Do you just wake up some days wishing that your life was easier? Do you just wish you were back in your dream life and not over here in this life you have? I don’t know about you, but this is the time of year I wish I’d been dealt another hand of cards. It seems that the holiday season makes me morose. Since I’ve talked with many of you who also have to work to be positive and hopeful this time of year, I thought I’d give you some tried and true strategies for fighting that “bah humbug” feeling.
1. Count your blessings – one-by-one. When I’m hitting bottom, I sit down with a sheet of paper and look at the larger picture. I slowly begin to write all of my blessings out on that sheet of paper. I am thankful for: living in America, for freedom to make choices, for a roof over my head, for the food I eat each day…… and on and on it goes. I stop when I have the sheet full. I put this sheet up on the bathroom mirror to remind me that life isn’t so bad.
2. Call your girlfriends (or guy friends, if you’re a guy) who have kids with disabilities. There is no better medicine than a friend! I can take an hour of two over coffee or something stronger and say anything I feel and listen to anything they feel and the world looks like a much brighter place at the end of that time. This time is usually filled with laughter and laughter is one of the best forms of therapy for the blues.
3. Do something for someone else. When I am doing something for someone else, I’m thinking about them and not myself. I always end up feeling better when I help someone else. The world is full of needs. Find just one need and fill it.
4. Remember the importance of self-care. Often we get down because we push and push and fight and fight and survive and survive until we can hardly stand any longer. To be a good warrior, we must remember that we will not be able to fight on if we don’t pause to take care of ourselves. Every so often, I get up in the morning, look into the mirror and say, “OK, today I don’t have what it takes.” When this happens, I give myself a break and get a massage! A good massage is all about you. Do something occasionally that is all about you. By the way, a massage gift certificate is the perfect gift for the mother of a child with a disability.
5. Just admit you are powerless to change everything and write it off by saying, “Oh, well.” I’ll never forget the day I was providing respite to my girlfriend’s son with significant disabilities who could not be left alone for a moment when the darn dog darted out the front door. I called my friend in a panic screaming, “The dog got out. I can’t leave Bubba to go hunt for the dog.” I am freaking out; in a total panic. Her calm reply was, “Oh, well.” The shear wisdom of that little phrase has gotten me through so much junk in my life. Sometimes there IS nothing that can be done at that moment but to pause and say, “Oh, well.” By the way, the dog came back after a while and I did what was important, I took care of Bubba.
6. And last, tell yourself that it could always be worse—because take it from me—IT CAN BE! Right next to that page of blessings, I take another sheet of paper and write down all the ways life could have been so much worse. I scribble down on that piece of paper all the ways my life could be so much worse. Everybody’s ‘life-could-be-so-much worse” list is very different and personal. I’ll let you write that one yourselves, but at the top of my list is always: I could have never had either of my boys. Life would have definitely been much worse. They are such a blessing to me.
What are your strategies for staying positive and hopeful in this season?