My husband got knocked out with influenza last weekend. Full-blown 103+ degree fever, coughing, chills, hallucinating influenza. Luckily the boys and I have stayed healthy (so far), but it was an intense four days. I had some fun part-time work helping out with a local doula training, but other than that it was 24/7 kid-and-sick-husband-duty. And the boys did not want to leave their sick papa alone, so I spent most of the weekend trying to keep them out of the house. I actually took my 22-month-old and my 3-year-old to a crowded movie Saturday night out of sheer desperation. It was Silas’s first movie and I was prepared to leave fifteen minutes in if necessary, but he loved it.
Anyways, four days of this left me feeling socially isolated (never a good thing for me) and emotionally frazzled. There aren’t any easy answers to these situations – a lot of it is just riding it out – but I do think there are some little things you can do to get grounded and gain perspective. The following are my favorites:
Music is great when you’re doing something totally repetitive like dishes. You can pick something to help you relax, or if you’re the dancing type, pump up the jams. Either way, listening to some music I love tends to cheer me up for a bit.
2. Mini-Meditation or Reiki Session
When you’re frantically running around just trying to keep the house running, you don’t have time for a long, in depth meditation or Reiki session. However, I found myself turning to brief meditation sessions as I tried to wind down for sleep, and it was a nice way to relax before bed. Even a two-minute meditation is better than not taking the time at all.
There were a couple of times that I was able to drop the boys off with grandparents and take a break. It was a sanity saver. I know not everyone has the convenience of four retired grandparents in town, but these social networks are so important. If you don’t have family close by, check into babysitting co-ops! I know they have been game changers for some women.
4. Epsom Salt Bath
If you have an hour or so to yourself – which I didn’t – an epsom salt bath can be an awesome relaxation tool when you’re stressed. The magnesium is very calming for a lot of people, and I’ve actually known people who use epsom salt baths to deal with anxiety and panic attacks. So when it feels like it’s all piling up on you, even twenty minutes in the bath can help.
5. Venting Session
Be honest with someone about the fact that you’re struggling. It can be your mom, a sister friend . . . just someone with whom you’re comfortable saying, “Oh my god, this totally sucks right now.” They’ll know to check in with you and make sure things start moving in the right direction.
6. Essential Oils
If you have a scent that relaxes you, use it. Lavender tends to be a calming scent for most people. You can either diffuse it or dilute it and wear a little bit. Sometimes a little thing like a familiar scent can pull you back from a negative thought pattern.
I think we fall into a pattern of thinking that for gestures to be meaningful they have to be BIG. But when something happens to disrupt your routine, you don’t always have time for an afternoon at the spa or a girls’ night out. Breathe. Stay grounded. And work in whatever little rituals you can to get you back to normalcy.