Holidays are stressful. In a normal year we’d be traveling to California, and parceling out our visit among essentially three families. My cousins and their families (usually all in one spot for a day or two), and then my in-laws who are now two separate households not counting my husband’s siblings. So, yes, stressful. But this year, the lovely 2020, we are NOT traveling to California…but things are even more stressful than if we were.
It feels like there is stress layered upon stress. The stress of Covid, the stress of stupid and seemingly unending government repression in response to Covid, the stress of friends and family freaking out over everything, the stress of not writing or moving forward on the current work in progress, the stress of going to the grocery store in a mask, the stress of not being able to do the things we would normally do this time of year…or at any point this year. It adds up.
I finally realized the other day that it’s really adding up for me. I thought I was handling things pretty well. But…
I am prone to eczema. Have been since I was about seven or eight years old. It got really bad in junior high (or middle school for some of you). There’s nothing quite like being with a bunch of 12-14-year old girls when you have eczema on the backs of your knees and at your elbows. Gym is just sooooo much fun. But then it seemed to calm down for a while. I had all sorts of creams I was putting on it to calm the symptoms and sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t seem to. By the time I was in college I was using one of the strongest steroid creams out there. And I kept using that for several years.
I have always said that the eczema was a stress indicator for me. That even if I thought I was doing okay, an outbreak that lasted was a good sign that I was actually under considerable stress. I recently discovered that food will also trigger an attack. I went all summer with (for me) clear skin, and especially clear hands. Then, starting in about late August, early September I started getting increased outbreaks on my arms. It’s been really bad since then and I am grateful we moved into long-sleeve wearing weather.
What just dawned on me (and yes, I can be slow at times) was the high levels of stress I am (as are we all) dealing with right now. They’re layered on top of one another. And, even just one or two of these issues is stressful enough. But 2020 seems to revel in piling on.
I left my job in June, expecting that we would be moving elsewhere by September (stress…but very happy to have left teaching and faculty life). We didn’t, and haven’t yet, moved (stress). Hubby is still looking for work (stress). We still can’t eat out (stress), we’re living on one salary (prepared for, but still stress). There’s been rampant voting fraud that nobody seems to be willing to address (stress), and the country appears to be coming apart at the seams (stress). No WONDER I’m a mess. Oh, and all those steroid creams I was putting on my hands and arms for all those years? Yeah, my skin is now as thin as tissue paper. One itch scratched and I have long, bloody tracks down my arms. Long sleeves are a blessing.
I really need to figure this out and try to lower my stress levels. Hubby and I had a conversation this afternoon about it. I know that I can’t control what’s going on in the country. nor can I control his job search. I can only control my reaction to those things. But, still. There’s stress there.
This last week I’ve gone back to meditating in the morning and that seems to have helped a bit. I’m making sure I eat well and get enough water, eat enough protein, get enough fat in there. All that.
I also am going to make sure I do at least some work on my editing and writing. Not doing it leads to a vicious circle of not writing–>guilt–>stress that I need to write–>more guilt–>avoidance–>guilt–>stress–>not writing…and on and on and on. This is not a healthy way to go.
Okay. So, the end of year to New Year resolution…write, edit, and do my best to lower stress levels, thus lowering eczema, which in turn helps to lower stress levels.
One of these days I’ll figure out this Gordian knot.