Sunday, July 10, 2016

Diffusing Stress -- Another Name for Escaping Reality? Part Two

In Part One, I talked about how hard my husband works physically. He experiences a kind of stress that comes with using your body too much; fatigue to the max! In order to cope with such a lifestyle, he relies on alcohol each evening; if he weren't allowed to 'drink to unwind,' he would probably blow a gasket and refuse to work ever again! That being said, in the past his drink of choice was beer. He'd buy a large can of it at a vending machine in our neighborhood, and drink it with some "tsumami" (a snack suitable to eat with alcohol) that he'd prepare himself, depending on what he felt like eating that day.

The result of such a lifestyle was a lot of tummy fat accumulating around his midriff, and an elevated uric acid level in his blood checkup results. He was already struggling with high blood pressure at one point, and began paying attention to his diet in earnest. He ate thinly-sliced raw onion faithfully each day, along with "katsuo tataki" (raw bonita fish briefly charcoal grilled and immediately soaked in ice water, then sliced), both noted to reduce the fat globules within the blood. And he cut out beer, drinking "shochu" instead, a clear liquor made from potatoes or other vegetables or grains. Within six  months he had cleaned out all fat in his blood and lowered his blood pressure and cholesterol levels considerably. He continues to stick to "shochu" as his main alcohol each evening, occasionally drinking a bottle of wine during dinner over a few days.

Now he comes home from a hard day at work, and immediately sets up his evening drink and snacks to unwind. I give him an hour to 90 mins, before expecting we begin eating supper together.

In recent months he has developed a new coping mechanism to diffuse stress--going to the mountains by car for a day at an "onsen" (hot spring). He drives out early in the morning, arrives, soaks in the bath, has a hearty lunch with alcohol, takes a nap for three hours or so, takes another soak in the hot spring before beginning the drive home. On the way he always finds some restaurant that serves something he wants to eat that evening, enjoys his meal, then slowly drives home. If he gets sleepy mid-way, he simply pulls over and takes another nap. He usually arrives home by 12:30 or 1 am. He's refreshed from his day away from thinking about work and all the chores needing to be done at home, and psychologically 'recharged' to face more gradual fatigue build up yet again.

I, on the other hand, do not feel the need to leave my home in order to diffuse stress. I have my fair share of stress, partly physical (due to being obese and my joints gradually protesting in pain at having to support my weight), but more of a mental and emotional nature, from the difficulty of living in a foreign land and having to adapt to a culture the complete opposite of America's! There is also an undeniable stress that comes with marrying a person from another country and culture; ah, the challenges of international marriage!! (Okay, don't get me started!!)

For me, the very best way to diffuse stress is to completely escape my world altogether. I do this by watching Korean dramas and TV shows. We don't own TVs in our home, so I rely on my computer and a number of free online sites that sub K-dramas in English for the many foreign fans of K-dramaland. The (world-wide) foreign fans like to write their opinions online about what happens in each episode, and have discussions together, which is fun to read and join in on. I am totally hooked on this method of escaping the stress that comes with my life; I tend to be a pretty responsible person regarding the workplace and my volunteer duties in the community and at church. But I can completely forget EVERYthing during a Korean drama episode (which usually runs a little over an hour straight with the commercials cut out). It is as refreshing to me as my hubby's "shochu" after work. It renews me like his soaks in a hot spring! So I have to be careful to factor in what MUST be done before heading out to a class, etc, before turning on the computer. Otherwise I could easily get myself in a pickle, time-wise!

Yes, I sometimes wonder if this stress-diffusing method is healthy or not. After all, I feel like I am escaping reality for hours at a time, and is this really healthy, spiritually?? I'm still thinking it all through. Amazingly enough, my pastor's sermons lately seem to be directed to me personally, as they touch on how to live a God-directed lifestyle. As I chew it over, I'll probably write about this topic again in the future; stay tuned.