eyed vampire monsters with mouth like straws for sucking the life away from anyone who is caring for a sick person who isn’t getting better – an aged parent, a mate sinking into depression, a child with an addiction.

Unlike a movie, no-one can see the stress in their lives. You know it’s there, but you can’t measure it; you can’t throttle it, you can’t truly understand just how invasive it is to your physical health and sanity…unless it suddenly vanishes.

My husband’s decline was slow and hard to track; then he died. That was horrible; it’s the price to a different kind of life that I cannot recommend paying. But the departure of a huge stressor was like releasing the pull on a high-tension line. I was made to hold up under that pressure; I could have continued. I WOULD have continued.

But the sudden absence is – well, it’s the reason I can spend so much time taking care of my health.

It’s odd that spending all this time and money at Body Dynamics would feel selfish. I’m still working through the fact – no, the emotion; I’ve got the logic firmly in hand – that I’m taking time away from something important; something I probably ought to be doing instead. And that’s self-defeating, because nothing relieves stress like exercise (as long as the exercise itself isn’t a stressor).

I believe that every single person is doing the absolute best he or she can every day. We take on what we can handle, and we have to prioritize. Sometimes staring slack-jawed at the TV is critical for down-time, and to add to the padding around nerve endings too often rubbed raw. We find our relief where we can…

…but from my position on the other side of a big stressor, I can say that (a) the time I spend caring for my body is important and hugely valuable and (b) I really like the relief of giving up something that made my brain wrinkle in a MOST unattractive way – that is, stress.

And now I’m making other changes to reduce stress in my life. They say stress is a killer; that may well be true. I think stress is a demon – always hungry, always on duty, always right behind you, draining your joy and your energy and your determination.

If you can find a way to reduce your stress (by exercise or by some other life change), I hope you can make that work for you. To state the very obvious, less stress is better.

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6 thoughts on “Stress

  1. This is so true … and sometimes we don’t realize how much weight the stress carries until it’s gone. It’s like we don’t realize how good it feels to sleep through the night until our children no longer wake us up. I am so glad you are spending the time and resources taking care of yourself. You deserve it and are inspiring me. Keep up the good work, dear Pru.


  2. Ugh – I remember that time when the child couldn’t sleep through the night; it’s a hazardous duty. Do you remember thinking “If I don’t go to sleep at all, no crying will jar me awake – that would be better!”? Craziness!


    1. The English Beat had a great song in the 80s called “Sugar and Stress.” Great song; who knew it was such an important message?! The combo is like chemo – what a powerful way to put it. (Hey! If I omit all stress, can I eat ice cream??! Is this the Mother’s Little Helper Loophole??!)


    1. I’ve been thinking of just how hard it is to reduce stress. Assuming you intend to live a realistic, responsible life, stress just seems to always be a part of that. Grr.


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