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Ask Shari: Aromatherapy, Newlywed Stress, and Finding Balance in Mourning

Shari Hardies, LCSW is back to answer all of your relationship and healthy living questions! Check out this week’s offering. We’ve touched on getting comfortable in new relationships, bringing in a new family member, and exercising and working back from surgeries.

Q1.) Hi Shari, I’ve been really stressed for the past few months, but I’ve definitely started feeling it more recently. I’m thinking that I should get more into aromatherapy, since I’ve heard so many great things about it in terms of stress relief. Do you have any suggestions for where I should go or what I should bring into the house to help? Thanks!

A1.).) Hi there Feeling Stressed, thanks for being willing and thoughtful about alternative measures to handle stress. Although I understand from some friends and family members that aromatherapy is a wonderful way to decrease stress and keep you feeling mentally and physically healthy, I don’t know much about it professionally.

I am not trained in aromatherapy and therefore can’t give any professional advice about it. What I can say is that aromatherapy is very popular and you shouldn’t have any issue finding research to help point you in the right direction. There are independent distributors for several different lines of essential oils and they are pretty widely accessible in all states.

What I can do is give you advice on stress relief and reduction. Great news, you have already completed the first step to reduced stress! Recognizing you are reaching your stress limit is the first step in reducing and managing stress. Regardless of your choice of stress management method, it’s important to take measures to recognize and reduce your stress.

I will always recommend writing, enjoyable workouts, stretching, and increased nutrition to battle stress. Of course having time with preferred people or alone is essential to reduce stress as well. I always recommend cutting corners and life hacks when stressed, minimize what you can until things let up and you feel ready to tackle the world again!

I would recommend doing a little research on aromatherapy and treating yourself to some lovely calming scents as well as practicing some other self-care. In general, be nice to yourself and stay in touch with what you need to feel good.

Q2.) Hi Shari, My newlywed husband and I just got back from our honeymoon and we’re having a bit of trouble adjusting to real life! Obviously we’re still doing well (it hasn’t been THAT long) but I don’t want bad habits to start forming where we start to resent each other. Am I just being paranoid or is there something I can do now to prevent that feeling of resentment in the future?

A2.) .) Hi Newly Wed, Congratulations on your recent marriage! No need to worry, returning from the Honeymoon is a classically rough period in a marriage hence the expression, “The honeymoon is over”. Believe it or not there is a grieving period that exists when a wedding and honeymoon end, grief usually touches on 5 stages and usually makes folks feel pretty uncertain, but there is no need to be.

The process of letting go of one relationship and starting a new one can be a little scary but it’s completely normal. Once the dust settles, you and the hubster will find your groove, here are a couple of tips to help you along the way.

1. Honor your experience by sharing it and documenting it. I highly recommend making time to talk and journal.
2. Communication is the key to making sure this, or any experience can be learned from.
3. Communicate your restlessness and concern. Share your fears and the rationale behind them.
4. Journal your feelings and your thoughts so that you can organize before discussing them with your partner.
5. Don’t get too caught up in any of your fears, a fear is essentially a wayward thought about something scary that can happen and isn’t indicative of anything real.
6. Keep the good times going, if there is some empty space after the honeymoon, see what you two can do to fill it together. Maybe a project or planning your next life adventure, maybe consciously and mindfully taking down time to transition into married life. Whatever you choose, do it together.

I hope this helps, always remember to enjoy your relationship, have fun and communicate!

Q3.) Good evening Shari, I recently lost my father (he was 86) so I’ve been trying to spend more time with my mother, who lives about 3 hours away. I’ve been traveling to her as much as possible and I love seeing her, but I’m starting to really suffer from a quality of life issue.

I feel bad as I want to be there for my mother every minute of every day, and she says she’s fine on her own or with my sister (who also visits). Is there any way that I can make this balance out? Thank you 🙂

A3.)Hi Needing Balance, thanks for reaching out for advice. First and foremost, I am so sorry about your loss. Please remember that grief is a really difficult process that looks different for all of us. While some of us manage our grief well within our daily lives, others go on auto pilot and barely exist, the truth is that there is no correct way to grieve. I’m not sure where you and your family members are with your grief but I hope that you are each getting the level of support you need. Most of the therapists I work with agree that the grief process really gets under way when people stop offering condolences and visits. When the expectation to move forward creeps in, our grief really begins.

With that said, I wonder if you are driving to see your mother so often for you, or for her. I wasn’t able to get a good sense of that from the question because there seemed to be a bit missing. I hear that the driving is really starting to negatively affect you, it also appears that your mom is saying she is fine and that she has support. It seems to me you have the green light to reduce your visits to your mother.

At this point I would really start to try to pull back on visiting a bit, for both of you. I expect that this may be hard, my advice is to try and trust both you and your mother to be strong enough to grieve in the way you need to. I would take the time to assure your mother and have her assure you that you will communicate your needs to one another.

I wonder if you and your sister could work together to get your mom plenty of company and also take some time for yourselves. I think you nailed it when you mentioned balance, keep working toward it, it may take some time but you can achieve it.

Shari Hardies, LCSW, is a social worker and contributor to Sono Bello Style, that has a true passion for improving the lives of others. She will be answering weekly user submitted questions on the topics of dating, relationships and live.