This past month I’ve worked with a lot of clients in struggle. We’re talking major life decisions that impact all facets of their lives. As a coach, we are taught to be objective and empathetic but not “in the fight with you”. Maybe this is a skill that comes with time, but I’ve clearly not developed it yet. I am with you in this struggle and I understand what it feels like to have your world turned upside down. I know exactly what you mean when you feel there is no way out. You can’t focus on self-care when you’re exhausted from analyzing every thought and decision.
Having gone through two major traumas and a third on its way, here is what I can share from my experience. It’s not perfect, and I’m sure I’ll have to refine it again, but it helped get me safely to the other side. Bruised, guarded, scared shitless, but I survived.
1. Call on your “person”. That one friend who has earned the right to hear your story, who you can trust will tell you exactly what you need to hear, good or bad. I will never forget the moment my “person” told me the words I needed to hear. Sitting in Jelly eating donut holes when I finally heard the words “you are a great mother, they will be ok”. Done! Floodgates opened, tears started flowing, more donut holes were ordered and I made the decision right there to finally leave my marriage. That person saved my life and I am forever bound to her.
2. Be gentle with yourself. This is not the time to start a 30-day challenge, go gluten free, give up alcohol or go back to school. This is the time to nourish you, physically and mentally. Slow walks, massage, Nicholas Sparks movie-a-thon, taking a bath, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, sleep and more sleep. Let the laundry go a little longer, the grass can be mowed another day and call a house cleaner as a gift to you.
Hold your heart softly and give yourself grace.
3. Exercise. Ugh, I know, who wants to exercise when they feel like a Mack truck has hit them. It’s important during this time to reframe the definition of exercise. What is normal for you now needs to be scaled down quite a bit. Take the distance of your run and cut it in half. Drop the intensity of your weight routine and add 10 min of stretching instead of hammering out another set. Move your walk to the woods and stroll, taking time to connect with nature and earth. Sit on the side of a mountain and breathe. Movement will make you feel better. It will increase blood flow, bringing oxygen to the brain to help with decision-making. Movement will help you sleep more soundly and it also improves your body image, increasing your confidence to take on your challenge.
4. Nourishment. Each person reacts differently under stress and our eating pattern can reflect this. Some have no appetite at all while others crave comfort food. Some over-eat and others over-drink. Whatever your pattern, be aware of it and do your best to nourish yourself with foods that are light, nutrient dense and as close to source as possible. Fresh, organic foods, grass-fed protein, nuts and seeds and lots and lots of water. By providing our body with healthy foods, we will feel better, think more clearly and have energy to survive the challenges you face.
To all those in struggle, you are not alone in this. We are all universally connected in love, pain, fear, indecision, happiness, joy and life. Breathe and trust that you will survive this. You may be a different version of yourself, but you will survive.
To your health and happiness!