whole person health : emotional

June 3, 2014


I didn’t think I could do a series on whole-person health without addressing the emotional/mental side of things. Remember that this is just my own personal journey and not any kind of prescription for you. Although I have experienced true anxiety and depression in my life, I do not suffer from any chronic conditions in these areas. I have several close loved ones who do, but I am not going to address those things here because I can’t speak from personal experience.

What I am going to talk about is my own mental and emotional health, which usually boils down to managing stress. Obviously as a woman I also have hormones to deal with, and maybe I’ll discuss that in the future. Right now though, stress is a key factor.

We are just coming out of a very stressful period of life. A new baby, an adjusting toddler, a three month period of severe dog anxiety framed by the death of both of our dogs, and financial strain had me on the edge. (Thank God that during this time I didn’t have to stress about work too.) During the last month everything has improved somewhat but hasn’t disappeared and probably never will.

On Sunday morning I found myself suddenly feeling highly anxious to the point of panic. It was a normal morning and the kids were behaving and I had slept fine. Meredith was just taking forever to fill her bowl with blueberries and I randomly began to cry. My heart was racing and I felt jumpy and sad and overwhelmed. I was also surprised at this reaction because this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me very often. So this is what I did to deal with the immediate situation:

Removed myself. I told David how I was feeling and that I needed to get away from the kids and the demands of the house for a bit, and then I took a long hot shower.

Let it out. While I was in the shower I shed a few tears and talked to myself and prayed. It felt good to express the emotion I was experiencing.

Took stock. I wanted to figure out what brought this on. So once I had calmed down a bit I examined the areas of my life and how my gut felt toward them. I was scheduled to sing in church that morning, was I nervous? I don’t think so, when I thought about it I felt excited. What about work? No, my feelings were neutral there. Kids? Maybe a little stressful. Home stuff? At this point the chores were done and the house was clean but immediately my gut still felt twisty about all the things I wanted to do around the house that I didn’t have time for.

Adjust expectations. Although I’m not sure exactly why I felt so panicky that day, I think a big thing that was happening is that I was taking all the multitude of projects I wanted to do for fun and mentally putting them on a list of have-to’s. Then when I realized I couldn’t do them all I started to break down. I was losing my patience with Meredith taking so long to do one small thing when I had so many things to accomplish. I think for a goal-oriented and creative person like me, this is something I’m going to have to wrestle with my whole life. I will have to keep adjusting my expectations. Currently I have several “extra” projects that I’m working on, and for now I’m going to take a step back from a couple of them to focus on one or two.

That’s how I dealt with an acute period of stress and anxiety, and it’s also the basic formula that I use when I notice my stress level reaching a high point. The part that sometimes changes is the last point, which is the action step. It depends on the reason behind my stress as to what will relieve it. Sometimes I just need to eat something and take a walk. Sometimes I need to get organized. Sometimes I need to be super productive, like get a bunch of chores done quickly. But overall, these steps work for me: take a break, let it out, examine the situation, act.

What are your biggest stressors these days, and how do you handle them?

Posted in: health, health, natural living

Comments on whole person health : emotional

  1. 1

    From Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout:

    Wow… I can really, really relate to this. I guess we’re under a lot of the same stressors! But unfortunately a lot of the time when I feel my temperature rising, my husband is at work (he has a lot of evening meetings and has to get to church a lot earlier than I do since he works there!) I really don’t have a good coping mechanism and I end up taking out my stress on the kids by turning into a grumpy, yelling, non-patient parent. Last Sunday this happened and I was able to calm myself down long enough to tell my older boy that he needed to play quietly for a while to let mom eat something, straighten up the kitchen (it was a WRECK and making me crazy), and calm down. It worked!! Thank goodness the baby was napping at the time so I didn’t have to deal with him, too.

  2. 2

    From kapachino:

    I think we are obviously in a lot of the same situations these days! And this kind of thing happens to me when my husband isn’t around too, and it’s definitely harder to deal with. At least our older kids are at an age where it’s somewhat safe to leave them alone for a time. I have even jumped in the shower when I was home alone with the kids before just to get that break. Of course it doesn’t always work if Meredith is crying in the bathroom the whole time but sometimes it does!

  3. 3

    From Mindy:

    Oh man. I can totally relate. I do the mental-list-making-and-then-stress-about-the-intangible too, a lot! I think I need to take more time to be creative, because when I’m not, it builds and comes out in not so pretty ways (ugly crying lol). Or, I feel bad saying I NEED time away from the kids and play the whole “it’s fine” card, which isn’t healthy. I find when this happens I need to go for a walk and be outside by myself, or I need to journal stat. <–This is how I discover how I'm really feeling about things. But I think like you said, acknowledging your feelings and then making a plan of action is the best thing to do!

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