Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Day of Rest

There was an article in yesterday's paper that told of a study that proved working women whose husbands helped with housework were healthier and happier. Well, duh . . . I wonder who pays for these things anyway.

As the child of two working parents and a woman who was working while married with a young child, I didn't need any study to tell me this. But it did offer scientific proof by measuring cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases blood sugar, suppresses the immune system, decreases inflammation (which I think is related to the immune system's reaction), decreases bone formation, and increases the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. (Which sounds to me like there isn't much left to NOT metabolize!) All of this is related to the famous "fight or flight" reaction that allows the human race to survive when danger threatens.

But the normal and necessary decrease in cortisol levels in the evening is impeded when the woman is running around doing dishes, bathing the kids and putting them to bed, and maybe throwing in a load of laundry or two while hubby sits in front of the TV clicking the remote. If he helps her with these tasks, her cortisol levels decrease faster. Of course, his increase compared to sitting with the clicker.

There was no mention of single women and cortisol levels, but I can hazard a guess . . . particularly for single women with a full time job who are trying to write a novel while keeping up with the maintenance of a house and yard. I think the only way to do this is to give up sleep entirely. Of course, that would lead to screamingly high cortisol levels and the other ill effects of sleep deprivation.

I can testify to the fact that stress begets more stress. The more I try to keep up with everything in my life, the crazier I seem to get. Couple the above responsibilities with activities such as parties and club meetings and volunteer work and going to church and there really aren't enough hours in the day. There are times when I just have to allow myself to NOT DO IT ALL. So this weekend I skipped the Friday night party, the Saturday RWA meeting, and Sunday church.

This doesn't mean I did nothing. Hardly. Yesterday I spent two hours pruning in the front yard, followed by doing two loads of laundry. When the Red Sox collapsed in the later innings of last night's game, I got a notebook and a thesaurus and looked for interesting nouns and adjectives to use in writing my current WIP. I know that I'll wash the kitchen floor today at a minimum and, hopefully, develop a character or two and some plot points.

But I'm still fantasizing of a two week vacation that does not involve traveling to visit relatives, catching up on housework, or writing 1667 words a day. I'd like to visit a seaside or mountain retreat where I could just put my feet up and read for a while. Go out for meals without worrying about calories or cost. Have someone else make the bed every day and clean the bathroom. And get my cortisol levels down to a point where I don't notice the stress I'm not feeling.
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