Can you think back on a time in your life when you weren’t sure you would make it one more day? It could have been because of pain, hopelessness, fear, hurt, financial troubles, relational troubles, loss, betrayal or any other situation. Maybe today you are feeling that way. Feeling that you don’t think you can make it one more day.
I have been there a couple of times myself. While I had no intention of harming myself, I just couldn’t see how I could live or move forward. The pain had been too much. I shared some of my story in regards to mental health issues in my family in a previous post. Those struggles are (and have been) some of the most difficult days of my life.
While I do have a spouse and maybe one other person that I talk to, no one really knows the depths of my pain, except for me and God. I do talk to Him. I talk to Him in prayer but also as if He were sitting right next to me. I’d vent to Him about how unfair all of this is, how I don’t think I can stand it anymore, how I wish He would do something, like right NOW.
After I am done venting and crying, I close my eyes and can almost feel Him wrapping His arms around me, letting me know that no matter what happens, He is right there with me to comfort me and hold me up. Knowing that alone, gives me peace.
Just Enough Light
I am at a point in my life where I am taking it one step at a time and God is giving me just enough light for the step I’m on. I am choosing to trust Him through all of my pain. What about you? Do you have a relationship with God? One where you are comfortable talking, crying, even yelling at Him? Don’t worry, He can take it.
Even if we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we can trust that He is there to help us get through it. He never promised us a problem-free life. But He did promise He would never leave or foresake us.He would be there beside us to sustain us and help us through.
What are you going through today? I encourage you to seek Him and his guidance. Read His word. Pray. Even if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or at the top of the staircase, just look for the light on the next step. And then the next. And then the next. Take it one step at a time.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
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The following are some of the self-care practices I do daily. I hope to inspire and encourage you to create a self-care plan for yourself if you haven’t already. Yours will likely be very different than mine. You are unique and your self-care ideas must be pertinent to you.
As you look at my daily self-care plan I hope you will be inspired to find things you can do each day for yourself. You are worth every bit of effort.
As I touched on in a previous post about anxiety, it is important that we think about ourselves as a whole. Body, Mind, and Spirit. And we need to take care of each part of ourselves. I challenge you to start a list for each category. Write down things that make you feel good or relaxed in each area. Find ways to implement them daily. Even a few minutes at a time.
Let’s dig into my daily routine. I didn’t start out thinking this all through like I recommended you do, I just sort of fell into it. Here is a breakdown of my daily self-care plan.
Before showering, while still lying in bed, I reach for my phone and earbuds and check my email for my daily Meditation from Encountering Peace. It is as biblical/scriptural based guided meditation. (They also have an iTunes podcast.)
Next, I use essential oils. My favorite brand is DoTerra. If you don’t know much about the oils, I highly suggest doing some research on them ( I may do a post at a later date). I usually use the Balance Blend in the morning to help me stay calm and peaceful.
I spend a few minutes doing my deep breathing practice via my Pacifica App. I love this app because it does so much. (They have a premium option which I am considering, but I currently use the free version which is still pretty good!) They have breathing and mediation practices of all kinds as well as mood check-ins and so much more.
Make my breakfast and decaf Green Tea with locally produced honey. (I sip this on my way to work and throughout the morning. Then I sip water the rest of the day.) Water is important!
By lunch time…some times earlier if needed, I will once again practice my breathing routine. Either with the app or just from memory.
Eat a mindful lunch. Trying to be focused on what I am eating and enjoy each bite. Then actually stop eating when I am full.
Listen to favorite music on the ride home from work.
On certain days, 2 to 3 times per week, I try to get to the gym. I mostly just walk the treadmill. But I love it. I work up a sweat and get to zone out for a little while.
After dinner is done and I’ve settled in for the night, I burn a candle that I love to help me wind down and feel peaceful. My new favorite candle is from Chesapeake Bay. It’s their Mind & Body Collection. I have been using the Peace and Tranquility Candle. It burns a very long time and the scent permeates a large area. The house smells great!
If I don’t burn the candle I will use a diffuser with essential oils instead.
I then pull out my yoga mat and do a short wind-down routine via Youtube and Yoga with Adriene. She is great and offers a variety of yoga routines for all levels and needs. I am new to yoga and often chose the simplistic, relaxation ones.
Next it is time to get pj’s on, wash face, use my current favorite nighttime moisturizer (maybe do a mask once a week).
I then apply my favorite before- bed lotion to arms, legs and feet. It is Aveeno Stress Relief (with lavender, chamomile and ylang ylang). Smells so good and helps me to get a restful sleep.
After that, I find a bedtime snack ( a must have for me) and I plop on the couch ( or snuggle up in bed ) and catch up on my DVR’d shows.
Then hopefully a solid 7.5 – 8 hours of sleep.
While this routine isn’t always followed to the “T”, I try most days to implement all of it. Keep in mind, I do have a life with family and household responsibilities. So I do give myself some slack when I don’t do it all.
As you can see, I incorporate time spent listening to scripture or devotions. I also pray in between which I didn’t mention as it is interwoven throughout my day. If that is not something you are into, no problem. But find something that feeds your spirit in other ways.
I’d love to see what your daily self-care plan looks like. If you don’t have a formal one, I encourage you to actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write it out. Seeing it written out may help you to acknowledge the things you already do that are good for yourself and reveal areas that need more attention.
Once you have the daily plan in place, think about a weekly or monthly one as well. Maybe that includes a lunch with a friend, a weekend trip or a massage. The sky is the limit.
Be good to yourself. Your Body, Mind, and Spirit will thank you for it.
“No, Not again. I can’t go through this again.” Those were the words I said while I cried to my husband as we realized our second child (a teenager) is now suffering with anxiety and extreme panic attacks. Our first child (who was around twenty years old at the time) had gone through this as well. The first child’s attacks were so severe that it was causing self-harm, suicidal thoughts, attempts, hallucinations, two stints in the hospital, numerous medications, insomnia, alcohol abuse and other behaviors I am probably not even aware of.
We have had sleepless nights and stress-filled days. Trying to go work and do what needs to be done while wondering what each hour is going to bring. Wondering if our child is going to be okay. At times it is an hour by hour, minute by minute thing.
The anguish of the person going through mental health struggles is horrendous. As is the pain of a parent seeing their child suffer and are not sure they want to live. The agony it has caused me has been indescribable. When the first child was going through the most intense period of mental health issues, they didn’t live at home. The attacks were severe so every day and night when the phone would ring or I would get a text message, I never knew what to expect. My heart would skip a beat. Sometimes it was nothing, just an everyday conversation or question. Sometimes it would be a frantic, text or call in the middle of the night. I’d be running over to their apartment, spending the night so they would be safe. Some days when number one was at our house, I could tell when they weren’t feeling their best and an attack was looming. Most of the time they were unstoppable, indescribable terror.
Seeing and experiencing your child go through mental torture, is simply unbearable. Now child number two is going through this as well. It first started with anxiety, then the anxiety attacks came and morphed into panic attacks. The only good thing is that we were aware of what was going on and able to seek help sooner rather than later. We are in the midst of this struggle right now. With the conditions that each of them has had or are experiencing, it isn’t a 24/7 thing where they feel anxiety/panic or terror. And it seems once the panic attack is over, they feel better and can continue on with life. But in the midst of it or leading up to it, it is sheer agony. And you never quite know when the next one will occur. Could be weeks, days or hours.
Child one doesn’t live near us at this time but is doing their best to live a full life. Everything isn’t great with child one, but it’s definitely better than what it was, while numerous medications were tried they didn’t give the desired result and some had very negative side effects. ONE hasn’t been on prescription meds for a while. TWO is resistant to taking any meds at this time but is going to therapy. We are still trying to figure all of this out.
My Own Issues
I have also had my own struggles with mental health, starting around 8 years ago. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but ultimately realized it was anxiety and anxiety attacks. While my situation was bad for me, it had not been nearly as bad as either of my children. But it did give me some insight and a little more understanding as to what they were/are going through. Their mental health issues didn’t become apparent until a few years after my diagnosis.
Seeing my kids go through this simply breaks my heart. For both of them and for me and my husband. Trying to manage our own mental health, while being there for the kids is a balancing act as well. I don’t know why all of this is happening. To look at us and our family, you likely wouldn’t suspect anything was wrong.
Maybe that is/was part of the problem. Perhaps we each hid our feelings too much and never dealt with things the way we should have when things happened. I don’t know. Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe it’s environmental, societal. I just don’t know.
What I do know is that this sucks. It really, really sucks. I am so proud of my kids for being strong and trying their best to fight this demon of mental health issues and to be willing to talk about it. I am so grateful that we live in an era where talking about and getting help for mental health issues doesn’t have the same stigma it did years ago. While there is still some shame that goes along with this, it is much less than in previous generations.
How I Get Through
So you may wonder, how in the world do you get through this? Honestly, I have only one answer. Besides my amazing husband, it is my faith in God. I don’t know why all of this is happening to our family, but I do know that it is God who is helping me day by day to get through it. If I didn’t have my faith in Him, I am sure I would have lost it by now.
He has provided me with comfort in my darkest hours. Has wrapped His arms around me when all I could do was cry. I have spent days and nights just crying, not being able to even pray. I just had no words. But as scripture says the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. I thank God for that.
I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I have faith God will help us get through it. I also believe He can heal all things. I don’t know if He will, but I believe He can. I am going to hold on to that hope as well. I have begun praying and reading Psalm 91. Psalm of protection. I am claiming that for me and my family.
I am sitting outside on my back deck. The wind is blowing pretty hard at the moment…but I don’t care. The air is cool, but the sun is shining and the sky is blue. I feel like it has been weeks since I’ve seen a “nice” day. I am so over winter.
My body and mind are aching for the scent and feel of spring. Longing for the sunshine, flowers in bloom and needing nothing more that a light jacket to keep warm. Spring always feels like a rebirth. In a sense it really is.
The grass begins to turn green again, the flowers start to bloom. I see people in my neighborhood out for a walk or a run. Kids outside playing. They know that summer is right around the corner. That is what it looks like around here when nicer weather has arrived.
My Place of Peace
I recenlty read a post by Joan Senio at My Best Friend Adeline, entitled “Beach Love“. In it she talks about the beach being her special place to feel at peace. I can so relate. I feel that way as well. But I have one beach in particular that I love. It is in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When I am longing for that place, I imagine my favorite spot. It is actually the Nags Head Pier. It is an older pier where die-hard fishermen go to fish. They have a great little restaurant onsite as well. It’s very low-key.
I admit, at first I was a little leery of the place as it seemed so old and almost run-down. Especially compared the the newly renovated pier just down the road, Jeanette’s Pier. Jeanette’s is a fabulous pier with a gift shop and has so much to offer as it is associated with the NC Aquarium. It really is a beautiful place. But for some reason, I still prefer the much more rickety Nags Head Pier.
I guess for me, perhaps it’s the memories that it holds. My son, at the age of 4 caught a baby shark while fishing with his dad. He was so proud of himself (Yes, we threw it back in). Maybe it’s the smells that I once hated but now love; fish bait and ocean air. Or the beautiful view from the end of the pier. Maybe I love it because it’s the place my husband and I would go at dusk to relax and take in the majesty of the ocean, the beach, the sky. Basking in God’s creation. We’d sit there until well after dark, listening to the rush of the waves crashing in.
Whatever the reason, this spot and the Outer Banks in general, is a place that I love to go to in order to truly relax and be at peace. Do you have a place like that?
Regardless of where your place of peace is, I hope you can get there again. Even if it is just in your mind. ‘Cause for me…. “In my mind I’m gone to Carolina.” Thank you, James Taylor!
For some amazing photos from the Outer Banks, one of my favorite photographers is THE OBX BEACH BUM.