Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Tree of My Happy and My Stressors

I attended a seminar on Self-Care for Caregivers today. I am not yet a caregiver per se but I was there to accompany my mom and to help out the Ladies Fellowship who organized the one-day event, and I was so blessed by it.

One of the activities that I found very special was what I shall call The Tree of My Happy and My Stressors. 

In the context of being a caregiver, we need to be aware of who we are and the reason why we chose to be a caregiver. "Having no choice" is a reason in itself that will play into how we should manage ourselves in self-care, and self-care is something every caregiver should have an awareness of. 

In the activity, we drew a picture of a tree on a large piece of paper with our name stuck on the trunk. That tree represented each of us personally.  We then wrote down what our stressors are, things that stresses us.

But before that, we did list down our stress symptoms, or what happens to us when we get stressed out. They can be sleeplessness, fatigue, breakout of eczema, losing weight, over eating, etc. These act as alarm buzzers for us. When we notice these symptoms, it is a warning that we might be stressed and we will get burned out if we are not careful. One of my symptoms is me being really short tempered and my poor son will get the brunt of it. It is a sure sign that I am so stressed out that I know I must manage it. 

After listing out our stressors, we listed down the things we do that make us happy. Mine were stuff like reading, singing, journaling, family time and grocery shopping.

All these stressors and happy things are each written on post-it notes, which were stuck onto our trees. The stressors in the "soil", buried deep so to speak and the happy things on the branches and leaves, out in the open. 


When we were asked about how we felt when we did the activity, I wasn't so sure about it. I began to wonder why should my stressors be in the root area. Analogically, the stronger and deeper the roots, the stronger and firmer the tree. But when I looked at my stressors, they looked heavy and negative. I felt like they could poison my roots and the tree will die.

But as I thought about it and as what our speaker then told us was exactly the lesson behind this activity. It's that we may see the stressors as negative and bad, but they are not necessarily so. Yes, we need positive stuff and yes, we definitely have them in the roots but when it comes to our stressors, if they are managed well, these stressors can be the very thing that will build us to become stronger. It is true that they can poison us but only if we do not manage them properly and if we don't commit them to God.

Moreover, they are the very reason why our happy things are happy. They give our happy things meaning. Without the stressors, I felt that my happy things sounded very trivial and useless. But with the stuff that I am building at the root, both positive and negative, the leaves and branches will become healthier.


After we had our trees all done up, we each wrote a letter to God and placed it in an envelope. We then took down all the stressors and happy things from our trees and put them into the envelope to be "posted" to God.

It felt very therapeutical.


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