On Being Aware of Stress
It's been quiet around here for a number of reasons, but the first and foremost is that I've been quite ill. I hadn't felt 'right' this month, and especially the past few weeks, but chalked it up to the adjustments in lifestyle and diet, or maybe a short-term bug. As the physical symptoms persisted, however, and I'll spare you the details, I decided to stop by a clinic. When the doctor asked if I knew that I had a fever, it gave me pause. That I was unaware of my physical condition frightened me. And what my condition was attributed to, stress, frightened me even more.
I've said before that I think to myself every day that I can't believe I live here, that A and I made a decision to move abroad and then we did. That I could be stressed to a point of physical manifestation was shocking to me. And then I reflected. 2017 has been a non-stop year: we made the decision to move in January and spent every free moment planning around and acting on that decision. Every weekend was spent hosting friends and family and saying our goodbyes. Every day at work with my students and even their families was emotionally charged. The school year ended and I had to pack up my home of five years, the five most defining years of my life, and drive all we could fit into a Honda Civic halfway across the country, where I left my little cat and then left the country. Not a week after we arrived in Seoul, I started work at my new school. Within that week, we moved into our officetel where we started from scratch--a mattress and bedding and cleaning supplies.
Then there are the day-to-day stresses: mom calling and texting every single day, having to hop on a bus for every meal, bumping into walls every which way you turn because your officetel is so small, (for a stretch of time) not being connected unless there was wifi, communicating in your non-dominant language...
And that's without agonizing over all that's going on in the States and in the world. I wonder how I could have ever been unaware of the stress, and it's not shocking that I'd be sick from it weeks before our first break, finally feeling settled in.
Thankfully, what the doctor prescribed seems to be working--a number of pills, adjustments in diet, and focus on a more relaxed lifestyle. My personal prescription is to compartmentalize less, delete what's unnecessary, and find more of what feels good (right now, that's yoga, essential oils, exploring, and cold-pressed juice). Rather than manage stress, I'm working towards getting to the root of it.