I know I am just supposed to be taking care of myself, but how do I stop worrying about everyone else?

So here we are, 24 days until my surgery and most of the things I am worrying about, trying to get done, and planning are related to others rather than to me. For instance, making sure that all of my duties at work are covered and my patients will have back-up therapists. Other examples include, thinking about my boyfriend and what he will need to take so that the trip does not disrupt his routine too much (i.e. coolers with food for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, his pillow, maybe a bottle of scotch). Concerns about the dogs and being sure the neighbors take good care of them while we are gone. Making sure my boyfriend has all of the passwords for my accounts, my credit card(s), numbers to call friends and family, that I complete my will, advanced directives, and power of attorney. Then there are the concerns about how everyone is doing with the additional stress. I watch my boyfriend and know that this is very hard on him emotionally. My daughter becomes tearful at times on the phone and tries to hide it in an attempt to not cause me stress. My dad, stepmother, and mom are all flying out and I find myself worrying about the expense this is creating for them. The list goes on and on.

So what does all of this worrying really do for me. Well, remembering that I AM a therapist, my impression is that worrying about others allows me to avoid worrying about the surgery. The more I can focus on people and things outside of myself, the less I am focusing on my own stuff. Is this okay? At this point, sort of. While it distracts me, it also keeps me from living each day fully and mindfully. Will it last through to the day of surgery, nope! I know myself well enough to know that I am likely to be nervous to the Nth degree by the time we leave for pre-op appts on the 11th. In preparation for that, I have scheduled a hair appt for the 8th (cut, color, etc) so that I look good even if I don’t feel that way. And I have appointments for chiropractic adjustment and a deep tissue massage on the 10th.

So how do I decrease the worry, increase the mindfulness, and still avoid worrying about the surgery…without adding yet another item to my ‘to do’ list? Well, I think the lists actually help. As I am able to jot down things that need to be done, I think about them less because I know they are on the list and that I will get to each item in its time. I also know that I cannot prevent others from feeling scared, concern, worry, or any of a number of other emotions. So it is important to honor their feelings by letting them experience whatever they choose to experience. I am not creating their emotions. I am not responsible for their response and to try to decrease those responses in some way would be inappropriate and unhealthy for all of us.

So, that’s very easy for me to say; however, putting it into practice is not as easy. For this week, I think I will focus on getting enough rest, having at least three good workouts including leg work each of those days (split up by muscle group) to make getting off the toilet, out of chairs, and out of bed easier after the surgery.  I will do my PT for the shoulder each day and include dumbbell curls and tricep kickbacks. And I will get 30 to 45 min of cardio. And, of course, abs every day. I also vow to get more sleep. Although it is nearly impossible to be in bed by 9pm in order to get 8 hours of sleep, I will work to be in bed by 9:30pm. As I write this, it occurs to me that maybe I should focus on “training” for my surgery over the next 3 weeks.

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