I tell clients with depression to make a list of activities they can do to distract themselves. One of my clients likes to go to the supermarket and walk the aisles. She does not shop, she just walks the aisles. Sometimes she looks at products and sometimes she focuses on colors. She does this a couple of times a week.
She said that she had a thought one day. She imagined walking around the supermarket and seeing someone else doing so without a cart who was going up and down aisles. She decided she would go up to the person and say, “Are you seeing Natalie in therapy?’
Today a client told me she is overwhelmed. She works full time owning her own business. She lives alone and does the housekeeping, cooking and shopping. She is taking a significant exam to go back to school and needs to study. She is on a special eating plan and has to prepare enough food on Sundays to last through the week.
We explored ways she could have a couple of hours away from these demands. Hiking, swimming in a lake, taking a drive, having coffee with a friend. It was not easy for her to focus on this and I am eager to hear what she did next week.
As she was departing, I told her that I had awakened during the night and discovered I was really looking forward to cleaning my house today. It is a contrast to work and membership responsibilities. I was going to be alone. For me, having the time to do a regular task at my own pace and be able to visualize some of the results of my work, was something to look forward to.
She left concerned about me. I did well.
I recently took a weekend trip down to LA to visit Julie, my daughter. Lately my knees have been uncomfortable and I will be beginning physical therapy in a couple of weeks. I have mentioned this to her and am aware that I rarely talk about how I am doing physically. I told her that walking up and down stairs tends to put the most stress on my knees.
There is an elevator in her apartment and over the weekend it failed to work on a few occasions. She took immediate action calling the building manager and I discovered that she was very assertive, mentioning that I was visiting and she did not want me walking the stairs. There were a few interventions that she took as the elevator was not reliable.
We went to a play downtown which meant parking underground. As we walked to a restaurant and the theater, there were steps. In each situation, she kept directing me to the elevator even though it was a longer walk, but did not require stairs.
Her care was very touching to me, though not surprising. As a person who prefers not being taken care of, even when ill, she saved me from discomfort.
I hope I am attentive to others in the same way.
I went to my grandson Isaac’s soccer game yesterday. It was in San Francisco so I tried to gauge the weather since it is often different than Alameda where I live. It was supposed to top out at 68 degrees. I wore jeans and a light long sleeve top. I took a sweater just in case. We went to breakfast first and the sweater was necessary.
At the game, I sat on the faux grass for 1 ½ hours in the sun. I have always been a sun person and I do not wear a hat or sunscreen, to the chagrin of a couple of people.
When we went to leave, I got up and felt a couple of steps away from faint. I walked slowly and then knew I needed to sit for a second. Everyone asked why and then offered water, something I had not consumed during the game. I walked again and was very light headed. I felt relief once I was in the car.
It had gotten hotter than anticipated and it has been a long time since I have sat in the sun. In fact, it has been years. I am not a water drinker except at meals.
My body has changed since my lifestyle has changed.
I am still learning.
Stress is everyone’s experience. Life has become more complicated and multifaceted. People have more responsibilities. We take in more data. We meet more people. We move around. We respond to people, messages, phone calls, text, emails. We also initiate these. We drive in traffic. We have appointments and deadlines.
Stress can play out emotionally or physically. We can be anxious. We can be overwhelmed. We can be in pain. We can have stomach distress.
One client of mine has been to a variety of medical doctors and has been evaluated through lab work and three MRIs. Shoulder and neck pain. No source discovered. No cause discovered. We focused on feelings he has not fully expressed or dealt with. He learned relaxation exercises. He learned to stop trying to focus on the cause and to deal with the symptom. We met for a couple of months.
Suddenly he came in one day and told me how he had finally internalized the prospect that it was caused by stress. After reaching this point, the pain disappeared.
Relax and yell (perhaps).
The older we get, the more conscious we are of what we can do to keep our bodies healthy. The focus is not so much on how we look, but on how we feel and how we want to continue to feel.
Exercise has been a routine in my life for a long time. Since moving to California, I have gone to a gym three mornings a week for 40 minutes. I use a variety of machines and, in between, follow an exercise tape. I have seen this as a way of using my body, keeping it flexible, enhancing balance, and strengthening arms and legs.
The other morning I went to a weekly meeting where I always prepare the coffee for a large group of people. I am there before anyone. I went to the cabinet where the materials are stored, including the coffee pot. In front of it, all of the items left from an event we had done two days earlier in the same building, were stacked. I could not get into the cabinet. I moved the items to another location about 10 feet away. This included eight cases of sodas and water and boxes containing six bottles of wine each. Each was heavy and the stack was high.
I imaged feeling uncomfortable the next morning. Instead, I felt no discomfort.
This is another piece of evidence that we are able to take care of our bodies and prevent pain.
Take care, readers.