Stress Fractures and Self-Care
2013 was the last time that I reacted to a situation by causing property damage. Since then, I have learned some very important lessons and how to take better care of myself. The long and short of it was - I had a broken window in my bedroom upstairs. Not a complete break. It was a double-pane window, and only the top half, inside pane is broken. I broke it. I was upset had a break down last January, got mad completely lost it, and threw a book (a hard cover book) at the chimney in my room. Except, in my rage, I wasn't paying attention to where I was really throwing it and my book hit the window... hard. Glass shattered... and I shattered. I remember calling mom that night and crying, "I think I need help."
That window was like that for several months. When the window guy came to measure a different window, before he left, I asked him if he could look at another window so that I could order a new pane. I told him, "The details aren't important, but I need to order a new pane for my broken window upstairs." We went upstairs, he measured the window, and says - "I'm just going to have them send you a new sash; I put in the computer that this window had a stress fracture." I just smiled, said thank you, signed off on his work, and sent him on his way.
Stress fractures, as defined by the Mayo Clinic are "tiny cracks in a bone. Stress fractures are caused by the repetitive application of force, often by overuse — such as repeatedly jumping up and down or running long distances. Stress fractures can also arise from normal use of a bone that's been weakened by a condition ..." (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-fractures/DS00556)
Looking at stress fractures simply and metaphorically for a moment, I'm going to define a stress fracture simply as "a crack caused by unusual and/or repeated stress." My stress fracture and broken window were the result of many unusual and repeated stressors over a course of 3-4 months. I had neglected self-care and paying attention to the things that mattered most to me. Some of these stressors were self-inflicted; some were environmental, and some I had no control over at all. Any one of those stressors I could have handled just fine on its own, but all of them without healthy coping skills and I eventually became a walking time bomb.
Interestingly, Mayo Clinic has 4 steps to prevent stress fractures. It is interesting how these considerations can be applied to both the physical body and the emotional/psychological part of the self, as well.
Make changes slowly. Only tackle one major life change at a time, if at all possible.
Use proper footwear. What equipment do you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle? This equipment might be a specific book, a pair of good running shoes, a quiet space, healthy food, supportive relationships.
Cross-train. What activities do you do? In addition to working, do you volunteer or serve others? If you work with people, get some time alone to recharge. Have a "personal trainer" or confidant that you can go to when you need coaching.
Get proper nutrition. Develop skills and activities in your daily life that promote emotional, physical, and spiritual balance and well-being.
Like my window finally being fixed, stress fractures (or breakdowns) aren't permanent. They do, however, require attention and patience to heal. Imperfections are normal, stress is okay, and having a hard time is okay. Tackle one stress at a time, take it day by day, and before you know it you will have hope for a renewed life.
I can laugh now at my story, and often share it with clients when they are feeling like they are going to lose it. I laugh because the window did experience a stress fracture (even though it was caused by me). I smiled because I knew, without a doubt, that it was finally time to let go of my past and continue to grow even more.