I have historically been terrible at dealing with stress. When the going would get tough, I would predictably fall into certain patterns. I would kind of withdraw from the world, not be excited about anything, bottle it up, sleep poorly, and the worst part, have repeating bouts of IBS. These last few weeks, my stress level has been pretty high. Diana's condition, and the lack of medical progress, was difficult for me to see. Simon asking if Mom was going to die, while still experiencing anxiety about many things, including second grade (yeah, months in advance), has kept me on a short fuse. Work has been busy, but I don't know that it has been any more stressful than usual. I typically enjoy the responsibility I have, though in the context of the rest of life, maybe it too has been wearing on me.
Things were different this time. I knew I was stressed, but I seemed to process it differently. The starting point is probably that I've been in a solid routine of daily movement. While I definitely want to drop some weight, I'm mostly trying to offset all of the sitting time that comes with my line of work, and make it a permanent part of life. I haven't shut down and become anti-social, and I vent about the stress to friends. Somehow I've managed to sleep pretty well, too. The IBS hasn't hit, probably because of the activity and the general avoidance of fried food.
The timing for our next vacation helps a lot, too. It's a little harder now to take vacation time, because I can't just yank my kid out of school because we feel like it. He actually has to be there now. I imagine we can still pull him out for a Friday three-night cruise now and then, but not often. It's so important to unplug on a regular basis, and I still forget to do it. There's no medal for ignoring your limits and burning out.
It seems as though effective stress management is something that grownups should just be able to do, but I know people way older than me who haven't figured it out. Life is challenging enough without having your brain in this weird chemical state that feels terrible. Figuring out how to process and purge stress seems like a good use of time. I'm a lot better at it than I was even five years ago. Perhaps being a parent has granted me more patience.