Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stress and Autoimmune Disease {Just Say No}

I'm a teacher, so I have a long summer vacation each year. This year, I decided to focus on relaxing and recentering myself. I mean, I had the time, so why not?

Every day I did pretty much the same thing: I worked out, I prepared a bit for my upcoming school year, I blogged some, I cooked good food, I did chores and I spent time with the hubster. And I was relaxed. Some weekends were a bit hectic when we had lots of plans, but my weeks were always fairly calm, allowing me to recharge completely.

Life was good. I was well rested as I got 9+ hours of sleep every night, my digestion was improving more and more each day, my mood was cheery and I was productive when I sat down to work. Not only was I publishing new content on my blog nearly daily, I was also whizzing through lesson plans and had even managed to mop my floors on a weekly basis.

Then my work year started up again, which meant early mornings and 4-7 hour work days with no chores, lesson/food prep or blogging getting done in those hours. I also have weekly meeting with my colleagues, as well as running around town to get all the necessary paperwork needed to work, as I am not Belgian. The hubster and I just joined our local crossfit box, which moved my morning workouts to the evening, entailing more meal prep so we have easy dinners after late sessions.

It's been two weeks, and let me tell you - I can feel the difference.

I am tired. I feel like I can't get enough sleep. I'm always in bed before 11 o'clock, no excuses, but that only gives me about 7 1/2 hours of sleep.

I am touchier. I have less patience with my students as well as with the hubster. Especially on our way to crossfit - I have a million things that need to be done at home, yet I'm leaving... {The physical activity does me a world of good, both mentally and physically, so this is something I won't give up. It's also why I go, even though I complain about having to go :P}

My digestion is all over the place. I eat things I normally have no issue with, and they bother me. I eat things I usually have issues with, and they don't bother me. My IBS has come back full force and I spend the better part of most days feeling completely miserable due to bloat, cramps, gas, pains... or a mix of all four.

This picture was taken Friday... the large black pot was used Tuesday, just to give you an idea of my priorities right now.

My appartment is a disaster. I fall behind on the dishes, my floor hasn't been swept for two weeks and there is clutter everywhere I look. The only things I manage to keep up with is food prep {because we gotta eat} and laundry {because we gotta crossfit}.

I haven't started working on this school year's project yet. Every year my school chooses a theme and every class works in a project based on that theme... my students don't even know what this year's theme is. #badteacher

All this to say... I said no to the hubster this weekend. You see, it's his village's annual festival all this weekend, and we usually stay with his parents and enjoy the festivities all weekend long. It's a great time to see old friends again and catch up with people from the village we don't get the chance to see nearly enough.

I decided not to go Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning. I decided to only go Sunday afternoon so I could treat my godson to a couple fair rides and games and quickly say hi to everyone.

The hubster was upset, and I can understand him. A year ago, I would have said yes to the whole weekend - and I would have had a great time! But I also would have fallen even further behind on the dishes. My floor would still have bits of food on it. My counters would still be strewn with food containers and papers to file. I would have lost even more sleep. I probably would have yelled at at least a couple people for absolutely no reason. My students would be forced to wait another week to find out about the year's theme. My IBS would have continued to get worse. And I would most likely have fallen sick (my throat is a bit scratchy as I type...).

A lot has changed, and I'm a lot stronger than the person I was a year ago. I know my body and my limits a lot better now, and I can affirm myself a lot easier. I have also realized that putting yourself first is primordial, not selfish.

I, like everyone else, deserve to be healthy, and stress management is a huge part of that. Having autoimmune issues magnifies that need even more. Not only are folks like us more susceptible to fatigue and stress, but we also have reactions that can be much stronger and far more painful than the average Joe. Sadly, we must also learn to accept other's judgments. Ours are diseases that, for the most part, can't be seen. People have a hard time relating to things they don't know, especially if it can't be seen.

Prepping MYO Salads {from Paleo To Go - enter to win a copy here} and Bone Broth {from The Paleo Approach Cookbook} - with lots more food prepping to come! I finally got all my dishes done and put away!

I decided I was worth it. I took my weekend. I relaxed. I slept. I corrected papers. I cleaned. I tidied up. I went grocery shopping. I prepped food... and I wrote a blog post. And tomorrow I'm going to spend a lovely afternoon with my godson, surrounded by wonderful people who don't realize just how much I needed to say "no". These people are surely going to crack jokes about how "lazy teachers are" or about how "stressful" teaching must be - but I won't care. They aren't in my shoes, so they couldn't possibly understand - and I can't blame them for that.

I hope the rest of you have a relaxing, stress-free weekend. And, if you need to say no yourself, I hope you have the courage to do so. Need some ideas for relaxing? Here are my favorite ways to chill out:

-Read a good book.

-Sip some hot herbal tea. 
-Listen to music and fold socks.

What are your favorite ways to relax?


  1. I would actually have gone to the weekend festivities instead to get away from the stresses and to 'play.' Sounds like you have too much on your plate, maybe something needs to get taken off temporarily until things calm down? Having a clean house is nice, but you're not any less of a person if you haven't washed your floors in a month.... like I do. Dishes get done every night thought.

    How much does your husband help around the house and with meal prep? I've enlisted my husband to do meal prep with me every week because he's eating the food, so he needs to help make it. It halves a 3-4 hour task and gives us time to unwind and watch a film/Breaking Bad on DVD after a training session.

    1. I totally get your take on things, but going away all weekend and leaving my house like it was would have been setting myself up for a horrible week. As for having too much on my plate - I probably do! But I'm also just getting back into the rhythm of working during the day... the beginnings of school year's are always a bit stressful for me.

      As for the hubster... he helps when he can, but being freelance, he often works Saturdays as well - and we try to keep Sunday our "fun day" no matter what.

      Thanks for your tips, I'm sure I'll be finding a pattern to fall into soon. Bit until then, saying no was the best thing I could have done for my health and sanity :P

      P.S. - We sleep after training sessions! :P