I think one of my major challenges in this journey toward better health is learning how to deal with stress in a more productive and positive way. It's clear that "eating stress" isn't a solution, so I'm always on the lookout for alternatives to shoving something into my mouth.
One of the techniques that helps in stress-relief/relaxation is visualization. Fancy name for daydreaming and using your imagination.
It's a huge gift, this thing we can do, to go into our mind and escape to another place and time, if only for a few moments.
My husband and I are facing some hard decisions as we are struggling financially, as so many others are these days. We have a consultation with an attorney tomorrow to discuss options, one of which is bankruptcy. I never thought this would happen to me, because we live frugally and don't spend frivolously, but when I got sick and we lost my income, it hit hard. Our credit scores are excellent and we're current right now, but in just a few months it will get ugly and I need to do something before that happens.
So, with all of that comes a big fat ugly pile of stress. Both my husband and I had problems sleeping last night, and at 3am I realized he needed to get to sleep or work was going to be nasty for him today. We were both amped up and I knew I needed to do something or he was going to be up all night.
He's not as interested in things like relaxation therapy as I am, so of course he's not developed any skills in visualization. I decided to take some of his favorite things and do what the therapists call "guided visualization" with him. Of course, I didn't TELL HIM or he would have been skeptical and possibly resistant.
He's recently discovered Origami and he's pretty good at it. He's also a huge fan of monkeys and goats. So, I told him to close his eyes and imagine a piece of Origami paper, one of his favorite patterns. Then I told him to imagine writing down all of our problems and then folding it into a Lotus. I continued on, having him describe one of his favorite types of monkeys (don't ask me; I'm not enamored) and told him to hand the Lotus to the monkey. Then came the goat, who of course is great friends with the monkey, and told him to imagine the monkey riding the goat, taking the Lotus with them, off into the distance...
By this time, he was completely relaxed and fell asleep. I know, the monkey with the origami riding the goat...yeah, it's all a bit odd, but he's seen vids of goat-riding monkeys and they make him laugh. All the things in the story (with the exception of the problems that were written on the paper) are things he enjoys and that he can "see" easily in his mind.
I'm happy to report that my personal visualizations are nothing quite so utterly bizarre, but, Hey, whatever it takes to literally get you through the night.
Personally, I like to do the breathing thing (in through the nose, out through the mouth) while imagining my problems floating away up into the night like those beautiful sky lanterns...
...or watching them float downstream and out of sight like a leaf in a river...
...or gently blowing them away like the seeds of a dandelion...
Another thing I've been doing lately, every morning and every night is going through this list and actively letting go.
My point is, and I actually do have one after all of this, is that although we are facing some seriously stressful stuff, there are things out there that work. And those things will save my life.
And if all else fails, there's always a monkey riding a goat somewhere. ;-)