When you are in the midst of difficult times in your life, what do you do to make it through?
Do you try and find a way to hide out and escape your reality? I do sometimes.
Life is overwhelming at times for everyone. For those of us caring for loved ones with severe chronic illness, overwhelm can often be a daily occurrence. Circumstances may require that we “burn the candle at both ends,” for brief periods of time, but I have found that this is not sustainable over the long haul.
Some days, we slog through the mud and the muck, minute by minute; while other days we soar through the hours relishing every joyful moment. On those mucky days, when I want to tear my hair out in frustration, somehow I find an internal reservoir of strength to carry on.
My internal reservoir is filled little by little, as I find ways to care for myself. The list of activities that help me regroup and find balance in my life is varied. I keep it in the notes section of my cell phone, so it is available to update as I become aware of new things to add. I don’t do everything all of the time, but having this personal list reminds me of the things that can comfort me when I am stressed. Some are solitary pursuits while a few diversions involve other people.
In addition to having proper nutrition and getting enough sleep, several things on my particular stress-busting activity list include; reading a good book, watching movies, visiting with friends, playing games, knitting, exercise, meditating, taking a nap, sewing, getting a massage, yoga, my personal religious practice and writing in my journal.
A short respite from my responsibilities can replenish my soul. I am able to re-engage with energetic resolve. Sometimes even a few moments break can help release the built-up tension I’m feeling.
For example, this year the weeks leading up to the holidays seemed particularly stressful to me. My son, Nick, who struggles with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, wasn’t well and we had a few difficult hurtles to climb in our family. I found myself feeling cranky and out of sorts, not at all in the holiday spirit. My husband and I decided that the three of us would step away from our crazy schedule and stay home one evening. We told everyone we were busy. We were. We watched a Hallmark Movie, we listened to music in front of our Christmas tree, looking at the lights. We unplugged from all of the expectations and just enjoyed the moment. It was relaxing and refreshing. My reservoir was replenished.
Take time to create your own list. Think about your own talents and interests. The thing to watch out for is to avoid habitual responses to stressful situations. Think outside the box, be creative. It is important to have a variety of activities in your arsenal to fight the battle of overwhelm.