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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Stress is a killer

About ten years ago I had a heart attack brought on by stress. These are the steps I used to help myself heal:

1. I made a list of the things causing me stress.

2. Every time I got upset or angry over a specific situation, I wrote it down and included it in my list.

3. I examined each item on my list and categorized it as:
a) something that can be resolved via an action by me;
b) something over which I had no control;
c) something that time will resolve.

4. The items that were the things that could be resolved by taking action were categorized by the least stressing to the most stressing.

5.  I worked on resolving one issue at a time. I started with the one that required the littlest effort and went from there. This list is never-ending. There will always be something that gets added on with resolutions that require time, money or emotional expense.

6. The stresses over which I have no control, I pushed aside thinking I would come back to them after I had dealt with all the more pressing stuff.

7.  Resolutions which simply involved letting some time pass, were also pushed aside. Actually, I wrote them on a calendar as a reminder. When the calendar reminded me of the item, I would check to see if the issue had been resolved. If not, it went back on the calendar.

One of the biggest things I learned in my heart health recovery, is to take time for laughter. Find humor every chance you can. Laugh. No, I mean, LAUGH your butt off! Laugh at the backed-up traffic because it allows you some time to listen to great tunes while you’re waiting. Laugh at the price of a new car because you don’t really have to spend that much money. Laugh at political speeches because of the ridiculousness of statements being made Laugh at everything and anything. Every time you laugh, you physically release stress.

My basic personality is to fix things. People call on me to help them with their problems all the time, but really all I can do is listen, suggest and encourage. What I really want to do is take the responsibility from them and do what they should do themselves.

For example, a friend has a bestie with serious health problems. The bestie had some medical tests done and has received the results. The friend calls to check on her and wants to know the test results in order to provide the support the bestie needs. But, the bestie is dodging her calls and ignoring her texts. The friend is very concerned and desperately wants to help the bestie. She asks me what she should do. My response… get in your car, drive to her house and don’t stop knocking until she answers the door. You’ll have your answer when you see her face. That’s when you will know what to do.

What I really want to do is go to the bestie house myself and ask her what’s up. Tell her to get over herself and let others help. However… her illness is not my circus and her test results are not my monkeys. I cannot interfere with this relationship. They must figure it out on their own.

Figuring it out is the hardest part. Most of the time there are many optional answers to a situation. It’s difficult to discover which is the right one.

If you’re dealing with excess stress in your life, take control and resolve everything that you can. Stress will kill you as much as a speeding bullet. Cover your heart with a Superman cape and ricochet those bullets to oblivion. You’ll be happy you did.

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