Everyone Needs A Little Rest & Relaxation

Bowen Island sunset

Bowen Island sunset

Our recent trip to Mexico reminded me of the importance of taking time for rest and relaxation.  To regroup and destress.  Unwind and do a lot of nothing.

I realize this is another integral piece of my healing puzzle.

Cancer thrives on stress.  Most diseases do.  When we are overworked, overextended, and pushed to the limit our bodies react.  We go into “flight or fight” mode.  Cortisol levels spike.  Adrenaline zips through our bodies.  If stress continues unchecked our bodies begin to break down.  Immune systems falter.  Skin reactions like breakouts and rashes occur.  Organs become taxed and begin to shutdown.  Aches and pains are magnified.  Tissues and cells are damaged.

I recently learned through the testing my naturopath did that my own cortisol levels were in a reverse curve as a result of the chronic stress I was under for the last four years.  Now we are trying to rewire it back to normal with supplements and diet &  lifestyle changes.

Despite knowing how important this piece of the puzzle is, I still struggle with making rest and relaxation a priority.  A lot of people do.

A big reason for this is the society we live in…  With its messages about working hard and being productive…  The admonishments about being lazy…  It is built into the fabric of the United States.  The country that gives workers a mere 2 weeks vacation (while places like Brazil and Sweden get 4-6 weeks)…  The country that offers no paid maternity or paternity leave – making us the ONLY first world nation on Earth to deny parents this right.  We are clearly delivering the message that working hard and being “productive” is the most important thing in life…  And then we wonder why our kids are so messed up!?!??  Don’t get me started…

Even as a stay-at-home-mom I feel judged.  I feel the need to detail just how busy my days are.  To dispel the false perception that being a SAHM means I sit on my ass all day and watch TV.  In truth, it is the hardest job I’ve ever had.

Most of my life I’ve bought into these false notions.  Believing somehow that my worth was based on how much I accomplished.  I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I’ve worked steadily since the age of 15 – Sometime working 3 different jobs at once…  Often times juggling work with school to pay my way through college…   Burning the candle at both ends.

But our bodies can only live like this for so long.

When cancer came knocking on my door in 2011 I knew things had to change.

At the beginning of my cancer journey I read an amazing book – Lynn’s Legacy by Christa Johnson, MD.  One part in particular stuck with me…  Her acknowledgment that, “It is not unusual for a person to develop [illness]…. as the only way he or she can justify taking time out to get needed rest.”   Shit.  That was me.

After years of being stressed to the max and caring for everyone else but myself, I finally had a way to justify taking care of me.  How sad that the reason was metastatic breast cancer.  A part of me believes the Universe brought metastatic disease into my life so I would always have the perfect “excuse” to take care of myself.  But now my goal is to embrace self care, rest, and  relaxation for its own sake.  For my sake.  Because it is necessary.  Because I deserve it.  And not cling to cancer for justification.

So what do I do to rest, relax, and take care of myself?  I blog…  I read…  I continue go for reiki sessions…  I exercise…  I meditate…  I go for walks in the woods or head to the beach…  I take vacations…  I watch the sunset…  I chat with my girlfriends…   I spend time with those I love…   I make regular trips to NYC (which I’m doing again this week!  Yay!)…  And I’m trying to be ok with just sitting around and doing nothing every once and a while.

Most people assume the changes to my diet predicated my healing.  Although I know that is a major piece of the puzzle, I also know in my heart that it is the deeper work, the psychological work, the soul work that has truly made a difference.

Listen to your soul.  Take care of yourself.  And find some time for a little R&R.

Peace.  – T

Nature walk with Miss M at Wegerzyn Gardens Metropark

Nature walk with Miss M at Wegerzyn Gardens Metropark

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8 Responses

  1. Hi hun, it is so good to read your blog, as a SAHM too i feel i never ever stop and think of myself too, it just isnt mother nature is it! Thank you for making me think a little. It was so lovley to see you guys got away and celebrated and rejoiced in style.. Well done you.. Keep well and happy hun. Much love xxx

  2. I really like your blog, this particular post especially for its critique of the North American cult of being busy (prevalent in Canada as well as the U.S.). Best wishes to you and all your family.

    Carl Rosenberg
    Vancouver, BC

  3. This entry is a touchstone for me. Pesticides and heavy metals are not the only toxic wastes inundating us daily. And illness isn’t the only consequence. We so need balance and renewal! Thanks, Terri, and more power to you. More blessings to us all!

    • Happy to speak about my experience with the Block Center… It was actually a really good one. I only went once (so far) but spent an entire day there meeting with a host of different folks – an oncologist, psychologist, nutritionist, and even Dr Block himself. Did a ton of blood work and had my diet & supplements adjusted accordingly. They were very helpful & knowledgeable – about both traditional & holistic treatment options. I know others who go there regularly as well and speak highly of the center. Insurance covered the whole thing except the time with the nutritionist (which cost me $250).
      Hope that helps. If you have more specific questions feel free to ask.
      Best, – T

  4. Thanks a lot! glad to hear that you had a great experience there. I remember you wrote in your blog that Block Center suggested you doing the surgery. If you don’t mind, could you please share the reason? Also, do they support you to stop herceptin etc.? Thanks again for all of your help!

    • No problem. Glad to share my experiences… The Block Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering both suggested I have the mastectomy. They agreed it was good to be aggressive and figured since I did so well with the chemo, and the cancer was confined to the breast area, why not remove it. My Ohio doctor, however, suggested that I not do the surgery. His stance is always to do the least harm and doesn’t advocate for invasive procedures unless absolutely necessary.
      As for the herceptin… The Block Center wasn’t involved in that decision so I’m not sure if they would support me or not. When I went there last summer their suggestions did involve the usual med recommendations. But I think all doctors are required to mention the usual “standard of care” med options. Fortunately, my oncologist in Ohio is open minded and has supported me in my “alternative” path. So far so good.
      Hope that helps. Cheers. – T

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