When Change Takes Over: 5 Ways for Massive Self-Care
Have you ever been here?
You check off your milestones and feel pretty good about your life. You’ve met goals, you have good relationships, and you feel satisfied on so many levels. But then, life kicks you in a very tender place. You might lose your job, or your child is in trouble, or your parents need your help. Life can hand out real blows.
Take Jenny. She has a beautiful home, three teenage kids, loves her work and is an active member of her community. Even though she’s arrived at that hot-flash-time-of-life, it’s been manageable and weight gain is not an issue. Plus her friends are a real hoot when they’re out for girl’s night together.
Then: absolute horror. Her husband was killed in a freak automobile accident 3 months ago.
Devastated, her life partner is gone. She’s now the sole provider for those kids, who lost their father. People at work are solicitous but she can tell her lack of focus is getting on some nerves. She’s lucky to have a sister close by to help with household tasks, but at night, when the lights are out, she’s alone.
Life has just handed Jenny a growth spurt, ready or not. Part of growth is learning to put yourself first, and it begins with self-care.
Here are a five ways for massive self-care:
- Practice mindfulness – be mindful of what’s going on in your body. Stop and notice your feet, your hands, where you hold tension in your body. Notice, too, if your go-to soothers (TV, alcohol, sugar, etc.) are getting a little too soothing. When we are stressed, we are at risk for becoming dependent, so stay aware.
- Stay connected – even though you feel like crawling under a rock, at some point you need to re-engage with the world. Humans are wired for connection. Let your friends help by writing out a list of tasks and emailing them to everyone who ever said “let me know what I can do to help.” We can face anything as long as we don’t face it alone. Let them choose; let them help.
- Maintain exercise – if physical exercise wasn’t part of your life before, now is a good time to join a yoga class or health club. Join and go, I mean. This helps most when sleep is difficult. Sweating it out allows your body to self-regulate. Sleep heals.
- Contribute – do something that helps someone outside your normal circle. Volunteer for a cause you support. Find something to anticipate.
- Find solace in nature – Get outside as much as possible, preferably by water (if that’s impossible, a water fountain at the mall counts). Go for a hike, ride your bicycle, walk in your neighborhood. If the weather is inclement, even a frozen landscape has a beauty that soothes. Pets also provide a level of love and trust and can make a difference if you’re open to them.
Jenny is healing and every day is still a challenge. She knows nothing stays the same, neither the happiness nor the sadness and that this too shall pass.
If you’ve survived crisis, please share with us how you managed your self-care. We are all different, but sharing our stories can help with healing.