Change can be good, but YES, change can also be stressful.
Even wonderful life events can bring on a high level of stress….Weddings, a baby’s birth,
buying that longed for new home, getting that new job, and so on.
There’s a scale called the SRRS, created by 2 psychiatrists, named Holmes and Rahe, that we clinicians use to evaluate what a patient is experiencing. These 43 stressful life events all have a point value. Some are valued at more than others, but show the level of risk to illness and whether that risk is mild, moderate, or severe.
When multiple changes are being experienced, the points add up, and the patient is more susceptible to illness. There is also a separate scale for children, with a similar listing.
This assessment is done, at least by me, at every intake of a new patient, and, sporadically throughout their treatment.
When a patient comes to me, and says that they have been under a great deal of stress, we go over the assessment together, discuss it, and then work on a treatment plan. Often, they are tired, can’t shake a cold, have skin irritations, other complaints, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or any of a gamut of other bodily complaints.
I don’t have a couch in my office, as I never want anyone to get “that” comfortable with counseling, so that they remain for the long run; My goal, as their clinician, is to get them “unstuck”, to have some understanding, give them some learned tasks to work through things, and send them on their way, having now learned to do things differently. This doesn’t happen with a magic spell, or one miraculous session, and often depends on the time the patient spends doing their “homework”.
Those of us that are caretakers, are least likely to do for themselves, and it is more than often that a child has been brought into my office for counseling for whatever is initially a parent’s concern for their child, and I’m substantially more concerned about that parent.
And, just forget about us clinicians…we’ll take care of anybody before we tend to ourselves! After all, we ARE the ultimate caretakers.
Most of you out there are aware of a few things about me…I work multiple jobs, and weird hours. my husband had been out of work for quite some time, my daughter has been ill for over 6 months, without a diagnosis or a prognosis, we are downsizing, and our home is on the market, as well as a few other additional joyous, (I’m being sarcastic) things….HELLO STRESS!
I’ve been balancing most of these things pretty well, or so I thought, up until about two weeks ago, when I added another major stressor to my ongoing list of fun, and, basically, fell off of the proverbial wagon. This new addition tipped the scale, and, not in a good way. I began losing sleep, felt run down, thought a cold was coming on, which, thank goodness, ended up being seasonal allergies, but, I began having some stomach issues and feeling anxious, which exacerbated the stomach issues, and round, and round we go. I knew it was time to start doing things very differently, having realized, that if I was MY patient, intervention was certainly an Immediate necessity.
I knew I needed to take matters into my own hands, so, I took out my SRRS, assessed my level of stress, and, BINGO, I had reached that level of a severe risk of illness.
I then, gave myself some homework of my very own, and began listing only positives that had occurred that day, no matter how small. The rule was to end the night doing this, just before bed, and listing no less than three, and not qualifying them. I’ve been doing this now for several days, (it takes 7 days to form a habit, but 28 days to break a habit) but I’m not letting myself off of the hook. And, you know what, I’ve learned something…
If you can find the positive, even when there is soooo much negative going on, you can literally save your soul. It’s not easy, OH BOY, is it not, but it beats ending the day, going to bed stressed, not sleeping, and being run down the next day, haven’t to try to do it all over again.
There can be things that you truly overlooked along the way, and don’ t they deserve your attention? Do we accentuate the positive, in the attempt to eliminate the negative?
I’ve held myself accountable, by listing them as my status on Facebook, and I’ve gotten some decent feedback. I’ve also set it into motion for some others, who have decided to do the same for themselves, without my prompting. Like a friend of mine stated, “heal thyself, and thus begins healing the world”, which really is my job anyway, isn’t it?!
So, it’s late, and I have a task to make good on, so off I go, to list my positives…