This post is very much related to my blog post entitled “Peace and Rest” and the links at the bottom of my “About Our Faith” webpage. Having looked around the internet at times during my personal journey of EMF/MCS sensitivities for a Judeo-Christian perspective on environmental sensitivities, I found few or nil results for what I felt should be voiced and found easily by anyone searching for encouragement and direction for the stresses involved in this isolating and lifestyle-changing condition. The thoughts on these blogs bring together a Christian and practical view on suffering, healthy stress management, and human relationship to the environment. It is written especially for those of my readers, like myself, who find themselves at a crossroads of change and thus, have a measure of stress in their lives which is not often addressed, in my opinion, in a really helpful manner. Having said this, my blog here is intended as simply “mom-to-mom friendly advice and tips” and not offered as official medical advice. I have no medical qualifications.
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We all have CHOICES in life. YOU aren’t “stuck” in everything – you can still make choices! ♥
1. Look around at other people and consider their challenges.
We have to remember that STRESS can be a good thing. Too much stress is not. But too little stress is also not healthy. We also have to remember that EVERYONE has stress of some extent, at least some of the time. And EVERYONE experiences unhealthy conditions at least some of the time. There is no person with perfect health and no stress. And thus, this shouldn’t be a standard to compare ourselves to since it is a very unrealistic expectation. Some people end up with a different ailment to handle. Environmental sensitivities just happens to be one of the ones you might end up handling. My friend might have to deal with cancer while I deal with reactions to the environment. Yes, environmental sensitivities is somewhat a unique thing to explain to people but that is mainly because it is more rare and less understood by society. (There are many other rare conditions too but sensitivity to the identical environment shared with other people who aren’t showing symptoms is unique in how knowledge of it might impact society in general.) But regardless of what type(s) of things YOU struggle with, it is a good thing to remind ourselves that EVERYONE will have stress and is helped by knowing how to deal with it because it will be a natural part of our lives here. We don’t have to live self-absorbed with our problems. You can usually think of someone who has troubles which you can be thankful that you don’t have.
2. Tell yourself the TRUTH.
In our self-esteemed culture, far too often we have been told lies. As a result, expectations get quite distorted from what is real life. For example, you might think, “I’m so limited. I can’t do ANYTHING!” Yet to combat that false idea, our culture often gives us just as false statements like, “You can be anything you want to be. You can have everything you want to have.” Two lies don’t equal a truth.
We cannot be anything we want to be. We cannot have everything we want to have.
We are not God. We did not create nature. God did. We cannot control nature; we can only make choices for some things. We are a part of nature, created by God. (And nature is not God either. God is perfect. Nature is not perfect.)
God is all-powerful. We are not. God is perfect in knowledge (knowing everything). We are not; we can’t see all things working together. But God can. God is all-wise. We are not.
God sees the bigger picture. We might think that something is good for us when in fact, it isn’t in the long term. I am content in knowing that God sees it all, He cares for me, and guides me in what is good, even if this means that I experience difficulties along the way. God is always with those who put their trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7) I do not need to worry. And when I do, I can lean on Him and know that He WILL look after it all.
2. Accept environmental sensitivities as something which can be actually GOOD for you and those you love. Recognize these things happened to you for a greater purpose. Stop fighting to try to have your old lifestyle back. Don’t allow bitterness to creep in. There are benefits to having difficulties – your life won’t be boring, it allows for personal growth and character development, and it can refocus your attention off of what you can do to what God can do. Look at it and prepare to be amazed! Build a life of gratitude.
3. Be willing to change your lifestyle to reflect what is a better one. A new adventure awaits! Don’t live in the past bemoaning what is now a limitation or a loss. Acknowledge the memories yes, but move on from them too. Just what could you do with a lifestyle that has less damaging affects to you? Do you need to change your job? That’s OK! Lots of people do that for various reasons. What would you like to learn that you think you could do? What skills do you already have that you can still do and enjoy? Change your housing? That’s OK! Where could you live? (Pull out a map of Canada and look at the expanse of it!) Seriously look at the possibility of moving elsewhere since many people in general have experienced huge improvements when they change to live in a better environment. It is likely less stressful than continuing to combat the environment where you are presently that affects you so much! Take a vacation to look at potential areas. Think of the fresh air, trees, and land space in the countryside, the potential to see the stars at night from your own backyard, potential to grow a garden, walk where it is quiet except for natural sounds, etc.. It isn’t like this is a worse lifestyle to change to – you can be surrounded by beauty! Ask family members to visit you (rather than you getting sick going back to a city). Communicate by landline phone, snail mail, and even e-mail or Skype on a wired computer. Learn about homesteading from a Christian perspective. You’re living in a time period where you aren’t the only person if you choose a simpler lifestyle that is more natural – it’s both trendy and standing out from the crowd. Become a lifelong learner if you aren’t already and choose to enjoy learning how to make things yourself, do with less technology and less dependence on the urban environment. I truly believe there are more upsides to changing your lifestyle like this than downsides. Try it for the short-term or long-term. Short-term – camp outdoors in a clean and green environment this summer for a week or two (e.g. a provincial park)! Long-term – find a (clean) rural home that comes with possibilities to do something on the property for day-to-day needs so that you’re not always running into community buildings like stores.
4. Lay aside the fear of people calling you crazy. Some people won’t understand, at least initially, why you look or act the way you should now with your sensitivities. But there are still people around who realize you aren’t crazy for wearing shielded clothing or avoiding certain environments. Try to educate the people you have the opportunity to meet with simple facts. (I sometimes offer them a printed thing if they initiate a conversation so that I don’t have to talk long on my errand. It’s a way to give a short explanation and move on.) I have found that most people are fairly respectful, even if I wear my headnet in the middle of a Canadian winter and they begin the conversation by saying, curiously, “Um, you know, there aren’t any bugs around here this time of year.” Think of something joyful or quip back to reply in return. 🙂 Be willing to laugh at yourself too. Or at least find some things to laugh about.
5. Relax the natural way. I know we live in a culture which has often somehow lost the common sense of how to relax naturally but really, it is so effective for the amount of effort put into it. Don’t relax by learning management techniques and rituals – they are an empty, dead-end street which leads you only to have to repeat them carefully or else, plus they can be very damaging spiritually. Turn away from those “stress reduction techniques” and go for something much better! There is much more freedom and enjoyment in relaxing in a variety of natural expressions of rest and recreation. Think about what you could be doing such as sitting on the grass sipping lemon water, lying down on a quilt to look up at the clouds or the stars, eat lunch or breakfast under the shade of a tree at a wooden picnic table, sit down on the ground on a cool morning with a big sleeping bag around you and watch the tiny ants begin their busy day, sit on a lawn chair (or kitchen chair) by your back door and watch the birds, (draw a picture of them in a sketchbook if you’re artistic or paint or take a photograph – with a non-“cloud-based” camera of course), photograph snowflakes or deer or flowers, sit with someone else and talk with them without referring to any technology, put on a warm coat and pair of snowpants and boots and go sit in a snowbank for a while, etc. etc. Learn how to tap maple syrup or at least how to identify kinds of trees. Get a pair of binoculars (useful for day or night viewing of nature). Did you know that you don’t have to watch T.V. if you want to sit in a recliner? (Of course you did!) Find other things to do while sitting in it such as reading, handi-crafts, sketching, painting (yes, it is OK to get a stain but try to keep it clean of course), singing to a little child, etc.. How about finding some funny cartoon comics to read and laugh at? Are you feeling cold sitting in a Muskoka chair watching your children play baseball or in the sandbox in the autumn months? Ask them to bring you a lap quilt or afghan rather than thinking you just can’t sit outdoors because it isn’t summer at a beach. It is really OK to take a blanket outside. And remember, you don’t have to wash it every time you get a speck of dirt or grass on it either. It’s OK to touch nature and enjoy it – really it is. This is what I mean by relaxing naturally! Low-effort, lots of fun, greatly effective, and in the end, you’ve accomplished something highly enjoyable as well as reduced your stress!
6. Spend time with people. You might need to find new friends. An evangelical church is a good place to find them. Look for opportunities in your community to simply even see other people in environments which are healthy such as perhaps a park, a picnic, or a small store that doesn’t have wifi or crowds of customers with cell phones. Look for opportunities to serve other people with kindness. Maybe there is a day camp which needs volunteers or a farmer’s market in a safe location. Or maybe it will just simply be lending a smile and a helping hand to someone for a moment.
7. Trust in God and enjoy a loving, vibrant relationship with your Creator! You know that this life isn’t all there is – God has made you with a sense of eternity ahead! So take time to consider where you are at in a spiritual relationship with your Creator. Search for the truth in the Bible – the Book that God has written and preserved so that you CAN know Him in THIS generation, what has been in the past and will be in the future. The Bible is very relevant to our lives now too! For those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord, those encouraging promises in God’s Word are for YOU! When you feel discouraged, weak, lonely, tired, frustrated, excited, and any other of the variety of emotions we’ve been created with, you can go to the Bible, read it, and apply His promises to your life. Pray to Him – He is always with you and knows your thoughts. You can pray anywhere and anytime to Him, in your busy moments, in your quiet moments, in the day or in the middle of the night. He is always with you to hear you and reassure you of His loving presence.
Here is a song about prayer produced by a ministry called Child Evangelism Fellowship that I remember from my childhood: Did You Ever Talk To God Above? Tell Him that You Need a Friend to Love?