My kids were out of school for three weeks over the holidays. During that time, we traveled, there was illness, my childcare was extremely limited, though my workload was about average, and my usual self-care rituals were cut back dramatically. Yet, when I went in to my neuromuscular therapist (he does cranio-sacral, massage, and chiropractic work on me for both my physical well-being- back and neck issues, and mental health- cranio-sacral is effective in improving brain function), he mentioned that my shoulder muscles, which are a direct barometer of my stress level, were the least tense he'd ever experienced. I couldn't believe it. I mean, I'd had my kids without any childcare at all for 10 straight days at that point!
Last Sunday, my husband went on a business trip on Sunday morning. By late Monday he called me complaining of illness, by very late Tuesday he arrived home just in time to fall in bed (alone), and by 9:30am on Wednesday a flu test had confirmed he had influenza.
Now, if there's anything that triggers us it's germs. I wouldn't say were are phobic, per se (well, maybe M is...), but we definitely seem to be more concerned than the average bear about illness. We make wellness and immunity a priority, giving our kids high quality vitamins and supplements, and do our best to limit their exposure to really germ-laden places (i.e. no Chuck-E-Cheese, Gymboree, or Monkey Joes for us in the Winter). And, since we've had our second child, we've decided not to travel by air as a family in the flu season either. We wash our hands a ton and overall just try to be careful about our exposure. It doesn't limit our activities too much, as we continue to enjoy the things we really like to do, like going indoor rock-climbing, going out to eat occasionally, and spending time with friends.
In any case, you could say that the past five or six weeks has been stressful. I've been parenting mostly on my own since Jan. 2nd. Work has really geared up for me, with a new parenting group starting, a transition in staffing in the area I supervise, and an official launch of the website I've been working with a team on for several years about to take place. Also? I've had some difficult stuff go on in my personal life with a couple of different friends that has left me a little sensitive and hurt. But, the weird thing is that I feel great. The boys and I are into a routine. Thankfully, while our babysitters were both really ill before Christmas, we've been able to have adequate childcare so far in 2013. We had a terrific weather weekend in Atlanta and I spent tons of time outdoors, playing in the sandbox, on the trampoline, and teaching L1 how to play kickball.
I guess what I am saying is that it seems that when I feel and do my best is directly correlated to having a lot going on and to being in what would typically be labeled as fairly intense situations. Trust me, I'm not wishing for bad things or stress to descend upon me permanently, I mean everyone has their breaking point. However, I am wondering if I tend to be a person who thrives with that extra bit of adrenaline. It does make a bit of logical sense to me, seeing as to how my entire childhood could have been labeled as "under duress". I don't remember a single day lacking an intense feeling of stress, much of which was not irrational or everyday stress, but rather stress related to my safety and to the well-being of others. Perhaps my body's defense mechanism was to modify itself to function optimally under those conditions? It does seem that in adulthood I have chosen much healthier situations and that I am able to relax and certainly have not felt as if I am under constant duress for a very long time. But, perhaps, deep in the vault within my brain, that super-girl lies in wait to conquer all and flood me with productivity and positivity when things get tough. In any case, I am grateful.
How about you? Do you find that you do well under intense, occasional stress or does everyday life tend to be when you are at your best?