Even in a "normal" world, stress is difficult to handle. Dealing with multiple sclerosis or any type of chronic illness magnifies the ill effects of stress.
My hope is that Cathy Chester's article is a comfort this weekend. As I look over her list of stress relievers, I am in total agreement with her personal salve for a less stressful existence. My family and friends offer a welcome comfort on stressful days. While I do not actively meditate, my yoga practice (my exercise of choice) allows ample Zen to my day. Yes, I pray; maybe not as much for myself as others. I need to concentrate on me a little more in this respect. Journal-ling has always been my outlet and I am glad to see that it made Cathy's list. sand, of course, my lazy kitty kat is always a comfort. Even when she insists on attention, misses the litter box (completely), insists on sleeping in the middle of my unmade bed ALL DAY, and sheds constantly.
So, this weekend I plan to focus on all of the wonderful ways that I can be distracted from my MS.
My cousin told me the other day that she believes things happen the way they are supposed to happen, and I quite agree. Life unravels itself the way it’s supposed to, and because it does I’ve often contemplated what “the Big Picture is.” I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never know what the Big Plan is from the Person Upstairs, or how She/He came up with the playbook. So I’ll sit back in my easy chair and let it all play out.
I’m not a religious person, but a spiritual one, recognizing the beauty and wonder we experience on life’s journey. I try to see the glass half full and live my life by seeing the good in everything.
But sometimes life throws us a curve, and without those curves we’d never recognize the beauty. There are some curves that are more difficult to maneuver. They cause us to feel sad, anxious or fearful. We can get lost in their midst or try to find our footing.
Our spirit is tested during times of adversity. Will we wither and spin out of control, or rely on our inner strength and faith to pull us through?
During times of adversity it’s important to have an anchor, something to lean on to help us maintain our strength. When life through us a curve we need to be ready.
Here are a few of my anchors that I lean on during difficult and stressful times:
Friends and Family: Reach out to loved ones. Put your trust in them to help you through your darkest days. There’s no shame in reaching out to others. That’s what unconditional love is all about.
Meditation: Meditating is extremely beneficial in calming your mind. According to a recent article in Forbes,meditation can change key areas of the brain that affect levels of fear, stress, anxiety and mood improvements. I try to meditate at least 5 – 10 minutes a day. Here’s Meditation 101 for beginners.
Prayer: According to Dr. Roberta Lee in her book “The Super Stress Solution,” “Research shows that people who are more religious or spiritual use their spirituality to cope with life. They’re better able to cope with stress, they heal faster from illness, and they experience increased benefits to their health and well-being.”
Journaling: Writing your thoughts in a journal can calm your mind. I love the blog “Tiny Buddha” and here she offers advice on 10 journaling tips to help you heal, grow and thrive.
Exercise: Exercise has been found to be beneficial when dealing with stress. As The Mayo Clinic says, “Exercise is meditation in motion.”
Outlets: I watch old sitcoms (of course M*A*S*H or The Mary Tyler Moore Show), movies (my husband and I have watched His Girl Friday – 1940 – a zillion times and we almost know it by heart), knit or read to relax and de-stress. They calm my mind and distract stressful thoughts.
Pets: Spending time with our beloved furry friends is a true blessing. They give us unconditional love. I am thankful that at 9 years old my wise son insisted we adopt our first cat. I will never again be cat-free!