Grace Michaelson

Moderation, Stress, and Busyness!

Apr
11

What are the first three most important rules of staying healthy when you struggle with a chronic illness? 1. Moderate, 2. Moderate, 3. Moderate.  Stress and Busyness are killer symptom-activators for chronic illness.  If you want to stay healthy, you have got to moderate.  Do I sound like I’m preaching a sermon?  Well, I’m not preaching at you, I’m preaching to myself.  That’s right, I’m the worst when it comes to moderating.

Stress is my middle name.  No, actually, it’s Réne, but it seems like it’s “Stress” because every time I turn around I have something stressful knocking on my front door.  Recently it has been mold growing in my oldest son’s room.  We had to get a Mold Remediating Company to come to our house… blah, blah, blah! Yeah, it was a headache of stressful proportions.  I have lived my life surviving one thing after the other with the mentality of closing my eyes and stating to myself “This too shall pass… this too shall pass… this too shall pass…”  It definitely passed, but it was always replaced by that next stressful thing.

Obviously I have had it wrong this whole time because my symptoms have been totally out of control.  Sticking my head in the sand like an ostrich definitely isn’t the answer, is it?  So what’s the answer, if life is full of stressful and unhealthy busyness that we can’t control?  What can we do to not just survive life, but actually learn to master our life and even enjoy life despite our stress and busyness?  The answer is moderate.

So what is moderation?  The definition of moderation is:  the avoidance of excess or extreme’s in one’s behavior.  The action of making something less extreme.  The Thesaurus says: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-command, self-discipline, temperance, leniency, and fairness.

Basically, what we’re looking to do in our lives is to avoid excess.  If we can control the busyness instead of the busyness controlling us.  When things get stressful, as they will inevitably become, it’s important to take that step back and ask ourselves what we have stopped doing in our disciplines that we need to get back to.  Are we going to bed at a descent time? Avoid extreme bedtimes.  Are we drinking a moderate amount of water?  Not too much, not too little.  Are we exercising moderately based on our physical ability?  Again, avoiding extremes.

Sometimes even our disciplines feel like too much when life stresses us out.  So sometimes we need to take a further step back and ask ourselves what we need to do.  Last week I was at the point where I was so stressed out I was at my max.  So I canceled everything.  I needed a week for a checkpoint to figure out what had gone wrong.  I called my doctor.  I spent some time rejuvenating spiritually, emotionally, physically.  It was a mini self-imposed vacation.

Sometimes you’ve got to do that for yourself when things have gone too far.  You just can’t force yourself through forever.  Nobody has a “get up an go button” that works forever.  Invariably it breaks and it should break.  Instead of forcing yourself through the stress, you need to find a different way to handle life’s stress.  I have found that that different way is the first three rules of staying healthy… moderation.  See if it works for you.

Grief, How Angry Thou Art

Feb
23

What is grief?  What grief in it’s raw, real, natural state?  Does it just happen when someone dies?  No, I don’t think so.  Grief is loss.  Loss happens with all kinds of stages in life.

What does grief feel like?  For me it feels like a sob stuck in my chest.  It feels like the worst anger I have ever felt.  It feels like betrayal.  It feels like helplessness.  It feels like chaos.  For someone who is a type A personality like myself, grief is the last thing I want to experience.  Therefore, it is the one experience I must let myself experience and complete in order to stay healthy.  I can’t be the best mom to my kids or the best wife to my husband, or the best writer unless I allow myself to process grief.

I am going to lay myself bare here:  I am currently grieving.  As I write this article, my son is going through an experience that is totally grieving my heart.  I feel helpless to help him.  It is the last thing I wanted for his senior year of high school.  He is supposed to be enjoying his last year of high school, making friends, looking forward to his senior prom, graduation, making plans for college, dreaming for his future, making good grades.  Instead, we’re trying to fit all those things around a huge health problem.  This is not what any good mother wants for their child.  Therefore grief.

I think what has hit me hardest of all has been anger.  What happened to “do not let the sun go down on your anger”, Dear Grief?  Haven’t you heard of that?  You’re making me into a very bad Christian, do you know that, Dear Grief?  Wow.  Everytime I go through grief, the anger, and the intincity of the anger, surprises me.  Yet, this too is normal.  This too is the process.  This too must be allowed and must be owned.  It’s not owned as who I am, but as something that is OK to experience as part of grief.  The more I fight it, the less I will be.  I can’t stop grieving until I’ve allowed myself to be angry that I have lost that which I expected to keep.  

It’s OK Christian brother or sister, God can handle your anger.  He knows your angry anyway.  Trying to trick yourself so that you hopefully trick God is like trying to trick your mom that you didn’t eat the cookie when you were little.  Just calm down the mind games and admit it.  Your feeling anger and it’s OK.  That doesn’t make you a bad Christian.  It just makes you human.  Remember, Jesus felt anger, too.  He was grieved by the way his Father’s Temple was used for bartering and he took a whip and beat the crap out of everyone and overturned tables while being very angry.  God considers his son perfect and without blame.  Yet, his son was angry and grieved.  Interesting.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that, I’m learning through grief that I am not my feelings.  I am learning that anger is not something to be scared of, but part of the process to health.  I am learning that grief is probably one of the most painful things I will ever experience, but one of the things that I have to let run its course.  If I try to pretend I’m done with it before it’s finished, or if I try to stuff it, or if I try to impede its progress in anyway I can kiss my mental or physical or even spiritual health good bye until I allow the grief process its due process.  Therefore, to all my grieving partners, carry on.  This too shall pass, but let it pass…leave no pebble unturned.