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.

#mentalhealth #selfcare #stress #broken

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