Q: Hi, Laura. Sometimes, it hurts so much I find myself almost incapable of doing even the smallest daily task. I feel somewhat imprisoned by the pain. Any ideas on how to escape? I could really use them now!
A: Amy, Amy, Amy. Boy, do I ever understand where you’re coming from. Those first few days, weeks (and even months, sometimes) can be brutal. Your emotions are raw. You feel stretched way too thin. You wonder if you’ll ever feel like you again.
The answer is a resounding – YES! You will feel like you again. It’s hard to realize that now. I’ve found that putting a few things into play can really help. I call them my “rituals.”
Tip #1 – Adopt an a.m. ritual.
This can be as easy as waking up, showering, making yourself glamorous for your day, taking a moment or two to reflect on what you’re grateful for (sounds woo-woo but works) and thinking about how you want your day to go. Do the same thing every day. Force yourself, if necessary. Find the little things that make you feel good first thing and do them. Maybe you want to take a walk. Maybe you get up a few minutes before your kids and have a cup of tea and some “you” time. Whatever it is, be good to yourself.
Tip #2 – Adopt a p.m. ritual.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. All these routines? I can barely keep my head on straight without thinking about a routine. I promise you that these really do work to bring your spirits up. The nighttime routine can be a bit more pampering than the morning ritual. Typically, I started with tidying up my house a bit. For some reason, entering a clean kitchen in the morning really started me off on a better track. If the family room was picked up too — wow! It felt good. Sometimes, I would take a bath or read or veg out in front of the computer. I would dutifully take my makeup off and brush my teeth (even on the nights when I just wanted to fade into bed with Dorito dust on my upper lip). Something about making an effort for YOU feels really good.
Tip #3 – Just breathe.
When we’re running around all day trying to avoid our feelings, sometimes it can make us actually feel worse. There would be times when I was really trying to hold back my tears. When you find an uncomfortable emotion welling up, just begin breathing long, slow breaths. Don’t try to run from it. Just let it come. I remember actually saying out loud at times, “Well, I guess I’m going to cry now.” Then the tears would flow. I’d usually end up laughing about it – as if I were scheduling in time for crying. It generally takes more energy to avoid your feelings than it does to just feel them.
Imagine having certain things you do each day for YOU and YOU alone. It feels good, doesn’t it? You are worth it, Amy. Try these tips out and see how they feel. I guarantee that you’ll notice a spot of happy shining through as you decide what to do for yourself. Good luck on your journey.