Last night, after typing well over my 1500 word goal, I lay down with my mind still spinning.  I hadn’t been there more than a couple of minutes, tossing and turning, trying to find the perfect spot, mind still whirling and trying to decide whether to put myself to sleep with one of my stories when Dylan jumped up on the bed, walked onto my pillow, gave my face a little wash, then curled around my head and started to purr loudly.  For some, this might be a sleep deterrent, but for me (and he knows it well), it is one of the few things that will put me to sleep without fuss, no matter how wild my brain might be cavorting.

It is uncanny how attuned my cats are to my needs and moods.  Just as Toby knew yesterday that I had reached the hour limit I’d set myself to meditate, Dylan knew just when his services were required to stop the hamsters’ wild dance and allow sleep to come to me.

I’ve suffered from migraines nearly all my life.  My first experience was at around 10 when I scared the crap out of my mom who thought I was going blind.  Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about preventing them, minimizing them, and enduring them when nothing works.  Ultimately, I went to a headache clinic where I learned how to relax every muscle in my body, and especially my face, head and neck, to keep the worst from hitting me, literally, between the eyes.

As time went on, I discovered, completely on my own, that drinking one cup of coffee every morning, staying hydrated and remembering to eat protein regularly throughout the day all helped minimize the number of occurrences, and having a chiropractor adjust my neck every month or so seems to be the final deterrent.

What I didn’t find, at least until recently, was a doctor who was willing to admit that any or all of these practices helped prevent or at least minimize my migraines.  Most would give me some folderol about not really understanding headaches, or they would try to attribute them to stress or female stuff.  Honestly, the things I’ve learned about migraines just by trial and error could probably fill another blog!!!

Imagine my surprise when discussing an upcoming procedure with a new doctor, and when I expressed my concerns about bringing on a migraine, she explained to me that lack of protein and dehydration are the biggest culprits, after which she gave me pointers on preventing the migraines while limited to a diet of clear fluids (thankfully, coffee is considered a clear fluid!).  She told me that gelatin is an excellent source of protein, so I should lay in a stock of jello for my clear fluid day and eat it at regular intervals along with the juices, water and broths I’m also allowed.  But above all, I need to stay hydrated!

What a refreshing surprise to find a doctor who doesn’t just want to pump me full of pain meds, but will actually look at the root cause!  It gives me hope that more doctors are leaning towards treating the body holistically instead of chemically.  As mine continues to reject antibiotics, it is clear that chemicals are neither desired nor tolerated in my own, personal little temple.  

I don’t know about other people, but when I’m in pain, my stomach likes to get into the act and do it’s best Mount Vesuvius impression, so plying it with foreign substances is more likely to trigger an eruption than alleviate the pain!  So I’m very grateful to have been referred to a doctor who not only does her homework but has some sense!!!

Which leads me to wonder if we can actually control our stress levels by just eating right, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.  What is stress, really, but our body reacting to being abused, right?  So if we take the time to provide proper fuel, shut down for a reasonable amount of time every day, get some recreation and some socializing in, won’t that keep stress from having the time to build up in our systems?  I’ll bet there is a direct correlation between stress levels and lack of quality in life. 

The way I see it, the ingredients for a low stress life include:
      1. Sufficient sleep
      2. Drinking enough water
      3. Eating predominantly healthy foods.
      4. Minimizing the ingestion of chemicals.
      5. Regular exercise
      6. Social interaction
      7. Lots of laughter
      8. Gratitude

I think this combination can offset the most demanding job, the trials and tribulations of financial challenges, kids, parents, spouses and other challenging individuals and even rush hour traffic! 

Sure, it’s easy to make excuses for short changing ourselves of any and all of these things, but what do you really gain by doing so?  How much  time and effort does it really take to incorporate a little of each into your daily life?  In the process, you might even find, as I did, that a little bit of planning at the front end makes things simpler overall.  Or, like me, you might actually find that the simple task or preparing those meals ahead of time is soothing in and of itself and serves to help you unwind from the day so the sleep you do get is more restful. 

I am living proof that the years I hid behind my computer after work every night were not my happiest, most stress free times.  The times when I pre-plan so that I fix breakfasts and lunches every other day, make regular trips to the gym, get together with friends to dance, visit, see a play, share a meal or whatever else we decide to do, consume gallons of water, get good, restful sleep, laugh often and appreciate every little thing are the times when my joy overflows and, no matter what happens, my life is good. 

I still have the plumbing problems and the bills to pay and the occasional obnoxious neighbor, but you know what?  They don’t really matter.  I deal with them as I need to and let them go!  They don’t become a black cloud over my entire life, but simply one of those things that needs to be dealt with, then let go.  Frankly, I don’t have time to dwell on little annoyances or aggravations.  They simply don’t fit into the space I’ve created for myself!  (which could be another reason for decreased stress levels!  There just isn’t any room for stress in a full, happy life!)

I really encourage people to focus on those things which will bring health and well-being to themselves.  It only makes the path we travel in our current human form more pleasurable.  I know I’m not a fan of sitting around, buried in worries and aches and pains.  I’d rather be out playing, laughing with my friends, or writing long, humor-filled posts!

So, if you’re looking for me, just follow the laughter!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I’ve learned to manage the amount of stress that is allowed in my life.
2. I am grateful for friends and belly laughs.
3. I am grateful for continued enlightenment about stress and migraines.
4. I am grateful for vast improvements in my perspective.
5. I am grateful for an abundance of love, laughter, prosperity and health.

Love and light.