So, I just went through the most difficult time of my life. Really, I’m still journeying through it. The loss of my mom is a fresh, raw hurt that no one can actually heal. And yet, I’m still expected to get out of bed every day, make meals, take care of our son, do laundry and perform the whole “mom/wife/daughter/sister” bit. Oh yeah, and there’s that running-a-part-time-craft-business and assisting-my-husband-with-his-business role too.
What happens when I can’t?
Because to be honest with all of you, I can NOT do it ALL.
But I also, can’t just give up.
I’m no self-help guru. I kinda suck at taking care of myself most of the time. I’m not a positive thinker/motivational coach. That dark inner voice who tells me I’m worthless has a huge hold over me right now and I’m clawing at a lot of things to make it through each week.
I do not have answers.
All I have right now, is a list of things written down on my phone titled “Self-care”. And that’s what I want to share with you today, because probably no matter how good things are going for you, we can all use a little boost. My list is not all encompassing, it’s just what I’ve managed to do bit by bit over the past few months to make myself feel better, if even for a moment. Many of these I found particularly important when I was actually going through our family crisis (with mom in the hospital & then the hospice). You have to remember to be intentional about self-care during crisis time because you want to be fully present for your loved ones and the only way to maintain that, is to show yourself some love too. So here’s some of what kept my sanity, is still keeping my sanity:
- Hug from a friend. Such a simple act. Repeat as needed.
- Keep hydrated. Drink lots of water, treat yourself to a warm, cozy drink and if you find yourself in a hospital, indulge in eating cups of ice. Hours can pass quickly, and suddenly you realize you didn’t drink (or eat) anything.
- Don’t underestimate the impact of a nice warm (or cool) shower after a long day. Scrub off a layer of worries (and that hospital smell).
- Avoid watching shows. I typically enjoy some mindless Netflix watching in the evenings, but when I was in full crisis mode, nothing appealed to me to watch. Nothing felt real enough or important enough to spend my little down time on. (I’m back to watching my Netflix addictions nowadays though).
- Read, read, read. Keep something to read with you all the times. A bible, a novel, quick motivational quotes, that magazine you keep wanting to read. I read a lot of bible passages & reflections with my mom during the day and then read part of a good novel before bed. Reading helped to calm my mind, settle those runaway thoughts. Reading provides distraction, without the over-stimulation you can experience when watching something on a screen.
- I got into the habit of putting a tiny dab of lavender essential oil on my nose before bed. So calming and really does help me get to sleep. (Pregnant gals, use caution.)
- I use an amazing essential oil spray on my pillow & sheets before bed each night, Rooted Peace Room Spray (buy it from Cedar & Sparrow). I can’t go a single night without a spritz of this stuff (Seriously. I even take it with me if we stay at a hotel). Take some deep breathes and let the lavender scent melt your day away.
- Don’t stay up late, get rest where & when you can (even if that means taking naps at the hospital beside your loved one.
- Light a candle. Whatever your favourite scent or whatever appeals to you. I keep one in the kitchen and some days, the only self care I get, comes when I light that candle while I do the dishes in the evening. Sometimes that’s enough.
- Make your bed, open up the blinds/curtains to your bedroom & around the house. Until April, we never made our bed. I would just make it up before I got into it at night. For whatever reason, I started the habit of making our bed each morning while my mom was in the hospital. It was such a nice thing to come home to after those long days.
- Wear clothes that make you feel good. Dress a little fancier than needed. I was beyond exhausted while helping care for my mom, but I refused to show up to the hospice in my PJs. Even if it’s just a matter of throwing on a pretty lace scarf or wearing your favourite jewelry, take that extra minute in the morning to put on something that’s special to you. You’re not dressing up to impress anyone. This is simply about not putting off the good stuff or your fave outfit for some other day. Wear it today.
- Indulge in mini-treats. Buy a new nail polish or lip gloss and use them. Pick up some new craft supplies and start a simple project. Buy some gummy candies and keep them in your purse to nibble on through the day. Buy fresh flowers (even if it’s just a stem or two). Don’t ignore those small treats that bring you quick satisfaction. One little boost in your mood, will get you to the next moment & then the next.
- Talk to you husband/partner daily (we typical do a weekly review of things, but during hard times, try to do this daily to decompress & see where you can help each other)
- Delegate, ask for help, feel free to say no. More than that, ACCEPT HELP. I can be down right awful at this, but I learned a huge lesson this past spring. We are very much loved and supported, and I need to let others do some things for us. We gladly accepted meals from friends & our church during crisis time. We recently hired a cleaning lady (you have no idea how hard it was to convince myself that was OK to do), and we go out for dinner a bit more these days.
Still seeking something else?
Maybe self-care isn’t all you really need. Maybe you need someone to just sit and listen to you. Maybe you need someone you can cry to at the end of the day. You could try going to a counselor (they’re certainly not as scary as we make them out to be in our heads), or you could just try praying. Sometimes the best self-care is when we let go of our sense of control on life and hand it all over to God.