How to create stability during a life crisis
I’m finishing this email in the middle of week four of a significant disruption of my life. Over three weeks ago my husband was admitted to critical care at a local hospital. He was quite ill with a leg infection and initially the doctors feared flesh eating disease. He had sepsis. He spent 16 days in the hospital and although he is home we have a long road ahead of us. (It was like one very long episode of Grey's Anatomy without the hot doctors.) When everything goes to shit in your life - and it will - how will you cope? It is common for the primary caregiver to burn out and wear out. Your focus shifts to the person in crisis. Your needs get put aside. Health challengea are not just physical. They can impact your time, your finances, your emotional stability, your relationships and more. I’m at an age where I see my friends caring for ageing parents and ailing partners more frequently. The struggle is real. Being thrust into the role of primary caregiver isn’t easy for anyone. Whether you are the parents of a sick child or the partner of a person with health challenges. Your life revolves around hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, and other health care needs. You may need to take on additional responsibilities around the home that the other person can no longer attend to. And in the peak of the crisis there are the additional updates and frequent communication with family and friends. Because I have been focused on rhythms, routines and rituals as the foundation of a soul-centered life, I decided to test my theory. Do routines actually make a difference? In the first week of the crisis I wrote this question in my journal: What are the minimum routines I need to maintain in my life to get through this without losing my mind? Hey - it’s my journal I can write what I want! I do encourage you to think through what would be on your list. Even if you aren't in a crisis - what are the minimum routines or habits that will lay a foundation for a healthy life for you? I decided on these things: Sleep: Going to bed at the same time and getting a full night’s sleep. Sleep is difficult in a crisis and I normally go to bed at 10 pm. The first night I didn’t even get home from the hospital until after midnight. By the time I sent texts and emails and took care of stuff around the house it was 1:30 pm before I got to bed. And then I was up to be at the hospital at 8 am. There were a few other nights where it was difficult to calm my mind and sleep but I made it a priority to keep my regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Exercise: I usually walk every day for 5-6 km. I know it has physical and emotional benefits to get my blood flowing and get fresh air. Some days it meant slipping out of the hospital for a walk and some days I was able to do my normal route. I prioritized it as self-care and renewed my commitment to it. Eating healthy: This is the area I struggle with the most. I made healthy choices as much as possible. I packed food to take to the hospital most days. I confess I have used potato chips as a coping strategy far too frequently. I am a work in progress! Relationships: I kept my Wednesday date with my daughter and grandchildren and my weekly Happy Hour appointment. Time spent doing something other than being at the hospital nourished me. I tend to withdraw when I’m stressed. Not having huge social needs isn’t the same as having no social needs. We all need to be around supportive people. Journalling: Normally when I go through a difficult time I stop journalling. I don’t know why - it seems counter-intuitive. I just don’t have the creative energy to write. I committed to use my journal to document what was happening. I can’t say I did a lot of reflecting or deep thinking but I did just note what happened each day. I think later when I look back I will discover details I forgot about or did not process as they were happening. Making Lists: I don’t know about you but stress can make me forget things. I kept lists going of what I needed to bring to the hospital, what I needed to ask the medical team, what I needed to get at the grocery store, and of course, what routines and behaviours were helping me. It became a routine to review the lists with my husband. I left a notebook with my questions for the doctors in his hospital room just in case I wasn’t there when they came in. Bonus: I had the benefit of crossing things off each list as they were completed. Those little indications that I was actually getting stuff done helped! Routines support you in a crisis by helping you focus on what is most important to bring balance into a situation where you have no equilibrium. They give you a sense of control. They help you prioritize what is important for your self-care. They allow you to focus on the bigger picture of your physical and emotional well-being because you can’t take care of someone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself. All of these things were already part of my regular routines. Like most things they are easier to maintain in difficult times if they are already established in your life. What are the basic routines you need in your life to help you live from your soul and not from a place of reaction? Here's the truth - you'll never be able to have complete control over every aspect of your life. The best you can do in an uncertain world is live from your center - even when things seem out of control. You can have the peace of knowing that you have been intentional about your choices. And you'll have rhythms, rituals and routines to support you through life challenges. Let your soul be your guide. If you aren’t seeing the results you want in your life knowing your rhythms, establishing routines and creating sacred rituals will move you towards alignment in living a soul-centered life. I have two coaching spots open this month. Email me for details if you would like support in working through creating rhythms, routines and rituals so that you can live a soul-centered life.