I’ve spoken off and on about my husband not being well, however, lately his health has deteriorated to a point where going to work is becoming truly difficult and next to impossible. He suffers from TMJ and has been in acute pain for many, many months now. Surgery was done to improve the jaw alignment but there hasn’t been a let up in the pain. The doctors have now advised him to exercise the jaw and referred pain points, such as his back and neck regularly. Since his job is mainly desk-bound and involving long hours, doing the exercises while at work was not working out. As a result, he’ll now be taking a break from work so as to improve his health and hopefully, manage the pain better.
This tryst with TMJ however meant that I was having to juggle looking after him, making special meals, taking care of my toddler who’s also had plenty of cold and cough spells, managing the home while writing and working out a plan to increase our income, now that his wouldn’t be coming in. So, yeah, I’ve had my hands and head full. It also meant that I had to stop and re-evaluate my self-care routine. After all, if I took care of myself, I’d be able to take care of everyone else as well.
With limited time and resources, here is how I’ve been caring for myself so not only am I happy and healthy but also better able to look after the needs of my loved ones.
One of the most important things that helped me through this trying time is the support I’ve gotten from family and friends. However, that support came when I sought it. When I let people know that I need to talk and discuss what was happening, I discovered that not only were they willing to listen and be there but it also helped me to share my feelings and fears. Seeking support and talking to friends and family doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re strong enough to seek help and it gives one great inner peace. Even a short five-minute conversation or a warm hug can really help.
Doing Something I Love
Whether it was reading, connecting with other moms on social networks or simply, enjoying a cup of tea early in the morning, I made sure I did at least one thing that I truly enjoyed and loved every day. It doesn’t take time and it makes one feel peaceful and energized.
Eat Healthy to Stay Happy
A healthy body, a happy mind. Since I’d been working on eating healthy and losing weight, I didn’t let stressful times translate into bingeing on junk. Keeping a watch on eating healthy, staying hydrated and getting some exercise has helped me stay fit and able to look after home, husband and child. Moreover, I firmly believe food influences mood and while the tub of ice-cream may feel comforting now, it generally translates into regret and guilt later on, at least for me.
Look Good to Feel Good
At the risk of sounding superficial, I have to say that making an effort to look good, dress smartly and take care of my appearance really helped me feel in control and capable of taking care of everything else. There were days when I just didn’t feel like dressing up (even in jeans and tee) and I noticed that on those days, my mood was also low and depressing. Ten minutes in the morning is all you need to shower, put on a dab of lip gloss, a spray of perfume and wear something flattering and smart. Makes a big difference, trust me!
Smile, Laugh, Play
Seeing the joy in simple situations, watching sitcoms or reading books that made me laugh and playing with my toddler really helped me tide over some of our bluest moments. Simple things like reading Erma Bombeck(one of my favorites) and using positive affirmations a la Louise Hay(another favorite) helped to lift my spirits immensely. Again, when I was happy, I noticed the entire household felt happier!
Everyday, I take out time to pause and “count my blessings”. Sure, we may have to survive on way less than always, we have illness to battle and mountains to climb, but we also have a lot to be grateful for. The closeness of a family, the use of our senses and limbs, the joy of a child, the comfort of a work-from-home career and so much more. Being grateful helped me find the silver lining in a dark cloud… everyday.
Simple things like these have really helped me to take care of my self while providing love, support, encouragement and strength to an unwell spouse. Accepting this as a phase of life that will surely pass and in the meanwhile, doing the best I can has helped to create a calm and happy home in the midst of illness and pain.
How do you take care of yourself when a loved one is ill? What are your tips for tiding over illness and pain with strength and serenity? Do share!
Photo Credit: D Sharon Pruitt