I got an early morning call from a family friend – my mom was not doing well. While usually a trip to see her requires at least a week of preparation, I was on the road for the two-day drive by that afternoon.
We all have those times when we are called on to do more than we think we can do – a loved one needs more than we think we have to give. But somehow we pull it out of ourselves. We’re stretched as thin as we can go, and then a little bit more. Sometimes the time-frame is a few hours, sometimes those hours can turn into days or weeks. It’s important to keep your “toolkit” with you. You won’t be able to use all of the tools, and there may be times when you can’t use any of them, but if you’re going to be of any use at all, you have to take care of yourself. You can’t pour water for someone from an empty pitcher.
Even if you skip supplements most of the time, now is the time to be religious about taking them. It takes a few seconds to swallow your favorite multi-vitamin. Get a B complex and take that, too – stress depletes B vitamins. Get a good calcium-magnesium supplement and take that to help you relax and sleep. Order the salad instead of the milkshake at the fast-food drive-thru. Grab a banana or an orange instead of a candy bar. Believe me, I completely understand the therapeutic value of chocolate! Make it good chocolate and not the crappy stuff that gets advertised on TV, and don’t make it breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Do your best to limit sugar – it depletes your body of minerals you desperately need right now.
Possibly the one thing you need the most and can get the least. Get what you can. Sure, maybe there will be a few hours when you won’t be available – so how much good can you do if you’re so foggy with fatigue you can’t think or see straight? And you never know if there will be times when you are called upon to be awake and functioning for unreasonable amounts of time, so don’t deplete yourself if you have the opportunity to sleep.
I never recommend those over-the-counter energy drinks. I believe they are harmful, and will end up damaging your system more than helping. If you need a boost, find a Young Living distributor and order some NingXia Nitro. It has about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, but the added nutrients in it help you stay on an even keel, and I’ve heard from people who normally can’t take caffeine and they say they can use NingXia Nitro without a problem. If you don’t know a Young Living distributor, contact me if you would like to order some. Or better yet, go here to get a membership and pay wholesale instead of retail: Sign Up Here. This link will sign you up in my downline.
So what about those no-sleep-possible times I mentioned? If you have even a few minutes where you can sit and close your eyes, do it! Here is where a regular meditation practice can be a big help. Center yourself, having the intention of resting your body and mind as deeply as possible in as short a time as possible. Breathe slowly and deeply, focusing on and extending the out-breath (this activates the para-sympathetic nervous system, which is calming). Let go of the worries – they’ll return as soon as you turn your mind to them again, they’re not going anywhere, and you’ll be better able to address them if you’ve had a little break.
Some techniques I can recommend:
Centering Prayer or Mindfulness: Even making the no-effort effort to do these practices gives your mind and body an access to healing. Don’t make impossible demands of yourself – of course you’ll drift back to thoughts and worries. Just notice that you have, and let them go again. Make it a practice of letting go of thoughts and worries without blame, without stress. If you’ve practiced these modalities before you’ll have the ability to do this more easily, so don’t wait until you’re in crisis mode to start – start now.
HeartMath: Beg, buy, or borrow a copy of The HeartMath Solution, and read it cover-to-cover and practice all the exercises. These are great tools for keeping yourself centered, calm, and effective when the world around you is going crazy. See http://www.heartmath.org/resources for more information, but in my opinion the book is the best guide.
Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique): This is something I’m just learning about. The process is very simple, and surprisingly effective. You use your fingertips to gently tap on points on your head and body – these points are the endpoints of energy pathways (called “meridians” ) in your body. Tapping these points sends calming signals to your amygdala, the “fight or flight” part of your brain that senses possible danger and tries to keep you safe. By calming the amygdala, you can reduce the amount of stress hormones that get released into your body, and that helps you stay more relaxed and effective. See http://www.thetappingsolution.com for instructions and information on research done on this technique. There are also numerous videos on YouTube – I especially like Brad Yates’ videos.
The Self-Mind Clearing technique: This is a Healing Touch technique anyone can learn. Here is a video made by the person who developed the technique: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXaudcDbOXE. This page has a link to a diagram of the hand positions: mandalahealingtouch.com/self-care-techniques/self-mind-clearing.
Friends and Family
You may be the point person; you may be the only one available to deal with whatever is going on (or you may not be – think about it!). But friends and family can hold your hand through it all, even if it’s just long-distance over the phone or by email. Call them. Tell them your concerns. Let them brainstorm solutions with you. If you’re fortunate enough to have someone close by, let them bring you meals (good stuff, please!). Let them take a shift or two with your loved one and you go back home or to your hotel room and get some sleep.
If you have your pets available, let them help you relax and heal. Most animals will try to comfort you when they sense you’re upset. Take 5 minutes to pet your cat or dog.
The most important self-care thing of all. Call on God. Read your Bible. It helps to have a Bible app on your phone. (I like Olive Tree, because it downloads to my devices and I don’t have to have an internet connection to read the Bible.) Pray unceasingly – yell at Him, cry to Him, until you know He’s there. Read some of David’s psalms for inspiration.
Self-Care is something that needs to be a habit. We’re called on daily to serve others, anyway, and we want to serve them the best we can. But when you move into crisis mode it helps to not be depleted to start out, and having these tools as already-developed habits makes it much easier to use them when you really need them.
Mom and I have a long road ahead of us. It’s still crisis-time here. But I have a wonderful, supportive husband. I have good friends. I have my cat – my traveling companion – with me. I finally got some sleep. And I’m praying-praying-praying all the time. I would welcome your prayers, too, for healing and for comfort for Mom and myself.
Blessings to all.