Sometimes life can throw a bunch of things at you…all at one time, right? And knowing which balls to catch and which balls to let go can be a challenge in itself.
Now, I need to confess…I have been struggling lately and going through a season of a lot. Some days I feel overwhelmed and find it hard to wake up and just accomplish, well…anything. Do you ever feel this way?
My husband had back surgery. Which, in itself, is not a difficult time. I planned ahead, organized what needed to be done…and was ready. No biggie I thought.
2ish weeks after his surgery my mom had a stroke. We had caregivers all lined up to take care of mom when we found out that mom was exposed to Covid in the rehab. So, I became mom's caregiver and the 14 day quarantine set in. My husband, who could not do much of anything, was left home alone.
I have had choices to make every day. Choices about my mom. My husband. Myself. Choices about my thoughts and how I was going to approach and navigate this complete sense of overwhelm.
Rather than give into the despair and the ‘I wish it was different's' I looked at everything head on and chose the balls that I wanted to catch and which ones I wanted to let fall to the ground…and stay there. I wanted my husband to not feel abandoned, my mom to have the care that she needed, my sister to have support and I needed to take care of me at the same time.
While navigating all of these difficult and tough times I figured out a few things and thought you might need them too.
Look at what you can do. What you can control. Could I control the quarantine? No. But I could alert others to my husband's plight and make sure that he got the help that he needed. Focusing on all the things that you can't control is a wasted effort. It sets you up for frustration and anger.
Instead, make a list of the things that you can do. Put a plan in place. And ONLY focus on what is on that list. All the other things can wait.
I know that sounds funny but it is true. Joy comes from the heart…not from your circumstances. When I am my mom's caregiver, and I catch her foot in the door when she is in her wheelchair, and her shoe comes off, we laugh like loons. Because deep down it is really funny.
I could get mad and just frustrated because she is in a wheelchair. Or that I have NO idea how to get her in through door. Or that her shoe came off and it might take 5 minutes to put it back on. But I don't.
The joy that you feel in any given situation will spread like a wildfire. And soon everyone is joyful right along with you.
Focusing on the negatives is similar to focusing on what you can't control. Stay positive. Look at all the changes and find the ones that are good. Create situations where the outcome is positive.
Mom can't write (and we laugh like loons about that too). She can't play cards (her favorite thing to do). But, she can play Rummikub. And, she is getting pretty good at it.
Do I lament the writing and the card playing? NO. I could but I don't. Instead, we focus on what she can do and then try to make that even better.
Find ALL of the areas where you can find hope no matter how small. Hang onto them and then watch those small areas grow into something bigger.
Laughter can diffuse so much. It can diffuse anger. Fear. Anxiety. Laughter releases all of the tension that your mind and your body may feel.
Take ALL of the moments that might drag on your heart and turn them into laughable moments. Mom's shoe falling off. Or her sweater getting caught every time she goes to the bathroom, which could be very frustrating for both of us…so I put it over her head and we look in the mirror and laugh and laugh and laugh.
Sometimes it is called the ‘silver lining' in the situation. In your situation what are you grateful for? It does not matter if what you are going through is devastating…there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Figure it out and make those moments count.
Me? Mom is still the same thinking and communicating mom. Yes, she is slower and in a wheelchair..but those things really don't matter. God has given me extra time to be with her and I am learning how to make those moments count.
Sometimes the easiest thing to do when you are going through a tough time is to take it out on the ones closest to you. I call it ‘kicking the dog'. Those people are innocent bystanders in your overwhelm and tough times.
Be kind to them. Give them the attention that they need as well. Try not to be so inwardly focused that you can't give to others.
Forgiveness is hard. I know that for a fact. But unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The one who ultimately gets hurt is you. Unforgiveness will eat away at your heart a tiny bit at a time. Eventually your heart will become hard and not feel anything.
Let it go. Forgive. (FYI – forgiveness does not mean that you are back to being best friends. It means that you have let go what happened and are ready to move on).
Sometimes you are so focused on the road ahead you never take time to look back and see how far you have come. There is a reason that people take before and after pictures. So that they can remember.
Mom has come so far since she came home from rehab. Does she have a long way to go? Yes. Will the road ahead be long? Yes. But I can't focus on that…baby steps every day.
Maybe you will look back and realize that you are no longer SO angry. Or you are NO longer so frustrated. And that you HAVE come a long way. Knowing how far you have come can definitely help when getting through tough times.
After you get a chance to look back and see how far you have come – celebrate it. Acknowledge it. Embrace it. Take time and bathe in all of those small things before you go back to the road ahead.
Sometimes a hot bath is just what you need. Or a few hours alone. Go for a walk to calm your anxious heart and mind. Get enough sleep and eat well. Snacking and eating junk is NOT what the doctor ordered.
Mom and I had ‘Spa Day' today. I colored her hair, rinsed it off in the shower, cut her nails and my sister gave her a hair cut. Even though that was not in the category of taking care of me personally….it made me happy to see mom happy…and that took care of me.
…can be tough. I get that. The way I see it you have 2 choices: Rise above or Drop below. Me? I choose to rise above. I choose Joy…everyday.
Looking for more help – grab these free prayer cards. They might just help you get over the edge so you can rise above.
I found this great article for you too. It's Coping With a Difficult Situation Guide
Especially when times are tough.
And sometimes, when you are overwhelmed, stress sets in.
And when stress sets in it is sometimes difficult to be happy or joyful. So, please don’t let stress have the last word!
Go on and take a look at the ‘Top 5 Stress Reducers’ (Action Plan included). So that you can eliminate what causes you stress and get on the path of living a joyful life.
Joyful Living is ALL about not letting let the circumstances of YOUR life determine who you really are. You learn to choose YOU instead! Not sure how to do that? Let me help!
To begin, go ahead and read:
Tools to help you live a joyful and more fulfilled life