SPARTANBURG, SC (WJBF)– A lot of you know this vicious cycle: nagging thoughts and worries that keep you up at night… and lead to days filled with exhaustion and stress.
A new survey finds all of the changes and the stress of the world isn’t just stressing us out, it’s keeping us up at night. It’s a pattern that a new survey finds is common among Americans, especially after a global pandemic, political division, and turbulent events over the last few years.
The survey also found that nearly one in four respondents use sleep aids whether prescription or over-the-counter, but experts say medication is usually a last resort to treat insomnia as cognitive behavioral therapy and treating underlying health issues, like depression or anxiety are usually more effective. If you’ve been unable to improve your sleeve habits on your own, having a conversation with your primary care doctor is a good place to start.
And I wanna start right now with someone who has been that primary person. Not my primary care professional, but my primary person in my life, my mama.
The OG Jennie Montgomery, we call her Nana, is in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and those of you who have watched the show over the years have met her numerous times!
Professionally, she was a psychiatric social worker and as well as treating patients in mental health centers, she had a private practice. In the last part of her career, she was a Regional Director with the Department of Mental Health in South Carolina. And the timing was just funny, because some of the South Carolina counties that she was responsible for were in our viewing area.
So she would go to board meetings, and they’d be like, “Is that your daughter on Channel 6?” Way back in the late 90s, so it was funny that crossover that we had. So now everybody’s up to speed about Mama!
Jennie: “I really think this is an interesting subject for us to talk about, Mama, because I feel like you and I have handled stress differently. I remember you and Daddy used to talk about when I was just a little toddler, and I would push my baby carriage, and you all would say Daddy would get so tickled, ’cause I’d say, ‘I have so much to do, I have so much to do!’ Now, obviously as a child, I was mimicking what I’m sure what I heard you saying when you would go around through your day. But I think that… I know that I have handled stress differently. I know that you have worried about me with stress, but I have seen you face so many different situations in your life, from the illnesses with your parents, from working when my dad was very ill, and being a widow, but you manage stress. You’re not calling your doctor and saying, ‘I need this anxiety medication, and I need that.’ What is it that has made you manage your stress in such a healthy way?
Nana: “I think I wanted to experience as much of my own self and my feelings as I possibly could. And I felt like in order to do that, I had to learn to manage me, and it takes a long time. And in developing helpful things for my clients when I did stress seminars or had them in private practice, one of the things that helped me most and helped them was I could draw a little pie chart, a round pie chart, and divide it into four segments, and write, “P-I-E-S,” and that is the whole of a person, the physical, the intellectual, the emotional, and the spiritual. And if either of those segments of your life are out of balance, then they are all out of balance. We all handle the stress differently. We have to find ways to recognize what stresses us. Life is not without stress. You are born into stress, because you have to come through the birth canal, and that’s for each person. You wake up in the morning, whether it’s an alarm clock or your telephone beside you waking you up, or music, it’s a stress, you have to get up and start your day’s activities. But we have to recognize there are positive stresses and there’re negative stresses. And so you have to learn how to deal with that, and you have to set priorities. What is the most important? Do I want to get an A+ on everything I do, or is something only needing a C to take care of it for today?”
Jennie: “You know what it makes me think of, Mama, something that you would say to me a lot over the years and, in my years, not in the home, but in my adult years, the things you would say to me, you would often say to me that I worried about things I had no control over. I worried about things that I had no control over. And I see that in the way that you and I travel differently. I am a much more anxious traveler than you are, and we recently went to Europe together, and I couldn’t have been more happy than to realize I was beside you on the plane. And isn’t that funny? I’m 60 years old, and I was so happy that I was beside my mother. I didn’t want anybody else with me besides Mama, because I am a more anxious passenger. But you have a really good way of pointing out the things you can’t control, and don’t stress over what you can’t control.”
Nana: “Recognize what you can do and don’t fret about what you can’t do, because if you don’t go ahead and do the things you can, you’ll never get to the others. And you have to prioritize what’s the most important for you to do today and take it in order. The second thing is you have to take care of yourself, and that’s a primary importance. You burn the candle at both ends, and if you cut it in between, you’d burn it at four ends. That’s just your makeup. That’s the way you are. You come by it honestly, because you came from… You have genes that are that way from both sides of your family. But the other thing is you have to learn to take care of your body, and we don’t do that when we’re young. I think I have the advantage of it being in my profession, and I wanted to know as much as I could about how to do this and not have to rely on chemical substances to help me through life. Yes, medicine is very much needed, and I am so thankful for the doctors in my life, but there are some things that we should be accountable for and able to do for ourselves. If we take care of our bodies, if we eat properly, if we exercise properly, and by all means, find time out in your day for a 30 minute period of time to be by yourself, and everybody will say, ‘Well I can’t do that.’ Well, I know what it’s like. I used to have 18-hour days. Some nights I slept four hours because of sicknesses and different things with the family, but you have to find a place where you can close out the world and start with 10 minutes, and you can sit down and block out everything else and just concentrate on nothing, just to be there and just to let it flow. And deep breathing is one of the things that can help people when they’re trying to relax. Just do a lot of imagery, like you’re gonna pull fresh air up through your toes. Feel it, if you close your eyes and imagine this and sit down and feel that air slowly coming up through the muscles, through the thighs, through the body, the torso, into the neck, that’s all good, and then exhale and count the 10 on breathing in and exhaling out.”
Jennie: “Nobody ever believes it when I tell ’em, but you’re gonna be 90 on January 5th! Okay, Mama, I have broadcast it to all of our viewers here in the Augusta, Georgia area. But you know what, we recently had the opportunity to do a river cruise in Europe, and it was so funny, because when people would find out, people that were in our little groups when we were traveling to the different towns, nobody could believe you were 90 years old! You were playing games in the lounge. You were dancing with other people. Your joy for life and your amazing physical abilities that you have right now. Everybody wants to know, what is your fountain of youth?”
Nana: “Well, number one, you said the genes have a lot to do with it. You used another word that’s so important in life, and that is joy, three letters, joy. If you will find some little thing every day that you can say joy about, it will cause you to smile, and it will help. A positive attitude is so important. It dispels the depression that comes with people who look at life grimly, and you will notice the curvature of the mouth. It tells you a lot about how people feel about their day, whether it’s glass is half full or half empty. The other thing is, find the time to interact with other people in a helpful way and discuss things that make you happy. Look out your window and find the things in nature that you haven’t been accustomed to seeing. Take that time, five minutes can be oh, so important, because if you dispel your grievances at the moment and look for something that you haven’t seen, you’ll just have new discoveries, and one other thing, if you love music, listen to music. If you play the piano or an instrument, play the piano. If it’s only 10 minutes a day, do it. If you sing, sing something that makes you happy, and when you see a person, and you think, oh I don’t wanna be bothered. Just remember, you might make that person’s day if you look them in the eye and say, “Hello, have a good day.” It means a lot, and we all need people, that, we should recognize. Man was not created, nor woman, created to be alone. It’s the interaction that keeps us going. It gives us energy and makes life worthwhile.”
Jennie: “And isn’t it amazing that at the time that we have lived through, the couple of years in the pandemic, when there was so much social isolation, you and other people your age learned how valuable technology was, and you could keep up with family, you could keep up with Sunday school. What was it, a Mother’s Day or an Easter lunch or something where we had you on the laptop at the table with us?”
Nana: “It’s so important. It’s so easy to isolate, but that brings depression. Take a walk if it’s just across your yard into your neighbor’s yard and around about a day, a block or two, but get out. Keep light in your house. Keep your draperies open during the day. At night, close them, but darkness leads to depression. You don’t want that.”
Jennie: “So much good information, Mama. I wish we had the whole show. Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to celebrating Christmas with you again this year when you’ll be back down here in Augusta!”
Nana: “It’ll be a joy. With all the stress that comes, it will be a joy!”
Jennie: “That’s absolutely true. Have a good afternoon, love you!”
Nana: “Love you, bye-bye.”