This week I was a part of two groups where the topic of discussion was self-care. In one group I was the facilitator for a group of moms whose children are in a rehabilitation hospital, critically ill due to accidents or illnesses.
Ten years ago I was actually one of those moms whose daughter was miraculously climbing her way out of a life-threatening illness.
In the other group, I was a participant along with other parents as part of a weekend retreat for families of special needs children.
I can say now as this week comes to an end, I’ve had a very interesting and most meaningful week. For I was in the presence of parents who exude amazing grace and fortitude of character.
This is a perfect time and place to share some ideas, tips and thoughts that came out of these powerful meetings.
10 ways to give to yourself during the extraordinary stresses of daily life:
- Put your own oxygen mask on first. We’re no good to our children if we can’t breathe.
- Set aside even a few minutes a day to calm yourself. Go into another area away from your children and: Listen to a song. Meditate. Do deep breathing. Read a magazine article. Sit quietly and do nothing.
- Build in some ‘real’ time for yourself. Get up a half-hour earlier, before the rest of the household. The benefit of those 30 minutes for ‘your’ time far outweigh the extra half-hour of sleep. Exercise, write, read, eat a slow, calm breakfast. It’s your time.
- Set up some boundaries for yourself. Martyrs don’t win or get extra brownie points. At some designated point, make yourself off limit. Enlist others to take over. Let unfinished tasks carry over to the next day.
- Connect with others. Set aside time for you and your spouse, friend, supportive other. Create a ‘date’ night, an hour coffee break out, or a talk time in your home with some ambiance.
- Get out of the house, hospital or place where you are 24/7. Everyone needs a change of scenery. There’s a world outside of our own. Even a half-hour walk, visit to the library, Dunkin’ Donuts, can take us out of ourselves for that quick breather.
- Enlist help from others. Ask, ask, ask for what you need. People aren’t mind-readers. And be specific. More often than not, people are glad to provide some assistance.
- Give to another. Being of help to someone else can be therapeutic by taking us out of our own problems.
- Build in some playful moments. It can lighten the load for even a brief moment or serve as a distraction.
- Create a daily mental exercise of gratitude. What am I grateful for today? Write it, speak it to another, think it, pray it. It takes the mind away from all the negativity of the problems and puts it in a different place.
So much of how we function, cope and handle the difficulties and big challenges in our life is about our choices, attitudes, priorities, and ability to think outside the box. And our ability and awareness of being mindful. Not being worried and overwhelming ourselves with the worries of tomorrow or the agonizing past, but focusing on the here and now and doing the best we can in this moment.
I leave you now with this beautiful example of creating a fun, stress-free moment, as told by one mom:
When her children come home from school, they all jump into her big bed, special needs children included, and hang out there with mom for about a half-hour, talking, chilling, rolling around, before the evening regimen begins. So instead of coming in the door to orders and stressful after-school frenzy, this mom has created a fun way to connect. I love it.
What’s your way?
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