Saturday 01st June 2024,
Bird On The Wire

Taking Care of Yourself


DSC03038In addition to the four tools I’ve laid out for you to use when combatting the fear that might arise when you’re facing a difficult situation, there are some other things you can do to take care of yourself during those times. I’ve divided them into two categories:

Things You Can Do For Yourself
Things Others Can Do For You


Things You Can Do For Yourself

Again, there are two categories:

Things You Can Do Physically

Things You Can Do Mentally


Things You Can Do Mentally

Before you can do anything else, you first must get your head in the right place, and you can accomplish this by being grateful for what is right about your life. “Count your blessings,” as my grandmother used to say. Sure, you are in a very difficult place right now. You’re feeling worried, scared, anxious. Even so, take a few minutes  to sit down and make a list of all the people and things you are grateful for in your life – your family, your job, your house, your doctor, nature, etc., etc. Then, read your list over, and let the gratefulness wash over you, because you have a lot to be thankful for.

Next, admire yourself. That’s right, give yourself credit for how you’re dealing with this painful time in your life. You’re handling it well, doing a good job of managing your fear. Tell yourself that you’ll get through this because you have the inner strength to triumph over whatever life throws at you.

Now, recall how you’ve gotten through other difficult times in your life. What did you do? What was your frame of mind? How did you succeed?

And, finally, force yourself to keep moving forward, even if you don’t feel like it. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and then repeating. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck.


Things You Can Do Physically


The most important thing you can do to help yourself to get through this painful time is to do as the British say – “Stay calm and carry on.” In other words, stick to your normal routine as much as possible.

The day after 9/11, I was driving through Berkeley, Calif. and saw on the marquee of a local movie house the following words: “Chop wood, carry water.” This advice from Zen Buddhism, simply means that, even in the face of the most horrible event imaginable, you should go about your usual chores – doing the laundry, washing dishes, going to the grocery store, etc. , because doing what is routine will make you feel more normal and help you cope with whatever you are facing.

There are also activities that you need to add to your regular routine. If you don’t exercise regularly, for instance, it’s very important that you start doing it now. We all know that exercise is good for us physically, but it can also be a tremendous help to us mentally. When you exercise, you get those good-feeling endorphins coursing through your veins, and you feel better, calmer, happier. And, by exercise I don’t mean buying $100 pair of pants and enrolling in a yoga class. This is great exercise, but you don’t have to do it. And you don’t have to run marathons, either. All you have to do is lace up those old tennies and walk out the door. It’s that simple! I just heard a doctor on the radio this morning saying that if you walk for 30 minutes, five days a week, that’s all the exercise you really need. So, get going!


Exercise is important, but equally important is your diet. When we’re stressed out or worried about what’s going on in our lives, we tend to eat the wrong things – skip meals then snack on potato chips. I have a friend who, one night, while going through a messy divorce, sat down in front of the TV and devoured an entire carton of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream. She was shocked when she dug in the spoon and found there was nothing left. So, eat consciously and surround yourself with the right foods. This is definitely not  the time to go on an exotic diet. But, it is the time to start eating more healthy foods – whole grains, fruits and vegetables, chicken, fish – you know the drill! Keep remembering that your goal is to feel better, and, in the end, the bag of Oreos will not make you feel better.


One of the most important things you can do for yourself at this time is to get educated. When I learned I had breast cancer, after the initial shock, I decided to find out everything I could about my disease, my diagnosis,and the possible courses of treatment. What I found is that knowledge can overcome fear. Gaining knowledge about your situation will give you a sense of power over it. Fear of the unknown is the worst fear.

When a friend of mine found out her husband wanted a divorce, she, of course, cried and screamed and blamed both herself and her husband. But, when she was finally able to calm down, she decided to get educated about divorce. Of course, she contacted an attorney, but she also learned online about how to best attack all the hurdles that she would be facing – child support, selling the house, changing her will, etc., etc. And, although the future looked daunting, the knowledge she gained gave her the belief that she could handle it. She decided not to put her head in the sand or to play the victim, but to face her fears head on, and it paid off. Today she is successfully managing her personal life as well as her career.

Exercising, eating right, and getting educated are the most important things you can do for yourself when facing a daunting life event, but there are other things you can do, as well. I’ll talk about those in the next post.

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