2012 has already been a stressful year and we are less than a month into it. Over the last several weeks I have had to try to learn to deal with the enormous amount of stress in my life. This stress comes from
1. My cousin/roommate, who was only supposed to be living with me temporarily, is pregnant. She finally told her mother, which is the only reason that I can even write this. This has caused a huge commotion in my family (not a good one) and I feel like they are blaming me for my cousin’s irresponsibility.
2. Results of a mammogram and FNA show that I have a fibroadenoma in my left breast. Benign, yes. Scary at first, definitely. Even though the stress of the initial results has worn off, I think that the shock, when combined with everything else, stressed me out completely.
3. Our family dog, Maximus, has been diagnosed with liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). I am now in Missouri with family, spending time with Max and with my mother. Understandably, my mother is devastated and she has sought my advice on treatment for our dog. It has put me in a very difficult situation of appeasing my mother while also making sure that Max isn’t suffering. He is now eating well, going for walks and has been less lethargic since we started him on medication (for pain management). Hopefully we continue to see some improvement in his disposition, but his prognosis is still poor.
Those three stressors combined with everything else have really made me stop and thing about how I need to handle personal stress better. As a surgeon, I can handle the stress of work no problem. It is how I handle my stress outside of work that has negatively affected my life.
So far I have tried a few different things and the results have been extremely positive! I have increased how much I work out and by that I mean not just running 50 miles a week. I have done more yoga in the mornings and Pilates once a week. I have drastically changed my diet. While I am in Missouri, my cousin is cleaning out the cabinets. Absolutely no processed foods and I am going to try to buy seasonal fare. I have eaten multiple small meals throughout the day and shying away from the larger, sit-down meals that my family insists we have. Even with the diet and activity changes, I think that the best change I have made is taking time for myself.
One of my New Year’s goals is to learn to sew. I purchased several books on pattern-making, sewing basics and choosing fabrics. I have researched sewing machines and I’m very excited to buy a machine when I get back to California! I have taken time out of every day to read the sewing books and I think that focusing on something other than the stress has, obviously, helped.
In addition to setting aside time for this new hobby, I have also been writing more. I wasn’t able to write a blog post for a while. Every time I sat down at the computer to type, I was too overwhelmed to focus. Instead I tried writing short stories and worked on streamlining my book. Not having to worry about the content specifically helped clear the writer’s block enough that I begin to formulate this post in my head.
As always, I am open to suggestions to help me deal with the stress. Some of my friends have suggested meditation, but at the moment I can’t quiet my mind enough for that to work. If you have any tried and true stress busting remedies, do share!