TIPS FOR SURVIVING DIFFICULT TIMES
By Kim Grandal, ACC/EDU, ACM
This summer was a difficult one for me and my family. My father was diagnosed with cancer in early July and passed on August 7th. We had him at home with hospice and did all we could to make him comfortable. Yes, I brought out the salt lamps, played instrumental music, brought Dad outside, and did all the things we try to do for those who are in the end stages of their lives. I have no regrets and he passed peacefully in the house he had built.
Caring for someone who is ill or dying is surely not easy. In fact, it is immensely challenging.
We all go through a time in our lives when we are faced with challenges, grief, and loss. As healthcare professionals, quality of life specialists, inspirational leaders, and educators, we must also learn to deal with grief and difficult times, as well as take care of ourselves. With that being said, I would like to share some tips to help folks who may be going through a difficult time.
• Release anxiety, fear and stress - Be strong but also be true to yourself. We cannot always be strong. It’s ok to take a break sometimes and recharge. Find ways to help you to release.
• Get outside – Being outdoors is one of the most therapeutic and healing things you can do for your mind, body and spirit. Did you ever wonder why you feel so wonderful by a stream or on the beach? Science shows us that these natural places emit something called negative ions. These negative ions make us feel good! There are many more negative ions in the forest or at the beach, then there are in a city. So get outside! I cannot stress enough how important it is for us.
• Get grounded - Grounded is a term used in the spiritual community. It simply means to be connected to the Earth. Let’s refer back to the beach concept and the negative ions. Not only do we feel good because of the negative ions, but when we place our bare feet in the sand, we sink right into the Earth. If you are quiet and still, you may even feel the slight vibration below your feet. This is grounding. You can also sink your bare feet into some luscious green grass or sit under a tree. Yes, I’m a tree hugger but don’t knock it until you try it. We spend most of the time wearing rubber soled shoes and walking on concrete or black top, and we lose connection to the Earth. Take off those shoes and get grounded.
• Exercise and walking – I don’t even need to go into why exercise is so important. Science has pretty much told us all about the importance. It helps us maintain a healthy weight, gets the adrenaline going, releases stress, and all that good stuff.
• Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Again, you already know that if you want your car to run smoothly, you need to keep the tank full of quality gasoline. I know that we tend to want to snack on chips and sweets when we are feeling low or stressed. Of course we all need treats, but be sure to sneak in some fruits and veggies too! The unhealthy foods really do make us feel worse. I love fruit and veggie smoothies. It’s such an easy and delicious way to get in some of those healthy foods! And don’t forget to drink extra water. I notice that I feel a lot better when I am hydrated. You think more clearly and have more energy.
• Incorporate holistic approaches into your routine – There are so many holistic options available. Do your research. Please be sure that you are in touch with your medical practitioner if needed, for it’s important to discuss these things with a professional. Some possible alternatives include: essential oils, herbal remedies, yoga, reiki, crystal therapy, prayer, acupuncture, tai chi, meditation, and much more.
• Express yourself – You can’t keep it all bottled up. Be honest with yourself and others and express that you are going through a rough time. Learn healthy ways to communicate.
• Get plenty of rest – Our mind, body, and spirit heal while we sleep. Take naps if you can. Those 20 minutes naps really do help.
• Focus on the positive - I know it’s hard to always be positive and happy. Sometimes those pesky negative thoughts and feelings come on in. I’m not one to stick my head in the sand and pretend that everything is hunky dory. So, when those negative thoughts and feelings appear, acknowledge them and send them walking. Be realistic about your situation but at the same time, never give up hope. Each day is a new day and you truly don’t know what can happen. Remember to focus on the rainbow, not the storm.
• Ask for and be willing to accept help – It’s ok to ask for help. We all need help sometimes. And when help is offered to you, accept that help if it resonates with you. Be grateful for the help and give back when you can in whatever way you can.
• Learn to say no – Saying NO can be so hard for some people, but it’s really important. You don’t have to go to every party or host dinner, or whatever else. Do what feels right to you. Give and take is something that is ever flowing. Give when you can, but be willing to receive when you need it.
• Laugh – They say that laughter is the best medicine. There are all kinds of studies that show how laughter can lower stress, strengthen the immune system, improve breathing and more. Giggle away the blues.
• Spend time with animals – If you are an animal lover then you know exactly what I am talking about here. Animals, such as our pets, love us unconditionally. They bring us so much joy and comfort. There are articles that even talk about how therapeutic a cat’s purr is. How purrfect is that?
• Find your bliss – Do whatever makes you happy. Do you like music, art, crafting, sports, swimming, baking, jigsaw puzzles, dancing, etc.? We all know how important and therapeutic activities are. It’s what we do! Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
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*State at least 5 affirmations for self or others
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