I’m stressed out again. I’m reminded of something one of my brain injury therapists has told me. “When you feel anxious, the brain releases chemicals that cause you to have difficulty thinking as clearly. This can make things especially difficult for someone with a brain inury.” Yep. The way I have handled this for the past five years is to not get involved with anything that causes me stress or if I know I’m going to be stressed out, I drop everything else. The problem is, I’ve been bored so I want to be more involved in things.
I hear people say all the time, “My plate is too full so I can’t do it.” I look around me and I see people whose plates are overflowing but they still seem to handle it all. I then feel guilty. However, my plate is smaller now. I can’t handle as much before I have difficultly thinking. This is my new reality and I have a choice. I can worry about everything and be stressed like I am now or I can just stop. My therapist suggested I set aside some time to prepare what I need and then put it away. My tendency is to spend way too much time on something and waste needless time agonizing about it. She also reminded me that this needless agonozing is what causes the suffering. She suggested a technique to use when I find myself getting agitated.
When I beome aware of negative thoughts just stop it. Say out loud “stop!” Then refute the negative thought. For instance, I’m worried about leading a Sunday School class so I called the facilitator and shared my worries. He helped me to see that I do have something to offer and encouraged me not to compare myself to the other teachers. This helps me refute the negative thought. Now I have to continue refuting this thought! I may not be like the other teachers but I do have something to offer. I also asked him to pray for me this week so God can help me stop my agonizing.
My other challenge is I have to have everything working according to plan or I’m thrown. I prepare a newsletter for one of the churches I attend and I wanted to begin working on it today. However, some of the information I needed wasn’t available to me when I needed it. I’m also meeting with a friend tomorrow who is going to help me with this blog. He can’t meet at my preferred times and he is giving his time to me (Thanks Rich!) so I’m trying to meet when he can. Now I can put this off for a few weeks but I don’t want to do that. So there’s more on my plate now then the projects I am working on.
This is when my comtemplative prayer helps. Thomas Keating wrote, “No amount of spiritual ‘yakking’ can take the place of the intention to be with God at the deepest level of our being.” The only way I’m going to get through this stress, since I’ve chosen not to take anything off my plate, is to spend time with God. A few curve balls have been thrown my way so everything may not get done right on time. This doesn’t mean I’m a “bad person.” It just means I can’t control everything and it’s selfish to think I can. Romans 8:9 says, “The Spirit of God has made a home in you.” God’s Spirit is in me. Perhaps those of us with brain injuries, whose plates are smaller now, can help show others how to live.
Do you get stressed out now? How do you handle it. I’ll let you know if I can manage what’s on my plate without having sleepness nights! Feel free to comment here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you have a google or another account you can select it when the comment section asks you to select an account. Feel free to select annonomous if you’d rather.