It’s Relatively Easy These Days

Goodness, dear Reader, it is already Wednesday. I feel like I just posted, and I suppose I did. I was MIA on Sunday and had to catch up on Monday. I remember when I was blogging so far in advance that I had weeks worth of posts prepared and scheduled. Now? Ha. That’s silly talk.

We are covering The Illusion of Control this month, or rather, how to release or let go of such a thing. I have to be transparent and tell you that I’ve always seemed to do a pretty good job of looking like I had my shit together. I was the ‘go to person’ for many. I held several leadership positions at once. I owned companies and managed teams. I was an ‘influencer.’ Annnnndddd thheeennnn…my divorce happened. It wasn’t even really my divorce. That was the easy part. All that led up to it and all that followed seemed to be the kicker, ya know?

Last year I started working with a physician who specializes in functional medicine. I was feeling just…I don’t know…a bit off. So she ran a crap ton of tests, and one of the things we learned is that my cortisol levels were sky high – even though I had been out of the relationship for nearly two years. For those of you who are unaware of just how important – and disastrous – cortisol can be, here’s a quick read. In short doses, it can save you from that idiot who ran the red at Walnut Lawn and Campbell. But, I had been living, basically, with an invisible Cortisol-filled IV bag attached to my body for nearly six years. Cortisol…just there…dripping into my bloodstream every hour of every day. Drip. Drip. Drip.

I’m happy to report to you, dear Reader, that my cortisol levels were back to normal as of this week, and that’s a relief. As a massage therapist, I always felt it was my duty to tell people, “Stress will kill you,” and it will. Okay. Stress, literally, will not kill you but reducing it matters a lot. Over 90% of illnesses are associated with too much stress. (Read this if you don’t believe me!) So I’m glad this thing is under control.

The tips I plan to share with you seem relatively easy. And, as suggestions, they are easy. In practice, not so much. You must be diligent. You must be committed. There will be carnage.

Okay. A bit dramatic. But you get it.

Anywho. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s talk about reducing stress, shall we? These are the steps I took to hit the road to recovery, and most of it centered on giving up the illusion that I had everything under control.

1) Live in the moment. You can’t predict the future. You can’t change the past. A piece of advice I received was always to remember this phrase: “I made the best decision I could, based on the information I had at the time.” Anytime I’d spiral into the land of self-judgment, I’d take a breath and say that. Anytime anyone else tried to blame me for a past decision, I’d take a breath and say that. Try it. I think you’ll like it.

2) Breathwork. I shit you not. This was the number one thing that helped me control my anxiety and stress. I started going to Yin Yoga, and the lessons in breathwork were the most vital. Here’s a great video on breathwork. Oh, wait! Here’s another one worth 18 minutes of your life.

3) Avoid toxic relationships. I’ve covered this a million times, so I will not even go there today. We have an entire month dedicated to this very subject coming up. Another great piece of advice I received was “Stop asking why a clown acts like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.” Dang, right? But let it be known…you will lose friends. But…were they really friends, to begin with? Hmm? Having just heard my nine-year-old son say “Go fuck yourself” last night, I decided maybe I use that phrase a bit too much…but really. Tell them to do just that.

4) Prioritize sleep. My insomnia is still around. It struck just two nights ago when my eyes popped open at 2 a.m., and I couldn’t get back to sleep. But it doesn’t happen as often. Nighttime routines, low lights, a little bit of self-pleasure (Wha? It had to be said. Come on. Someone had to say it.) All of these things help you to get to sleep. And Xanax, at times, helps too. {Ahem} My point is it will take a while for your body to adjust to a nighttime routine, but do engage in one anyway.

5) Exercise. For those of you who hate the gym, you are in luck. I, myself, am not too fond of the gym. But the good news? If you exercise longer than 20 minutes and get your heart rate over 85%, you are actually doing more damage to your body and increasing cortisol levels if you are already in the fight/flight response. So yay! Short, brisk walks for 20 minutes five times a week is all you need. You’re welcome.

That’s it for today, dear Reader. I hope these tips help and I wish you the best. I forgot to mention that I get regular massages, so if that’s in the budget, I recommend that. At least a sixty-minute massage once a month and you’ll want to ask for “A relaxation (Swedish) massage with medium to firm pressure” when you book. Just enough to know you got a massage, but not so much that you really can’t relax. Also, if you aren’t prone to motion sickness, ask the therapist for some light ‘rocking’. The goal is to snore.

Here’s your song today. I love this song and always have. And the words ring true. While I’m not a fan of “Chin up, it could be worse” because that kinda invalidates what you are going through, this song kinda nails it in a way that the asshole friend with bad advice ever really can. Amiright?