my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

January 4th, 2013

My January Revolution: Dealing with Stress

One of my New Year’s Revolutions is to ramp up a sense of healthy living now that the terror of the complications from my pregnancy and the massive disease attack has subsided. It’s only taken two and a half years! Each month, like I said, I’m going to try and tackle an aspect of my life, not that I’d like to fix per se, but that I’d like to evolve a la AJ Jacobs. I’ve decided that January is the month I’m going to think about stress.

It’s an all encompassing term, sort of like “depressed” that people toss around left and right without really taking a moment to consider what it actually means either literally or figuratively. For me, stress, and worry in particular, is the number one reason the disease becomes active in the first place. When I am too busy, too stretched, worrying all the time, freaking out, panicked, upset, terrified–it ramps up my immune system which is a signal for the disease to jump into action. This is not scientific, this is just me living with Wegener’s for the better part of two decades.

The weekend before I came back to work, I was at a spa with my darling friend Heather. I was looking forward to it immensely after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, of cooking two giant meals, of intense days spent with a two-year-old. And it was amazing, except for one small thing–I have absolutely no idea how to relax. Oh sure, I know how to be comatose in front of the television after a long day. But I don’t honestly know how not be so go-go-go all the time and laying down for a straight 24-hour period of people rubbing oils and lotions etc into my body was amazing but perhaps a little lost on me. We did a chakra realignment treatment–it was incredible–except every single one of my chakras are blocked. The therapist kept telling me to visualize a colour associated with a particular chakra and in my mind I got it wrong every single time. This was not the fault of the therapist. This is all me. I can’t quiet my mind. And since I’m too busy for restorative yoga these days, I don’t even have that hour space in the week where I could meditate and rest.

There’s a viable difference between being still and simply not moving. Being still incorporates a mindful, healthy essence–it’s breathing, it’s contemplation, it’s restoration. Not moving is just that–it’s sitting, mind whirring, iPad still on, spelling game in check, bad TV on full and putting in the time before bed. You’re too tired to do anything else. Being still takes work. Not moving, not so much. It’s a subtle difference, but I’m not being very still these days. Sure, there are stretches of time where I’m not moving but my brain buzzes over lists and things that I need to do the next day and moving forward and keeping on keeping on and work and RRBB and this and that and that and this and all of a sudden it’s 3AM and I haven’t slept for the fourth time this week and my kid’s going to wake up in an hour and wow I’m flapjacking tired.

So. Still.

There was an hour when we attended a yoga meditation session. I did pranayama breathing and for the first time in months I was still. It was the best part of the time I spent at the spa. The treatments were amazing but they aren’t something I can afford or realistically do regularly (except massage is covered by my benefits at work). But the meditation, well, that’s something I can try. My friend Kat has written a great introductory ebook (published in March), that has some terrific tips in it, and I’ve decided the book I’m going to read this month is When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté. I’m also looking for any bits and kernals of information anyone out there would like to share about how they deal with stress, about what else I might read, what other things I could do… About what really causes it and what it truly is. I’m embarking on stillness. That’s my goal for January.

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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