by Rene Allen
Almost ninety days have passed since the plane crash in southern Utah that took the lives of ten people, including those of my brother Lansing, and nephew, Dallin. I still cry now and then, particularly every Sunday on the way to church and on the way home. Why is that?
This morning I filled out an online health survey for our medical insurance. There were a lot of questions about stress including losses. Well, there have been five deaths in my family and my husband’s since April, not to mention a whole lot of other things that are extraordinary and hopefully, self-limited. When I finished the survey, there was a canned note that I need to manage my stress better. There was no place for replies although I thought of a few and was really stressed that I couldn't respond.
There is evidence that stress is a killer. Heart attacks happen when those worried coronaries spasm shut during stress. People are distracted when they’re stressed and have accidents. Affect changes. Anxiety and depression pal around with stress.
Hans Selye, a scientist from the 60’s wrote a book called the Stress of Life. He postulates that we are given a finite amount of energy to plow through this life and that some stress is actually good for us. Think about resistance training and body building – there the goal is to stress the muscles enough that there is some damage, and in repairing the damage the muscles bulk up and hypertrophy and become stronger.
Then there is the kind that isn’t so good. He discovered that the kind of stress that goes along with worry – with taking away choice and your ability to take care of yourself depletes a lot of that life energy.
So back to managing stress—here’s what I tell myself:
Rene, you’ve got to move your body. Sweat. Breathe. Propel yourself. Moving reminds you of your own power. Getting from here to there yourself is good for you.
Second: Food, beyond what you need for a day’s requirements, isn’t going to fix anything. It isn’t a drug. Stick with your plan. You’ll feel better at the end of the day.
Third: Don’t minimize what’s happening in your life. You miss your brother. These are scary times. We are in new territory as a government. On the other hand, remind yourself that every single day in your lifetime, the sun has come up in the morning and gone down at night. Not everything is changing.
Fourth: Keep the big picture – the one where Heavenly Father knows what’s going on and has made promises to His children who are obedient.
Fifth: Reciting the Serenity Prayer now and then is a good idea;
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Sixth: Keep writing. You can’t go wrong there, ever.