We are all living in such a stressful time right now. Many of us are trying to juggle work, kids, distance learning, and the anxiety of this pandemic. Although some might not see it this way, our family started off this pandemic with an advantage: we've been here many times before.
Liam was diagnosed with Leukemia on May 10, 2018. Since that day, we've had to isolate several times, cancel countless plans, reschedule celebrations, wear masks and be cautious of germs. When we went into lockdown in early March, we were ready and the kids weren't even fazed by this pivot in lifestyle. It was like riding a bike for us.
We realized this advantage early on, and tried to reach out to our family and friends. We tried to schedule zoom meetings and checked in with people. Isolation is hard, but we already knew this.
If you are like me, the stress of everything is heavy. Our mental health during these traumatic life experiences quickly shifts. It's likely that you have been home more than usual since March, and you haven't had much of a break. One of the main strategies I've been told to work on since Liam's diagnosis is making sure I take time for self-care. In January of 2019, I noticed a shift in my mood. I had been working on taking time for myself for at least 30 minutes each day. Here is what I wrote in one of Liam's Caring Bridge updates:
"I baked for fun last week. I met with friends last week. I finished two books last week. I made sure to have "me time" last week. I was me last week... for the first time in a really long time... When Liam was diagnosed, I completely lost myself. I didn't even want to do anything that might bring me joy with the guilt of Liam going through so much pain. I didn't eat for days and I'm pretty sure we saved on our water bill with my lack of showers. It's been a few days since I've cried last. I cried myself to sleep for months in the beginning. My heart still sinks when I think about the long path ahead and the life-long difficulties he will face, but I'm finding better ways to cope and to carve out some time to recharge myself."
My guess is that so many of us are feeling this kind of stress right now. My greatest advice is to carve out some time for you. Every day. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate and it doesn't even have to cost any money. What do you enjoy doing? Do that. What makes you feel relaxed? Do that, too. What makes you laugh? Make sure to also do that. These are hard times, and it looks like we will be here for many more months. We are all feeling pretty overwhelmed, and now is the perfect time to start making more time for self-care.