No, that isn’t the title of my autobiography.
Today my Mom drove up to our place so I could take her to a doctor’s appointment over on the east side. She did really good this time and didn’t leave her place too early. (On previous occasions, I’ve glanced outside to see her out there a half an hour before she was supposed to be here, bless her heart.) Unfortunately, due to some pretty major road construction happening on our road, they had closed it down by the highway entrance, and wouldn’t let her through. I didn’t know that they were closing it off, or I would have had her come the other way.
She was a few minutes late, and I was starting to get worried about her, but she finally made it...then she told me what had happened. She had to turn around and backtrack a bit in order to get to our house the back way. (That was also blocked off to through traffic, but we could get out and back in that way.) She was a little wigged out, worried that she was going to be late to her appointment, and I patted her hand and tried to get her to relax a bit. I said, “You know what? Even if we were a little bit late, it wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s all okay, and you can’t sweat the small stuff.” We got there in plenty of time, and the doctor was running late, anyway, so no worries. However, her blood pressure was way up because of this, and the doctor thinks that might be part of what is causing her dizziness, so she needs to contact her regular doctor tomorrow. (This guy was an ENT specialist.) Even as the nurse was checking her BP, Mom was telling her about this incident, and I had to make calming motions with my hands to get her to stop, and the nurse had her take a deep breath.
My sister Diana met us there, and we all talked a little bit about handling stress. Mom seems to worry about so many things, and we tried to get her to think about how she could not get quite so wound up about stuff. I don’t know if just being more aware of the problem might get her to stop and take some deep breaths when she feels her BP going up, but I think I’ll suggest the deep breathing thing.
It got me to thinking about my own response to stressful situations. Although I’m certainly no Zen master, and I can get plenty wound up at times, I generally have a fairly calm reaction to most things. It takes a lot to send me into a tizzy. I guess I’ve come to the realization that there are always things (most things, actually) that are beyond my control, and I can either let it freak me out, or I can adapt and find an alternative. I always do my best to be on time to something, but if I’m 5 or 10 minutes late, is the world going to come to a standstill? Of course not. There were some people at the lab who didn’t handle change well, and every new method or new test (and because it’s a constantly changing field, there were many changes) was a reason to get worked up into a lather.
I also had my moments in the lab, and I have my moments now. But I’ve learned to try to not lose my shit. It doesn’t do anyone any good, including me. I had to look this up to see who wrote it, and I was surprised (I’m not sure why) to see that it was Rudyard Kipling: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.” I won’t go quite that far, but I know it’s better for my own health, and probably for that of those around me.
Keep calm and carry on, citizens.