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Coping with Stress (Grade: Needs Improvement!)

Friday, February 15, 2013

I need to find better methods to cope with stress. I am not sleeping well at night.
Then I am tired during the day so I over-consume caffeine .
My sleeping medication no longer helps me get more than 5 hours of sleep (ummm… I do realize this is likely related to caffeine consumption as well as stress) emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

On my Spark goals for February so far: although I am keeping up well with exercise, freggies, and tracking, I am having unanticipated trouble with consuming and overeating sweets.

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Too many sweets + sugar free energy beverages have led to upset stomach, acid reflux, and unpleasant intestinal reactions – similar to a self inflicted stomach flu.
I have kept to my goal of no more than 2 alcoholic beverages per week (1/2 glass wine this week, at book club). And as mentioned above, I am nowhere near to improving my sleep situation; if anything I’m worse.

Usually I make positive and good decisions that help control stress. Right now, the factors are out of my control. Mom is dying, and I need to keep traveling back and forth to her nursing home (550 miles away) while she is so critically ill. The airfare/hotel/car rental fees add up and impact my budget (I am glad that I have built up savings for an emergency!)

Work related stress is pretty big -- I work fulltime at a challenging job; it entails long irregular hours and timelines. My co-worker is off due to an emergency and I am covering her assignment as well as my own. And our organization just announced we will be going through a merger at a national level.

So here are my plans for the next few days. I fly to California to see mom early tomorrow. I will not drink any energy drinks for the next 3 days; that will help me cut caffeine. (I can’t take the beverages on the plane, and I haven’t found any place that sells my preferred brand where my mom lives. So it will be easy to quit cold turkey). I will allow myself 2-3 cups of coffee instead to avoid caffeine withdrawal (I think I am drinking the equivalent of 6-7 cups daily in my energy drinks). I will not have any sweets for the next 4 days. I will walk in the hills behind mom’s rest home while mom is sleeping or semiconscious (maybe with my sisters – I’ll suggest they bring walking shoes). I can do this!

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I DO usually sleep better when I am traveling and away from home. I have a home office, which I LOVE. But it is difficult to get away from work. And the home office portion of my home is a MESS (again), which for me is likely a symbol of stress or depression (and mess CREATES stress for me). My plan: I will spend some time today organizing files and throwing out huge amounts of old paperwork that I no longer need; and filing old files. Goal is four hours of filing/cleaning by end of Wednesday. One possibility for the future: if/when organization merger is completed; I may consider shared office space with an affiliated organization.

Mom update: She was semi-comatose one week ago, and sinking fast. Then on Tuesday she perked up, was livelier, started eating and tasting her food again, reciting poetry, and conversing relatively coherently. Her vital signs improved (except blood pressure is still very low) and her breathing and lungs were better. Per the hospice RNs, with her congestive heart failure, she has a heart attack, then recovers somewhat, in a repeating pattern (4 heart attacks so far). Mom said: Take down the black crepe! My brother cancelled his flight to see her; I am still going because I LIKE being there when she is aware of my presence.

It may be considered tacky by some to plan ahead like this -- but I ordered a nice black dress for the funeral (I wear 16W and don’t always have good options unless I go on-line or shop through a catalogue). The dress looked cheap and unflattering when it arrived, so it is going back in the mail today. I was hoping for an option other than a black business suit, but my business suit looks much nicer than that flimsy dress that clings because of static electricity from the synthetic fabric. The static electricity made it so form fitting that I felt like a 1950s pinup girl bursting out of her sweater… (Or an overstuffed sausage – but the curvy pinup girl is a kinder gentler way of looking at my image in the mirror)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm sorry to hear that you are going through so much right now. Hang in there and be good to you. Get as much sleep as you can. That will really help, I think. Reality is reality and you are not being morbid...just realistic. I hope mom is doing well and resting peacefully. Keep up the good work! Thanks for the encouragement! Spark on! emoticon emoticon
    1946 days ago
    I don't think it is tacky at all to look for a nice dress for the funeral! Especially as your mother has prepared everything ahead. Having something you like to wear that day would be like doing your part for it to be celebrating her.

    I hope you can have a special time with her this weekend. I admire you for keeping up with your goals and changing little things when it doesn't work as well as you would like to. More than anything, I hope you will sleep better.
    1951 days ago
    I wish I were nearby so that I could help somehow. The last thing you need right now is to have job worries, or to be trying to cover someone else's work responsibilities as well as your own.

    I hope that your mother is able to enjoy your visit this week-end, and that you are can create some more happy memories of time spent with her. I'm sure the extra expense of all the travelling is difficult to handle.

    Preparing ahead for something to wear to the funeral is just good sense. I'm sorry the dress you ordered didn't work out. It's always difficult to judge what something will be like from a catalogue or online. i knowthat you didn't want to wear your business suit, but it will be fine if you don't have a chance to look for something else.

    At this point, Alison, you're doing everything you can do, and it's taking a toll on your health. I'm glad that you are getting exercise as often as you can, but the sleep deprivation is going to catch up with you. Try to rest whenever you can, and remember that we are all thinking about you.

    Gail emoticon
    1953 days ago
    Sounds like there might be good reason for a lot of the stress - you've got a lot going on! I agree with you that limiting the energy drinks while you're away might be a good experiment. I've had trouble sleeping and have seen improvement with really gently yoga stretching and some breathing exercises about an hour before bed. Don't know if that would be of any use to you, but it has helped me with both stress and sleep.

    I know you'll find what works for you if you just keep trying different things. Meanwhile, I hope that the work and family stressors fade.

    :) Gail

    1953 days ago
    I don't think it is morbid at all to shop for a funeral are simply taking care of a task that you will soon face. I do understand your wanting to be there......I believe I wold feel the same way.

    1953 days ago
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