Ever have that feeling – that if you could actually find a moment of quiet, you’d like to fill it with huge sobbing tears. But they’re all stuck inside because you just don’t have time and don’t have the “space” for it.
Yesterday morning I was the keynote speaker at a conference on healthy living. Yes, I was somewhat eloquent (or at least not too boring) as I talked about how we caregivers rarely we take care of ourselves and yet how important it is that we do. A day later when life has snow-balled upon me, I’m a hot mess of emotions and struggling to find those “coping” skills that seem so academic yesterday.
Here’s a few coping styles:
- Identify the emotion: I’m sad-mad as Oh so eloquently put it in the recent movie “Home.” I’m sad that my mother had to leave an event where I was being honored as a volunteer for my work on the crisis nursery because my babysitter had the gall to text and say, “A minor issue at work and I’m still here. I can’t help you tonight.” Bless my mother for saving the day (after my sister already “saved” the middle child when he poked himself in the eye….since my dad who was “watching” the kids was on the couch having spent the last 20 hours in the emergency room for chest pain two days after having surgery on his fractured wrist to put the six pieces back together!). Just a bit too much for the brain to process and the sadness made me oh so mad.
- Release the emotion by calling a friend to complain bitterly about the lack of responsibility and commitment in my sad-mad situation, but hold in the tears as the start of the work day rapidly approaches. Being that today was a “doctoring” day, there’s no dialing down of emotions, there’s an on-off switch so that I’m present 100 percent to those seeking me for comfort.
- Calm some stress by texting a friend: Very important to have a pediatrician as a friend (despite the fact that I’m technically in that category too) when your kid looks in the car mirror as he climbs in on the way to school and says, “Look, Mom, there’s blood in my eye.” How did I not notice in the rush to get the three of them up and out the door this morning?!? Come to think of it – I called that pediatrician friend first thing in the morning to calm my racing brain and texted her later in the day to calm my racing brain and texted before bed too! Very important to have patient pediatrician friends. Very good coping mechanism.
- Run away by getting outside into the sun and letting the endorphins burn off some of the stress. It’s a temporary avoidance technique as a quick check of work email during the cool-down walk is guaranteed to start the surge right off again.
- Find the duct tape to put the door back together and hold the glass in because you can’t find a hammer (maybe it went to the sister’s new house) and you can’t call your dad to fix it because his arm’s in a cast and you can’t figure out any other quick solution as you pack the kids into the car to tire them out at the playground, hoping it will get them to sleep earlier and you to a moment of peace quicker.
Prolonged activation of the stress response system can become toxic to the body. I know that. I talk to people about that quite often. I give lectures about its effects. But sometimes it’s more than I can do to find a moment for a good cry…. The duct tape was easier to find today.