Coping with stressful situations can be a challenge, but I came up with three ways to make it work.
I recently returned from a two-week road trip to Los Angeles and back. My daughter, who has had Lyme Disease for 15 years, decided it was time to try stem cells. She made the appointment, we booked an Air B&B, and headed south down the no-man’s-land of Highway 5. We took a short detour to Paso Robles for an overnight visit to see an old friend, and we arrived at our destination in West LA early in the afternoon.
The Air B&B was nice and clean, but our assigned parking space was tight—so tight that it took several attempts to get into the spot. The first time I parked, I had to crawl over to the passenger side to get out. Every time I parked the car, I held my breath in anticipation of hitting either the wall or the car in the next stall.
Then, there was the steady background beat of the traffic. And the traffic! Our daily commute from the Air B&B to the clinic was 3.5 miles straight down Santa Monica Boulevard to Beverly Hills. On most days, the appointments began at 9:00 and ended at 5:00. Our average commute time was 35 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. How people live this way is beyond my comprehension.
While my daughter was at the clinic, I did the grocery shopping and made us healthy meals. Fortunately, both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods were close by, and I found a cute coffee shop within walking distance. Even though I had a GPS, not knowing exactly where I was going added to my stress.
I wasn’t surprised by any of this. During our two-week stay, I noticed that my back ached more than usual. At the time, I thought it was from sleeping on a different mattress. In hindsight, I realize that my stress was from the traffic and my fears of getting lost and hitting the wall or another car in my attempt to park.
Sometime during the end of the first week, I figured out three things to help me cope with stress: simplify, pay attention, and remember to breathe and stretch.
- I simplified my routine. Most days were as simple as drop off, pick up, buy groceries, and make soup. I had brought work with me, but I did much less than I thought I would.
- Whether I was walking or driving, I made an effort to notice my surroundings and look for landmarks. By the time we left, I didn’t have to use the GPS.
- I spent at least 30 minutes a day stretching and paying attention to my breath. Not only did that help my back, but it reminded me to be grateful and put my LA experience into perspective.
My daughter was undergoing treatment that had the potential to repair the damage Lyme Disease had caused. The stress of LA was a very small price to pay for a potentially large return.