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Stress: Coping With mom

Jackie’s mom calls her at least twice a day now. Sometimes it’s just to stay in touch, other times she’s in tears because she just feels so awful and confused, but more times than not she calls to try to guilt Jackie into coming over. The caregivers she’s hired are always awful people that can’t be trusted; the house and the daily routine are more than she can handle; that terrible president we have is going to lead us straight to Armageddon; and it always ends the same: “when can you come over and help me again dear?”

Jackie’s about to break. She has a full time job at part time pay, two kids entering college, a husband who she sees in passing when they’re getting up or finally falling into bed, dogs, cats, turtles, a mortgage, and a huge list of neglected chores around thestress-coping-with-senior-mom house constantly spinning around in her head. And THEN her mom calls? “How much more of this can I take?” she thinks to herself.

The truth is we cannot control anything or anyone outside of our own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. What we can control is our reaction to them. Healthy self-care is extremely important if we’re to have any hope of dealing effectively with caring for an aging parent on top of everything else we are responsible for today. It’s not coping with mom that’s the problem, it’s learning a higher degree of self-awareness and self-control that is the ultimate answer.

Some great techniques for developing these coping strategies can be found in The Worry Free Life: a book co-authored by our founder and director Patrick Philbrick.

If you think stress may be getting the best of you, download our free self-test to see if you may be vulnerable.

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “how heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.”

“If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. “In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.”

“So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. Relax; pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short. Enjoy it!

And then he shared some ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

  • Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.
  • Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
  • Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
  • Drive carefully. It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
  • If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
  • If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  • It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
  • Never buy a car you can’t push.
  • Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.
  • Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.
  • The second mouse gets the cheese. Or; look before you leap.
  • When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
  • Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
  • You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
  • Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
  • We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

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