“Uh, excuse me…what’s stress reduction about? Does it help you relax?” he asks, while looking behind him to make sure nobody sees that he’s talking to a shrink.
“I’m going to discuss how to relax your mind without taking meds for anxiety and depression,” I say. “And what sleep has to do with stress, safety, and moods.”
“Okay, yeah, I’m really stressed out. I have a lot of anger problems. I’m tired, too. I play soccer on three different teams–seven days a week–I never get a break,” he goes on, still checking his back.
“Wow. That sounds like a brutal schedule. This workshop will teach you to relax by focusing on breathing deeply to calm your body and your mind, plus how to visualize and think positive thoughts when you’re anxious. Why don’t you stick around?” I ask.
“Okay–lemme get my mom. She’s stressed, too. Her birthday’s tomorrow–she’s turning 26. And my grandfather–he’s 41, maybe he wants to come in. Yeah, I have a lot of stress….”
Don’t we all baby doll, don’t we all.
Do the math. If “John” is 13…
Such is life in East Los Angeles, California. It’s odd how you don’t react to the generational teen parent thing when you’ve been around it so long.
Sadly, you’re in it for a minute, as you take in the youthful energy and the hope that things could be different for this kid, but then you go about your day.
Driving home, I reflect on the workshop and smile because the participants liked learning about belly breathing (as opposed to chest breathing) to ward off anxiety and panic. They were shocked to learn that Americans on average consume 120 pounds of sugar per year. The teens scoffed when I quoted research studies which recommend 9.25 hours of sleep per night.
I recall that John didn’t return with his mother or grandfather.
As I hang a right on Huntington Drive, an image of the recently killed Yale graduate adorably dressed in a yellow pea coat, pops in my head.
Marina Keegan, a promising journalist and playwright, was set to work at the New Yorker magazine this month. She was riding in her boyfriend’s car a few days after graduation, heading to her dad’s birthday party when her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel.
In broad daylight.
No sign of drugs, alcohol, or speeding.
He was tired.
He needed more sleep.
John needs more sleep, too. He’s tired, but not in the way the 22 year old Yale graduates were tired. John didn’t spend the previous week packing up his apartment in New Haven before embarking on a whirlwind of countless celebrations and endless possibilities. John’s fatigue results from the belief that soccer is his only hope.
Or maybe he’s tired of the pressure to continue the family bloodlines.
The world doesn’t always make sense.
But adequate rest does.
Don’t forget your precious sleep.
It could save your life.
And you thought last week’s post was a bitch of a topic…:(.
How much of a priority is sleep for you?
What’s your ideal number of hours per night?
Please leave feedback in the comments box below–you never know when the “lurkers” are listening.
I’d be grateful if you shared this sleep message on your favorite social media site. And if you feel so inclined, please send prayers/positive vibes to the Keegan family.