In the past two months, four people very close to me have been diagnosed with cancer. Things have been a little stressful.

I know that most people are going through a much more difficult circumstance than I am. I know that no matter what happens, everything will be OK. I know that life is full of ups and downs and most days I am positive and upbeat and doing great.

But every once in a while, I have a tough day.

The definition of overwhelm is to bury or drown beneath a huge mass. And isn’t that the way it feels? As if you literally can’t catch your breath and you have an elephant sitting on your chest, holding you down?

The lessons I’d like to share have helped me on those days. Those days when there is truly no time to take care of yourself, and you just want to make it out alive.

1. TALK TO SOMEONE, NOT TO EVERYONE

Everyone does not care about your problems. But someone does. It is important to get the elephant off your chest. Find one or two people you can talk to. It can be a friend, a trusted family member, or an acquaintance. I have one friend I talk to about this stuff and she doesn't even live in my state.

I tell her how I’m doing, but most importantly, I ask how she’s doing. She's a great storyteller. She tells me funny stories, dramatic stories, and sad stories. For just a little bit, I can get out of my own mind. I try ask everyone how they are doing, and then I really listen. Gain some perspective through listening to others. Like I said before, everyone is going through something.

2. LEARN TO MULTI-TASK FOR SELF-CARE

No matter what happens in our lives, the world keeps going around. Work has to be done, dinner has to be made, the house has to be cleaned. We still have to take care of ourselves. Usually, I make it a point to schedule time out to practice yoga, exercise or read a book.

However on those tough days, it seems like there is not a second to spare in the day. Those are the days I have learned to multi-task for my own sanity.

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks are perfect for self-care. I can listen to something while I’m making dinner, folding laundry or driving to work. Listen to something to escape the stress you feel. One day I listened to instructions on how to put down sod in my backyard.  Do not listen to motivational podcasts about how to change your life or what you could be doing differently. This leads me to my next point.

3. SHOW UP
There is so much emphasis on being happy and staying positive and productive and motivated. If you are feeling a negative emotion, just start reading some Pinterest quotes, or listening to an inspirational podcast to lift you up. For those occasions when we need to get our butts in gear and get going toward our goals, this is fine.

But on those days when just getting out of bed is tough, you don’t need inspiration.You need less shame around the idea that you are not doing enough. You need to understand that what's right now becomes inspiration later. You have to be give yourself permission to be where you are when you are there.

Some days it’s ok to just show up. Don’t make it a habit, but forgive yourself one of these days from time to time. Show up, be present in the moment, don’t over think things and let that be enough. Focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Things will improve. Just breathe and let each moment happen as it happens.

Life can be beautiful and magical and fantastic. But sometimes life is difficult.

During those dark days, I ask myself, what can I learn from this? I learned that I needed to seek support. I have to escape the thoughts that take over my mind. Most of all, I learned that sometimes just showing up is enough.

If you are going through something difficult in your life, I hope something here resonates with you. I hope you can find inspiration. I hope you find a spare second to breathe.

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