Saturday Morning Message: Stress Reduction Strategies
Author: Carol Lane
The picture this week is from a TAPS seminar. I was inspired to use it by the suggestions given by several survivors this week. I had not thought about cooking as a way to manage stress, but you will read more in the Answers from Survivors section.
TAPS is constantly working on events and programs to help survivors on their journey. As you read this, think about what you might like to do when stress enters your life. Here are a few ideas that come from the TAPS website. Some involve traveling and others you can do right from your home: survivor seminars, retreats, teams4taps, the online community, and chats. Writing can also be helpful. In addition to writing responses or sending a question for the Saturday Morning Message, there is also a monthly Writers’ Circle Newsletter where you can share your writing with other survivors. If you would like to be included in either of these, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look for thoughts you have. You can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. By sharing coping strategies, together we become stronger.
If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
A few months back, I asked the question about what you have done with your loved one’s military items. The responses centered around the items like uniforms, etc. Annette, mother of Joseph, has another question. She wrote, “I have so much paperwork from Joe's military years. He has been gone five and half years and when I think of getting rid of it, a part of me feels like I am tossing him out or his history. The feeling is indescribable. I know in my heart that Joe would tell me to toss it. Of course, I would hold on to significant documents, but I am speaking about the other paperwork.” So the question this week is: What have you done with your loved one’s paperwork?
Replies to the weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday afternoon. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have.
♫ Song for the Week
I was listening to a show about 60s music and the song, "Turn Around Look at Me" sung originally by the Lettermen came on. Although not all the words fit what happens at TAPS, I thought the message the song gives is that you are not alone, so it would be a perfect song of the week for the topic about reducing stress.
I am looking for more songs to put in the Saturday Morning Message, so if you have a song that is special to you or reminds you of your loved one, please send it along with a sentence or two about what makes this song distinctive.
Answers from Survivors
From Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew: Well, I have always loved to cook although I was not always the best cook. I learned from trying over the years.
My son used to come home from college or his job at a restaurant and say to me “Mom, let’s sit down and talk because you are cooking up a storm of food tonight, so I know something is going on with you.” He was almost always correct. He and I would talk it out and then he would say, “Should I call my college friends and tell them to come over for dinner?” Of course, I said, “Yes, do that.” His friends loved me.
I still use cooking to enhance my day and feed so many of my neighbors and church members. I am a petite woman and cannot or do not eat that much, but it never stops me. Not to mention that I taste all the way along so I am full by the time the food is finished (ha). The satisfaction I get out of cooking is enough to feed me and when I share it, I get an inner peace.
The other thing I do is paint. Sometimes folks say to me, “I can’t draw a straight line or even draw a stick figure!” The thing about art is this: No one needs to know how to draw a straight line. It comes down to expressing your feelings and putting them on paper. Use whatever medium you have around, pencils, markers, chalk, watercolor paints or other. Hey, if it turns out to be not what you really wanted- well cut it up and use the pieces to glue onto a card to send to others. All art is appreciated and so therapeutic. I never throw out my art “mistakes.” They can be little gems.
Art and cooking are an expression like other outlets and it allows one to “breathe” and think about the task at hand. It gets your mind free for a short while from your grief.
From Rebecca, mother of Griffin: To relieve stress, which is every day, I do jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, but most of all take care of Axela, my son, Griff’s, four-paw gift from Heaven's Military.
I also crochet and call it “wraps of love” in memory of Sgt. Griff. I make scarves, hats, winter bands to cover the front of head and ears, and baby and lap afghans. I make coasters in all shapes, sizes, different colors, different stitches out of leftover yarn. I give crocheted creations away to everyone ... including TAPS and the VA (through my counselor) ... just to do something nice for someone in my Griff’s memory.
Silence is stressful and lonely without my son, Griff, so I also keep one of the sports networks on so there is sound but nothing violent that would upset me further.
This stress depression boat we are in is one very full boat with only compassion for each other.
Allicia, daughter of Burr: One of my go-to's to deal with stress is eating. While that is not the best way to cope, I think if it's done in a way where the occasional treat is a reward rather than a constant it can be positive. For example, I'll look forward to a strawberry sugar cookie at my favorite snack shack as a week end reward when I deal with work pressures. The ways I deal with grief stressors are:
- Running somewhere beautiful!
- Going to dad's grave (when possible) or another sacred place where I can connect with him and with God and share my troubles with them ... almost let them take it away from me for a few minutes.
- The last way I deal with grief stress is through connecting with my TAPS family. There are few things that make me happier than to be with TAPS people. So when I ran the Cape Cod Ragnar on the TAPS team last year, I was able to combine all three! Talk about the greatest stress relief!