Friday, March 13, 2015

I need to de-stress but am stressing out over how to do it

Having a family history of heart disease, I have gone to some lengths to try and lessen my risk of dying prematurely from coronary artery disease or similar ailments.

I eat fairly healthy.

I exercise.

I (try to) maintain a healthy weight.

I'm generally a happy person with a reliable network of social support around me.

Those are all boxes I can tick off  on the "prevent a heart attack" checklist.

But that list invariably includes a fifth item on which I fall short: Stress management.

Stress is a killer. Just ask any primary care doctor or cardiologist and they can probably give you examples of patients whose early demise can be traced back to allowing too much stress in their lives.

It's hard for me to say how stressed I am versus the average person. Like I said, I tend to be fairly positive, but I constantly worry about various aspects of my job and family life. Am I on top of everything? Am I doing what I'm supposed to do? How am I going to get everything done that's on my to-do list?

It's fair to say that I do register somewhere on the stress scale, at least enough to the point that managing that stress and its ill effects is something I should, um, worry about.

But how to do it? The options vary.

A lot of books and health blogs tell you to meditate, particularly in the morning. And I should probably try it. But I already get up way too early for my own tastes (4:45 a.m. most days), and even setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier is a deal-breaker for me. So finding time is a problem.

How about massage? Ugh. I know that many people  my wife chief among them  are big fans of massage. She even bought me a gift certificate for Christmas for a free massage from a friend of ours who is very skilled at it.

But...I don't know. I'm just not into having people not named Terry Tennant engage in anything resembling extended physical contact with me. Rather than relax me, I'm afraid massage will just cause me to tense up even worse. So I'm not sure there.

How about reiki? Not familiar with it? Go here for a quick explanation. My sister Debbie is a trained reiki practitioner, so I've got an "in" on this one. Reiki is a really cool Japanese technique that aids in stress reduction and relaxation, both of which I could obviously use. The only downside here, again, is time. Gotta find time to get together with Deb so she could do her reiki magic on me, a service for which I would be willing to pay her. But when? I don't know.

They also tell you that simple deep breathing helps, and I've tried it before. It does work, but it's difficult for me to get into the habit. And it's such an easy fix that part of me doesn't trust it does anything tangible, which just goes to show you I apparently have issues that go far beyond simple meditation or deep relaxation.

Ultimately, what I'll probably die from is a heart attack brought on by years of indecision over how to de-stress. That, in one sentence, describes the paradox of being me. The whole thing just stresses me out...

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