Tag Archives: stress

Have You Flossed Your Brain Today?

have you flossed your brain todayMy mornings have a fairly set routine.

Shower, feed cat, wake Teenager, coffee, make-up, brush teeth, wake Teenager again, find lost school tie, etc.

All practical tasks, aimed at making us presentable enough to begin a new day. But what about getting ready emotionally?

Woven in amongst these mundane tasks, my mind wanders unchecked, flooding my weary brain with worries and problems.

Why have I put on a pound when I spent yesterday drinking miso soup and eating apples? Will my numb arm stay like that all day?  Why hasn’t the man of my dreams knocked on my door yet? These thoughts drag me down, meaning I always start the day at a loss, so how can I expect the day to improve, despite my presentable appearance?

Felicity Aston spent two months alone in Antarctica and created ways to deal with her solitude and the challenges that lay ahead. Rather than letting a negative emotion dictate her mood (and without anyone to help rein them in), she practised ‘mental hygiene’, or psychological housework, every morning.

She would ask herself if she had any worries or doubts lurking and would mentally deal with them before getting on with her day. I read the article with piqued interest.

Ok, so I’m not trekking through the Antarctic, but I am alone a lot of the time and like most of us with MS, each day is a series of physical challenges. We could do without the extra emotional baggage.

I tried this yesterday, with one eye on the skeptic-o-nometer. Normally I start worrying in the shower. I wake up with no problems, but by the time I’m washing my hair, I’m a whole bundle of stress. I decided to just concentrate on the shower, nothing else.

Downstairs over coffee, I mentally sorted through my brain. Three major worries. I wrote them down and next to each of them, jotted down exactly how I could tackle them. It was that easy. By transferring those seemingly insurmountable problems onto paper, I had released them from my mind. They no longer had the power to cycle endlessly through my brain, colouring every thought.

And you know what? I had the most productive, most stress-free day I’ve had in a long time. Those five minutes I spent gave me a whole day off from worrying. Which gave me more time to concentrate on important things like….well, just enjoying life.

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Blood, Sweat And No Ideas

exam stressIn a little over two weeks, I’ll be sitting what I hope will be my final ever exam. A three hour written paper.

Having the attention span of a gnat is proving problematic though.

I’ve spent hours (days, weeks) creating the most fabulous study notes. Colour-coded, bullet-pointed, succinct. They really are quite lovely. I settle myself down, ready to commit some facts to memory. And that’s the problem. My memory has taken a long sabbatical and I’ve got no idea when it’s coming back.

I read a few study points and my brain is full. Maybe I’ll just rest my eyes for five minutes. An hour later, I wake up with a start, study notes still clutched in my hands. All hope of absorbing essential nuggets of knowledge by osmosis fades. I look over past exam papers with a growing sense of horror. What hope do I have of writing dazzling answers when I can’t even understand the questions?

I had such high hopes when I started the university course six years ago. I whizzed through the first four years, feeling smug when I achieved pretty decent essay and exam scores. This was part of my Plan – a new career path which would grow alongside The Teenager, so come graduation, I would be ready for the next stage, an MA. Then, when The Teenager reached 16, I would step in to a wonderful new job.

Thanks to MS, those dreams now lie in tatters, and my so-called career path has become overgrown and inaccessible. But, hey, I’ve never been one to give up that easily. I’ll do something completely different. Just not quite sure what yet. A non-stressful job that utilises all my talents? I’m thinking cake tester (nah, not enough chocolate in that one, I’ll try the other one, ta very much) or a flat shoe expert, where I can try out the very latest styles and give them a thumbs up or down and keep the ones I like.

In the meantime, exam day is fast approaching and my brain is melting under the pressure. I daydream about what life will be like after 1pm on October 9th. I will be free! I will ceremoniously burn all my study notes and raise a toast to the last six years. Despite everything, I will have made it through.

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Just Another Day in MS Land

Here we go again. The relapse is-it-or-isn’t-it game is back. After a week full of energy, I am once more being held hostage by the sofa and daytime television. I am absolutely, ridiculously exhausted beyond reason.

I spoke to the MS nurse about this and she said that it was unlikely to be a full-blown relapse, more a temporary increase in symptoms, given that I had Alemtuzumab in the summer. This is supposed to cut down the relapse rate and therefore slow down the progression of MS. My spirits rose, until she added that it could still be a relapse though. I need to monitor things until I see the neurologist next week for my 6-month check up, but she thought the symptoms are more likely to be due to the stressful work situation.

Luckily, I had already completed my work quota for the week, the house was clean and The Teenager’s rugby kit had been washed, so even though it was incredibly boring , at least I wasn’t panicking. Too much. And when I say boring, I mean really, really boring. Too tired to read, I watched inane telly – lots of people with antiques, people rubbing their hands in glee at buying a cheap house at auction, shouty people shouting at other shouty people and ghoulish people chasing after other people’s inheritances.

When I wasn’t watching telly, I was sleeping, as I was too bored to do anything else. A whole packet of chocolate toffees somehow disappeared. I once again counted the cobwebs on my ceiling and admired my Christmas decorations from the sofa. The biggest problem I faced was cooking dinner when The Teenager got home. I had bought ingredients to make spaghetti carbonara . Not that difficult – bit of cream, Parmesan, bacon and a couple of eggs.

Feeling like I’d been run over by a juggernaut , it became a Herculean task. I briefly wondered if he would notice the difference if I made Super Noodles instead. At the last minute, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Cancel the cooking, put away the ingredients and collect some Teenager brownie points. We had a chippy. I will make the carbonara tomorrow.

 

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