My world turned upside down recently when a few things piled up – most importantly, my daughter became really unwell and required urgent hospital care. And then I had to juggle normal life, parenting two other kids and work with hospital visits and ensuring everything was ticking over. It was exhausting, and taxing on every bit of me: mind, body and soul.
But if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s getting shit done when times are tough, so I thought I’d share with you my 5 top tips for sucking it up and getting on with it.
5 ways to keep yourself afloat when shit hits the fan
1. Say yes to help.
This is the most obvious and most important, but weirdly, something a lot of people struggle to do. You know how great it feels to help someone out when they’re going through some shit? That’s how others will feel when you allow them to help you. Say yes to babysitting, meal drop offs, taking over that project at work…whatever it will that will help you out. And if people give you that vague, “Is there anything I can do to help?” line, say, “Yes, actually, I really need someone to do a couple of loads of washing for me. Can you please pick up a basket from me this afternoon?” It takes such a load (geddit?) off, and everyone feels good. Just remember to return the favour when you’re on top of things and your mates are struggling.
If you can manage it at all, move your body during this tough time; it will help you to cope with everything life is throwing at you. And we all know getting a decent night’s sleep is key to being able to cope with everything. A small slug of whiskey isn’t the worst thing in the world if you need help drifting off, but now is not the time to be knocking off two bottles of wine. Keep it tidy so you don’t feel like crap the next day.
3. Stock the fridge with meals and fresh produce when you can (or ask someone else to do it).
I had an afternoon free early on after I’d been sleeping in a chair in the hospital, so I went home and showered, then made a few meals I could store in the freezer. I knew I wouldn’t have the time or mental space to be planning meals and I was so grateful to my past self for the next two weeks. And having fresh fruit to snack on makes you feel great too, and avoid the biscuit tin.
4. Talk things out and share how you’re feeling.
What I really needed when my daughter was first ill was a massive hug, but we couldn’t have visitors yet, and I didn’t get to see close family for a couple of days. I told my family that was what I needed, and so when my big brother and his lovely wife came to visit and they hugged the shit out of me. AND they cooked me dinner and gave me wine. It was awesome.
5. Take time out for you.
You can’t be all things to all people for a sustained period of time. It’s just physically impossible – you’ll burn out. Take some time out and go for a run, take a nap, take a walk in the sunshine, have a quiet cup of tea under a tree…whatever you need to do to reconnect with you. Because that’s the only way you’re going to be any use to anybody else.
My daughter is home now, which is wonderful, and well on the road to recovery. But I’m still ensuring I’m doing all of the above while we settle back into our normal life. I haven’t once felt at the end of my tether, which I put down to these 5 tips.