Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘stress’

Stress: It’s a Matter of Control

Seth Godin: “Every time I find myself wishing for an external event, I realize that I’m way better off focusing on something I can control instead.”

I cannot control everything.

I can only control what I can control.

When I am stressed, it is because I feel out of control of my life.

When I feel out of control, it is because I am trying to control things that I cannot control.

For example, I cannot control what (or if) Papa Bear earns. I can control what I spend my money on. 

I can’t change how much I owe the world right now, but I can change how and when I work. I can choose not to be distracted by Facebook and Mahjongg and interesting but distracting articles on digestive health and French fashion … I can choose to work smart AND hard, instead of goofing off when I feel overwhelmed.

I can’t change what happens to me or even a lot of what happens in my life. I can change how I react to it.

And I can choose what I will stand for – and what I won’t.

I can't control what happens to me - but I can control what I allow

A Happiness Perspective

In this pursuit of happiness we call life, there are those (myself among them) who would argue that the absence of stress and sickness is not the same as happiness. Well, yes. But being sick and stressed does make being happy something of a challenge. Most would agree that not being stressed and sick is a good to start towards being happy.

But are they right?

Are we stressed out and miserable because we face so much stress and fear, and get so little sleep? Or are we stressed out and miserable because we believe ourselves to be so? Regardless of what you believe about the millennia that have led to the point we now inhabit in time and space today, the fact is that stress has always been a feature of our lives. So why has it only started killing us now?

Health professionals, particularly those focusing on mental and psychological health, are starting to share research data that speculates that a large part of the danger in both stress and insomnia is our perception of the inherent danger in both stress and insomnia. Did you get that? It’s so bad for us … because we think it’s so bad for us.

That is the theory behind Kelli McGonigal’s much-watched TED Talk, titled “Making Stress Your Friend”:

It is also the theory shared in this fascinating report on just how much sleep we actually need. Research shows that “a healthy eight-hour sleep” is a mythological theory with little supporting evidence. It’s hard to see where such theories developed, but the pervasiveness of our belief in the truth of this theory means that when we don’t get our eight hours – whether we work late, wake up early, or find our sleep interrupted in the middle of the night – we believe the effects will be bad … so they are.

In other words, whether we think stress and sleep deprivation are bad for us or not, we’re right. It’s what we think that makes us ill.

Put down that glass

waterLittle Something from Art Jonak: A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

Remember to put the glass down.

A quick update

Tomorrow, it will be one year since we started SCD. Our goals included the following:

  • Fewer headaches (especially for Goldilocks and me);
  • Fewer stomach cramps (especially for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood);
  • Better concentration (esp. Papa Bear and Goldilocks);
  • Fewer mood swings (all of us);
  • Better skin (mainly me);
  • Fewer allergic reactions (all of us but especially Papa Bear);
  • Fewer nightmares (Red Riding Hood);
  • Better sleep (all of us, but esp. Papa Bear and me);
  • More energy (the Big Bears again); and
  • Better focus.

One year in, we have achieved a lot. Papa Bear isn’t taking part, but the girls and I have had 10% success in all areas except mood swings and skin. In fact, the mood swings are significantly improved, and I am sure the imminent onset of puberty isn’t helping hat’s left of them.

melaskinAs for skin, which I discussed a little while ago, we seem to have found both the cause and a solution. Apparently, severe stress coupled with averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night and a marked zinc deficiency have conspired to cause very bad skin. I’m taking zinc supplements and a natural antibiotic from the health shop, as well as hypericum (St John’s Wort) for the stress. I’m treating topically with Cetaphil and Melaskin, and the results are dramatic. We’re not there, but I think the end is in sight. Fingers crossed!

– By Vanessa Davies – daily discovering Joy on a Shoestring.

Have you tried SCD or paleo? Has an other eating protocol worked for you?

Getting enough sleep.

One thing I really battle with is getting enough sleep. Between home school, freelance work, house work and dawdling, I rarely get to bed before midnight. A big part of the problem is that, because I always go to bed so late, I always think I have time to get to urgent stuff “later”. I’ll just stay up until the work is done, or wake up early to meet deadlines.

This sometimes backfires, and I end up falling asleep before the work is done, or I oversleep and don’t get up in time. My clients are accommodating, my creditors less so: if I don’t work, I can’t bill. If I don’t bill, I don’t get paid, and then I can’t pay my bills.

As a result, I tend to be a stress-bound zombie, tired and overwhelmed by what I haven’t achieved yet.

Even so, I like the fact that I meet deadlines and will move heaven and earth to do so. Then my loving sister sent me the link to this site. (I guess she’s worried about my sleeping habits).

Apparently, lack of sleep leads to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, stress, depression, risk of stroke and more. It’s even linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Working on a computer, doing house work or watching TV late at night are all stimulants that keep you up later and later, deplete melatonin levels and make a good night’s sleep harder and harder to achieve.

The solution, according to this article, is to:

  • Keep the bedroom for bedroom stuff, not stress stuff.
  • Have regular sleeping patterns every day of every week, to train your body.
  • Avoid all stimulants after dark. Does this include computers and TV, I wonder? Apparently it does include coffee and house work. How does anyone get a day’s work done?
  • Eat only light meals before  bed, and avoid carbs.
  • Make sure your room is as dark as possible. Even blinking lights on electronic devices pose a problem.

So I guess I’d better figure out a way to get enough sleep, somehow. Any ideas?

On home school, self-employment and domestic goddessery

When I started talking out loud about the possibility of us home schooling the girls, the overwhelming response from most quarters was a screaming “Don’t do it!”. Some people pointed out the lack-of-social-interaction “problem” that everyone jumps to first. I listened and pondered and for a while I even agreed. But as you know, I don’t agree any longer.

The second most common reason given why I shouldn’t home school was structure. More specifically, the lack thereof. Now, in truth, I am a very organised person. I like everything to have a clearly defined, labelled, easy-to-access space, and that space needs to be noted somewhere. Preferably somewhere indexable and searchable. I like clear shelves and lever arch files in matching colours with clear, attractive titles. I like order.

Having said that, I am pragmatic. I learned a long time ago to have clear priorities (although I don’t always stick to them!). So if I have a ton of work to do, I won’t always do the dishes. And there’s a good reason for this: genetics. I come from a long line of hardworking ladies (on both sides of the family), who are very house proud, and who can never start anything until the house is “in order”. What I learnt watching them as I grew up is that the house never stops needing attention. No  matter how many times you wash the dishes, there are always more to do. So now I first do my work (to pay the bills), teach my kids (because I must, and because I love it), and THEN do the house. Of course, by then it tends to be 2am, and I often choose my pillow rather than my sink on which to lavish my attention.

The obvious result tends to be a rather chaotic-looking house, and the irony is that it usually takes less than half an hour to throw it all back together.

How does this apply to actual home school? You may remember a recent blog post about this article: the 5 myths of home schooling. Myth #2 is a lack of structure and today I’m talking about how that myth applies to us personally, as well as discussing this week’s progress. To put it in a nutshell: this week there’s been no progress. The only reason our house isn’t infested with new and peculiar life forms bred in the sticky remnants of half-eaten meals in unwashed dishes is because we have a wondermaid 3 times a week. Thank God.

The last week of every month (this week, in other words), is deadline week for me. What I usually do is put my head down and work flat out for about seven days in a row, trying to get as much done as possible before the new month. And I don’t school. I just can’t fit it in. The girls love it – for the first few days. But by Thursday they’re not happy. Bored and frustrated and tearful, they fight and work on their stomach ulcers (especially DD1), and develop migraines.

Of course, being deadline week I’m already stressed, and it goes without saying that DH, lacking the HW (housework) gene, utterly fails to notice the expanding sewer around him. Plus it also usually manages to be that  time of the month, as well.

I have to keep reminding myself that everyhting about my life right now is the result of calculated choices. I chose to home school. I chose to work. I chose to freelance. And I chose to be married to a boy (as one does). Every four weeks or so, I wonder why.

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