Graduation: Pride, Tears, Fun & Stress

Graduation: JOY and… STRESSSSSS

Seniors are preparing to rejoice while the parents are feeling the stress!

You remember the moment you found out you were pregnant and the first time you saw your baby. Although you remember bits and pieces of your child’s life; your baby is graduating high school.

Graduation should be a time to cherish but instead we hear patients telling us it’s “sucking the life out of” them. They are teary,  experiencing insomnia, feel depressed, have debilitating headaches and can’t get their blood pressure under control. They ‘don’t have time’ to exercise, eat right or sleep.

You are in the midst of a whirl-winds of your ‘baby’ running in and out, worrying about their safety while you are also irritated by an often self-absorbed “ALL ABOUT ME” mentality.  (Where did your baby go?)

The Stress of It All

Finals, proms (the tux, dress, transportation, after party, flowers, shoes,nails, hair), will she/he graduate (too many absences, finals, truancies), scholarships, senior events, graduation (weather, perfect gifts). Then the party: invites, who, how many?, rent a tent, chairs, and what food. You’ll need to landscape, paint and make sure the toilet doesn’t clog.

All the while life goes on with a stressful job, commuting in the car that needs repair, the showers, weddings & 1st communions this month.  You have other kids who just might need to eat, get to work, school & sports games. They need new clothes because somehow they grew 5 inches, 3 shoe sizes & gained 15 pounds.  There are huge piles of laundry and the dishwasher is leaking (you better cater that party) and your mom is having more “pains” and can’t find her glasses and your dog is vomitting…do I need to continue? At the end of the day you think “I really need to call the doctor” because the medication (for headaches, back pain, depression, or insomnia) they prescribed just isn’t working.

Stress is often unavoidable.  There is no way to simply ‘not participate’ in the chaos of an upcoming graduation with all the time and financial commitments.  The confrontation with the rest of your family as the tidal wave of the season hits.  So Stress we must endure… And Cortisol (the fight or flight hormone) we use… and use… and use… and use.   And here’s a not-so-fun fact: Alcohol, lack of sleep and caffeine increase cortisol.

Prolonged high cortisol increases systemic (whole body) inflammation which is linked to dis-ease in the body by shifiting the way our cytokines (pro-inflammatory guys) are secreted.

  • Heart disease (stroke and heart attack): according to the Centers for Diseasce Control; heart disease is the number one cause of death
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety (this effects relationships at home and at work)
  • Obesity: from ‘stress eating’, high levels of cortisol (a hormone which rises in stress) and lack of exercise
  • Illness: cortisol levels rise and decrease the immune response

What can you do (short of running away)?

  1. Change the “shoulds” to”coulds” and prioritize (“I should make all the food for the party…I could order the food).
  2. Make a list of only ten things to do each day. This will decrease daily stress and you will get more done. Make a point to put a minimum of one thing on your list that is for YOU (read, walk, yoga)
  3. Delegate! That senior will have time to help you
  4. Talk to your family. Have them choose how they can help (and let go of perfection!)
  5. 7-8 per day rule (water, vegetables & fruit, hours of sleep). Trouble sleeping?  Consider Yoga Nidra (meditation app on your phone), Valerian root tincture (1-2 droppersful to help shut off the brain) and Magnesium glycinate 300-450mg at bedtime to help reduce overall anxiety feelings
  6. Exercise 30 minutes a day – even if its walking, hiking, biking or parking far away during errands.
  7. Tapping, Acupuncture, massage, Reiki, meditation or yoga (can be found on demand), journaling, singing, laughing.
  8. Download a meditation or breathing app – guided 5″ a couple times a day will drastically change your stress.
  9. Journal. May just be something you give the Sr when their going through it when their child is a Sr…
  10. Find joy. Every day find one thing that ignites joy and not stress.

You deserve a life of delight & health. Don’t wait for the ‘crash’ or doctor visit; empower yourself (and your baby) to control the stress.  Work together as a family to reduce, reuse and recycle 4 Better Health.


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