Controlled stress now for gradual improvement later

Today when I woke up, I washed my face and hands with cold water. You have to understand, I have always hated the cold. Even splashing it on my face used to make me nuts. But I have been acclimating myself to tolerating cold water on my face, first thing in the morning. And now I am rinsing my face 5-6 times with cold water when I get up, and it doesn’t bother me.

I also fasted today. I had a cup of coffee and an apple for “breakfast”, and I’ve eaten nothing else all day. No, I’m not trying to punish myself. I’ve been reading about the benefits of intermittent fasting, and I’ve been wanting to fast for a long time (I’ve tried it a few times, but I could never get past a day or two). So, today I decided to just do without meals until tonight. In another 15 minutes, I’ll start cooking supper, and I’m looking forward to it.

I noticed something very interesting today, while I was running my errands. I noticed that I was getting pretty cranky and short-tempered with people over little things, and when I noticed it, I stopped it. I actually had a pretty full day today, but I didn’t feel weak or faint at all. I just felt edgy and without as much impulse control as normal. That must have been the absence of food — maybe low blood sugar?

Anyway, this was not something that was unmanageable. I was able to keep myself pretty well in check and not get in anybody’s face. Good thing 🙂 And it occurred to me that this could be a way to work on controlling my behavior under optimal conditions — when I am well-fed and rested (or not well-rested, as is usually the case). I know I’m hungry, I know I’m going to be more of a bear than I usually am, and I know this time without food will come to an end… so I can just chill and not let things get out of hand. It’s like being one of those folks in the Snickers commercial who turns into a maniac when they’re hungry — only in my case, I’m using my own resources to manage my behavior, not reaching for a candy bar to make it all better.

I think this could be a great way for me to practice self-modulation — under controlled circumstances, with a set timeframe, followed by relief and reward (a good meal). The issues specific to hunger aren’t going to continue after I’m not hungry anymore, so I can relax and know there will be an end to it… and I can develop some good coping mechanisms to fall back on when I’m in the thick of a daylong fast.

Also, when I’m hungry, all the stuff that bothers me comes to mind and starts messing with my head. Learning to handle those things more effectively (which I practiced today with breathing and relaxing and chilling) can only be good. I did notice that I’ve got a whole lot of resentments and frustrations that stay tamped down when I’m well-fed. Maybe food is keeping me from really seeing and dealing with them?

One last thing that I’m hoping I can learn from this, is how to tolerate being hungry right before meals without letting it make me nuts. If I don’t eat on a regular basis at my self-appointed times, I become very hard to live with. And that sucks for everyone around me. If I can learn to handle being hungry for a full day, then a few hours will probably bother me a lot less.

In any case, I’ll break my fast shortly. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t plan to do this every week, but doing it a little bit and then letting myself recover from the experience will probably be good for me.

If it’s not, I’ll find out.

This is my new thing — introducing small doses of controlled stress, followed by plenty of recovery time, to strengthen my system. I’m pretty good at stressing myself out — now I’m focusing on having it be for a specific purpose — better tolerance of cold and hunger, less distress over little things that make me nuts. And I’m focusing on having it be limited and controlled — not overdoing it, and following it with plenty of rest and relaxation. I slept for two hours this afternoon, which was fantastic. And I’ve been drinking a lot of water, which is needed.

I have written before about needing to improve my stamina. I found out, last weekend, what bad shape I’m in, when I mowed my lawn and it really took it out of me. I guess I have gotten too sedentary. I feel as though I just don’t have the staying power I used to, and that really bothers me. I need to have more stamina, and that takes training.

It also takes recovery — lots of it. I have been good at over-training, but really bad with recovery. Now I see the value of recovery, and I can actually enjoy it, so that’s a step in the right direction. A new chapter, a new page. A new day.

So, now it’s time to make supper. Soon it will be time to eat. Yeah.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

5 thoughts on “Controlled stress now for gradual improvement later”

  1. VERY cool.

    Suggestion – replace the A.M. apple with a hard-boiled egg, or some other small amount of protein. Not only is that easier on your insulin metabolism (metabolizes more slowly – no spikes), protein delivers dopamine precursors — fruit (and carbs) for serotonin.

    D & S operate like hot and cold water – if you want “warm,” they need to be balanced.

    Sleep is a high serotonin state – you need Dopamine to counteract and get going when you wake up.

    At the OTHER end of the day, do the opposite. Once you get back to three squares, load the carbs, etc. to the end of the day and they will help you wind down so you can sleep.

    If you are a midnight snack kinda’ guy, do warm oatmeal with a bit of milk and you’ll probably sleep like a BABY. (Cold cereal works too – just avoid the sugary kid stuff in favor of practically any other kind) Adapt for your taste buds – tryptophan in dairy in combo with carbs.

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    (blogs: ADDandSoMuchMore, ADDerWorld & ethosconsultancynz – dot com)
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”


  2. Ah, that D&S info explains a lot – I have a friend who “cannot get going in the morning” until they have their soft boiled egg. I used to have an egg each morning. I may go back to doing that, rather than having my cereal. As I recall, I felt great, when I had an egg each day, and it didn’t affect my cholesterol at all.

    I can always have the apple for my mid-morning snack.

    Can’t do the warm milk, because the dairy is a problem for me. But stretching and putting some analgesic cream on my sore back helps me get to sleep, and stay that way.

    Thanks for the egg tip!


  3. My pleasure.

    btw – I keep HB eggs in my ‘fridge because I am w-a-y too worthless to cook in my AM. When I can’t even get it together to peel, a spoonful of p-nut butter works too (no crackers or bread – protein, not carbs on awakening)



  4. Good idea for you – tho’ I really hate HB eggs. Something about them creeps me out, unless they are in egg salad. PB sounds like a viable alternative, too. It’s my go-to snack for the p.m.


  5. Funny – I don’t eat them unless I can cut them in half (longwise – as with deviled eggs) – otherwise they creep me out too!

    btw – deviled eggs work too, if you can do the mayo. – and you can always have egg salad for breakfast — do a lettuce wrap vs. a sandwich.


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