Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Avoiding Stress

Stress.  Literally anything can be stressful, especially to those of us who struggle with mental health.  We can find things stressful that "normal" people may find relaxing.  And if something actually is stressful for most people, sometimes we feel it much more intensely which can make our mental suffering worse.

This weekend, my oldest son is a ring bearer in an out-of-state wedding, and we are leaving tomorrow morning.  We get to spend a couple of nights in a hotel (with a pool!), eat out, and be together as a family.  A mini-vacation, which I'm really looking forward to.

What is there to be stressed about?

A stressful shopping trip with preschoolers.  Since I'm not part of the professional world much anymore, I don't have a lot of dressy clothes.  I went in search of a dress this morning to wear to the wedding.  Even with another adult for backup, the trip was still stressful.  That three-year-old of mine...let's just say it was an experience.  Not a good one.  He continued to run and be very - VERY - loud after being asked to stop, and, frankly, I had to parent him.  He did NOT like me ruining his fun.  There were many tears (his), lots of loud "put me down!"s, and several minutes spent with him sitting on the floor (contamination really isn't an obsession of mine either - at least for now; we all know how those can change).

Side note: We went to the Salvation Army (good stuff cheap!), and I was able to find three dresses.

Dresses bought at the Salvation Army to wear to a wedding

All that it takes to leave for a few days.  Packing can be quite the task.  Plus cleaning the house so there are no weird smells when we get home (ugh, those dirty dishes).  A several-hour-long road trip with three young kids.

A five-year-old in a wedding.  What if he throws a fit and doesn't make it down the aisle?  What if something happens to his suit before the wedding?  What if he refuses to do what he is supposed to do?

A very short amount of alone time this afternoon.  Instead of getting my alone time during naps today (a necessity for my introverted self), I cleaned out the minivan because it SO needed it.  If you have little kids, you understand why it seemed to take FOREVER.  Those unidentifiable little pieces of food, dog hair from the previous owner's pet (seriously?!), milk spots which somehow spilled out of cups with lids...clearly my OCD has not yet attacked keeping things clean.  :)

My to-do list for the rest of the day.  Laundry, pack for everyone but my husband, take a shower, figure out what shoes I'm going to wear, look up things to do in the location we'll be visiting, fill up the van with gas, get all of the dishes done and put away, find a gift for my nephew's birthday party which is the morning after we return home, get my 3-year-old's thank you notes from his birthday together for the relatives we will see at the wedding, catch up on our finances so I know how much we can spend while we're gone, figure out what to do with the dog...yeah, I should have planned ahead better.

Didn't you think ahead at all?

Yes, of course.  On some things.

I booked a hotel room weeks ago for two nights.  Originally we were going to only stay one night in a hotel due to finances, but things were going to be super rushed, and what five-year-old would do well in a wedding after being stuck in a car for five-and-a-half hours earlier that day?  We decided to stay two nights.

My mom is riding with us.  Three kids to three adults.

My son's ring bearer outfit is totally ready.  This may sound like a no-brainer...of course you would have the ring bearer's outfit figured out ahead of time, right?  Well, as an OCD struggler, sometimes I have the tendency to not think through things well because of all the other activity in my brain...but not this time!

Ring bearer outfit for wedding this weekend

I'm doing my best not to let the stress get to me.  Because I would really love to ENJOY this weekend with my family and not be stressed or trapped in the clutch of OCD.

Related resources on stress and mental health:

Fact Sheet on Stress - National Institute of Mental Health

"How Stress Affects Your Mental Health" - Forbes

How Stress Affects Your Health - American Psychological Association

How do you avoid stress?  Any tips to share?