“How are you?” Such seemingly simple words that are often used in passing. Acceptable social responses range from fine, good, or great. Sometimes if someone wants to be slightly more real they will say “tired” followed by a quick laugh. Have you ever met someone that you felt you could be real enough with to give an answer beyond the standard “good”?
This happened one Sunday morning to my wife, Sarah. We were in the church service of all places and during the meet and greet time, the pastor asked her how she was doing. Little did he know how loaded the question was. As she replied, and he inquired more, she could no longer hold down the emotion that she was feeling and she started crying (not normal for her). She cried all the way through the service and all the way home, where she slept for the next two and half days. She was spent…there was no more strength to keep going.
As parents, whose children are impacted by special needs, our natural tendency is to focus on the needs of our child over our own. We neglect our health (physical, emotional and spiritual), our marriages and other relationships because we are so driven to care for our child(ren).
When flying, before you take off the flight attendant always walks through what to do in case of an emergency. Through that process, they explain the importance of first placing the oxygen masks over your own mouth and nose before taking care of your children. The airline has realized that if we don’t take care of ourselves, then we won’t be able take care of our children’s needs very long. They have also realized that our natural tendency, as parents, is to take care of our children first.
Christ set an example for us in how he cared for himself. When we look back at his time on earth, we can see him taking time to get away to pray, setting boundaries, seeking companionship from those who were close to him during difficult times and resting.
Below is a list of ways that you can take care of yourself. Pick two or three that you can realistically do, even if for just 5 minutes. You aren’t being selfish. You are doing what you need to take care of yourself and your family.
• Relax and rest
• Eat nutritiously (Avoid sugar)
• Exercise/Go for a walk
• Get enough sleep
• Talk about what happened (to God and others)
• Write about what happened (journaling, letters, e-mails)
• Laugh when you can
• Set small goals
• Keep some sort of routine
• Spend time with those who are supportive and helpful
• Cry if you can
• Reflect on the Word
• Sing or listen to music
• Know that the intensity of the pain will not continue
• Anticipate difficult times to come
• Ask for help and let others help you
What two or three above things can you do or are there other things you can do? How you implement them in your life may look different day to day depending on your situation but put that oxygen mask on. We want to hear from you! Please comment below what you plan to do or if there is something you are already doing that helps renew you. Let us know what is working for you.