Stressing over stress

Zsolt just walked into my makeshift ‘office’ in his sister’s old bedroom here in Pecs, Hungary, and asked if I could take a break from my work. (Quick aside: this isn’t work. I love doing this – writing, blogging, social mediating, and all the while enjoying the breeze through this large open window before me and listening to the sounds of the neighbourhood – mostly dogs, a few cars). And since Zsolt never walks into my makeshift office asking me to take a break, I immediately listened to the man.

“I sent you an email,” he tells me.

Catherine opens her email.

There in my inbox is an article link.  It’s a piece from the Huffington post by David Katz, M.D. on the “super six” – his list of factors to help prevent recurrence (or occurrence) of cancer. With the inevitable reminder that “lifestyle practices are the ship and sails, but there is still the wind and waves”, which I thought was a rather well-put reminder. Do what you can, but there are no promises. However, we can at least do what we can.

Anyhow, here are the six factors suggested by David Katz to give attention when trying to fight cancer – feet (exercise), forks (diet), fingers (no smoking), sleep, stress, and love.

And then Zsolt says to me: “You’ve got all of those covered, except for your stress.”

Ah! Nailed.

Before diagnosed with cancer I was stressing over ‘where will we live’ and ‘where do I belong’ . . . then came the cancer (a stress-pie in itself) . . . and Zsolt’s application for residency in Canada . . . and now that we’re finally here in Hungary, enjoying our summer of time and leisure, and I’m stressing over our move to Canada and how things will go at the border and how we’ll settle into adulthood in another new country (new for Zsolt, and I’ve only ever been a student in Canada, so this will most certainly be different).

Now I realize this post is essentially a written rant on worrying about worrying. And Zsolt has just told me that he’s getting worried over my endless list of concerns (poor man, I don’t want him to be dragged down). Plus, I’d hate to leave you with the impression that all day, everyday my brow is furrowed and I’m ruminating over the next difficult hurdle (because really, and I know this, every hurdle is surmounted whether you want to climb that obstacle or not. During chemo I thought, “this is impossible” and yet – it’s done.) but it’s just a realization reminder: In the words of my husband, “Catherine, you need to relax.”

This entire summer was constructed with the idea of relaxation, but it seems location and convenience alone are not enough to master the art of calm. My mind still picks on the wriggling points of uncertainty – Will we have problems? Is the paperwork arranged? What will come next?

Same thing it’s been doing ever since I was a kid.

However, I also learned a new trick this past year. Talking about said stress – writing, blogging, journaling, releasing – I don’t know how that factors into the ‘super six’ but for me personally it’s a great help. I let out the pressure . . . which is a start.

Anyhow, with the conclusion of this post I will try and not worry any longer about worrying. Instead, I’ll google meditation classes in Ottawa I can slip into once we arrive in the country.  Like all other aspects of that super six (particularly diet and exercise) I’ll feel better – physically, mentally, emotionally – once this issue is challenged with some proactive behaviour. And in the meanwhile, maybe I’ll go for a walk. That’s meant to be stress relieving, right? Never mind the barking dogs – they’re all stuck behind their fences. Everything will be just fine. (As she breathes in and out, now anxious to leave this post behind.) Everything is fine.

I need a cup of tea.