Managing Stress

stress
familydoctor.org

Stress.

It’s an element of my life that I never was able to combat. I remember when I was in high school, I went to the doctor and she asked, “What are you stressed out about?” To this day I don’t remember why I was there, but I remember that I wasn’t exactly relaxed about…something.

So, throughout the years I thought that I was “managing” stress by writing to-do lists (which helped, somewhat), and doing my favorite activity, listening to music. However, 80% of the time I felt alert and anxiously waiting for the next stressor. This was especially true in college. Exams, papers, presentations…ugh! (Glad I’m done with that).

But, it wasn’t until I began therapy for OCD did I learn one way to truly relax, and it helped a lot. The technique? Diaphragmatic breathing. Once I learned how to do it, I used it all the time: at work, and whenever I needed to refocus and felt scattered.

But, that wasn’t enough. After I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) a month or so ago, one of the ways to manage the disease was to reduce stress. So, I found an article with suggestions.

In addition to my diapragmatic breathing, I now do yoga, and get out in nature (code for “more exercise”). Norah Jones, who I love, has become a prominent fixture on my iTunes when I need to relax–in addition to my other favorites–and write in my journal. And I talk about my problems instead of keeping it all in. Same goes for my emotions.

Also, getting a grip on my OCD is a stress reliever. Not having to worry about certain things takes a load off my mind.

I’m open to other stress busting techniques, though! So, how do you manage stress?

Advertisements

Byodo-In Temple

If you visit O’ahu, get out of Waiki and the North Shore and take a break at the Byodo-In Temple in lush Kahalu’u, on the Windward side of the island. I’ve lived on O’ahu for 29 years and it was my first time visiting this shrine. It’s gorgeous!

IMG_1422
Byodo-In Temple

The temple is located at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains, in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park (a graveyard). Don’t let that freak you out, though! It isn’t a graveyard with creepy headstones.

Once I crossed the wooden bridge at the entrance and saw the temple, I felt relaxed. Even with tourists mulling around, I was in a state of calm (this feeling was still with me in the gift shop!). There was a temple tour being held and people going in and out of the shrine that housed a giant Buddha.

The Byodo-In Temple is a non-practicing Buddhist temple, and I always liked the Buddhist teachings. To me, it’s not a religion, but a way of life, and the principles behind Buddhism is what I like. (Plus, I’m a big fan of the Dalai Lama).

IMG_1424
Backside of the temple

We walked the manicured grounds, seeing small waterfalls, ponds, and a lot of koi. It was a peaceful way to spend the afternoon.

Koi
Lots of koi, which you can feed

IMG_1425
Black swan

10-Year High School Reunion

I chose not to go to my 10-year high school reunion. Do I regret it? No. High school was an emotional time, for me and all of my classmates. We were dealing with growing up, relationships, friendships, homework, thinking about the future. It was stressful.

But I met my good friends during those years. After I quit band my junior year I needed somewhere else to eat lunch, so I found the art room. And that was where I met a bunch of lovable, nice, and funny people. I still keep in contact with some to this day.

Seeing Facebook posts from my former Japanese teacher, a friend, and our class group hasn’t fazed me and made me change my mind about not going. It looked like a fun time, though. From the looks of it, the theme was Vegas. Of course. The same people who were part of the student council and planned our dances and events also planned the reunion! It’s cute that they were so dedicated to our class. I was amazed then and I’m still amazed now.

Despite me not going, I was curious to know what some of my classmates were up to…looks like I have to go to my 20th high school reunion huh?

 

Diary Writing

diary
http://www.penguin.co.uk

I watched a cute and funny video on The Atlantic about David Sedaris and him keeping a diary in today’s age.

I have half a bookshelf filled with my diaries, which I began keeping in 97/98. Every notebook is filled with my experiences growing up. It was how I released emotion. I wasn’t one to talk about my feelings (still learning to do that), but I didn’t want someone to talk back to me and give advice. I yearned for someone who would just shut up and listen. I found that “person” in notebooks. I wasn’t judged, and I felt free to write about anything I wanted.

But as I continued writing in my adult life, the entries weren’t imaginative anymore. They became sounding boards for the frustrations I was encountering. And the positive. The log time between entries grew too–I wasn’t writing as often. As the saying goes, “Life got in the way.”

However, watching this video made me proud to be a diary keeper and not an oversharer online: you know the person on Facebook who shares everything from health issues to photos of their children to relationship woes. Isn’t it tiring to see that? Where’s the discrection? If you share your life with the world, what do you have to hold onto? Your Facebook feed becomes your diary, when a diary is supposed to be private. As Sedaris said, “More people are documenting their lives now. The difference is the degree to which they’re sharing. And there’s a lot to be said for not putting things out there.”

Like handwritten letters, keeping a diary is old school. But putting pen to paper is intimate. Note taking doesn’t count here. Anyone can do that (and required for class!). However, writing a letter or your thoughts out takes effort. There’s no delete key, and the handwriting isn’t going to be legible to everyone who reads it. If you make a mistake, scratch it out or white it out. Or throw it out and start over.

While the computer’s great (Microsoft Office!), keeping a diary is still valued today. I won’t stop doing it.