Struggling with Stress

It's been a tough month. My husband's brother, died 2 weeks ago at age 47.  He was in the hospital---3 states away---for almost 3 weeks. We made 2 long weekend trips to see him.  Then, last week, we went to  his memorial service, driving 9 hours, then 4 hours, then 5 hours, then another 9.  All to reconnect with family. Important miles to travel. But hard ones.

Things like this happen.  They just do. It's part of life. And it's tough on the family. Emotional stress, physical stress, exhaustion. All sorts of mental and physical responses all rolled up inside of each one of us as we deal with loss.  

I know a few things that went well for me as I struggled to continue to take care of myself during this past month:
  • We made sure to to take fruit, whole grain crackers, little packages of nuts, a case of water, and V-8 juice cans with us as we traveled.  This did make a big difference in making sure both my husband and I had nutritious things to nibble on when we didn't feel like eating a big meal, or needed a little snack.  I grabbed water quite frequently between the cups of coffee I was consuming along the road, which helped me keep well hydrated.  
  • I forgot to take my own pillow with me on the first trip. Between that and having a cup of tea too late in the evening,  I didn't sleep very well at all.  I made sure to take that pillow on the next two trips!  I also took my lumbar pillow for my back and little neck roll pillow to help me with driving comfort.  
  • I provided the memorial service luncheon (ordering most of it from a local grocery store!) I made sure there were big trays of fresh fruit and veggies available and big pitchers of water for everyone.  That was appreciated by a number of people, I noticed.
  • I grabbed non-fat, sugar free lattes when I needed a little pick me up, which provided an extra milk for me...only once forgetting to ask for decaf!
What I know I need to manage better in the future:
  • Sleep.  I need to learn to stop processing things, relax and sleep. That's really hard for me. It has taken me a full week to recover from each trip out west.
  • Breathe. Frequently. Relax. Roll shoulders and stretch...I didn't even think about this!
  • Chocolate.  Normally, my husband would have just bought one little candy bar and we would share it when we decided to have something chocolate.  This time, he came back with 2 when the chocolate decision came. We both just simply ate our own. I was tired enough that I didn't exercise control over a decision to stop when I was full.  Next time, one candy bar, split. Eat slowly. Enjoy. Done.
  • Exercise.  Walk everyday, even if only for 15 minutes.
  • Alone time.  Go into my own space for 10 minutes or so, just because I need to.
If you ever have occasion to send something to a grieving family, think healthy. My mom's been known to send a fruit basket which I think is great.  Or you could make up a veggie platter, or a low-fat cheese and whole grain cracker tray. Or just care enough to give someone a hug or talk awhile. Many times, too many cookies and cakes eaten under stressful times just add more stress when you gain weight and your jeans get too tight.

With more rest, sleep, water, and healthy foods, I'm back on my path to greater wellness...