Two years ago I was in the worst pain I had ever been in as I was struggling with a condition called Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. Although there is no cure and I still have bad pain days, some worse than others, my condition is mostly in remission. During that time I read the following passage “we do not know which obstacles we will face. We don’t know our road. All we can do is to believe that the road we are on has a purpose and lessons and blessings of its own which we cannot always understand in the moment.” Book excerpt from “Putting Out the Fire: New Hope for RSD/CRPS” by Katinka Van Der Merwe. I can honestly say that my challenges helped me to learn to ask for help and taught me that it is okay to say no. I am a pretty independent woman and a people pleaser but I realized that asking for help was not a sign of weakness and that saying no sometimes allowed me to put my self care first. I can honestly say that as much as I needed to read that message in 2018, it serves as a great reminder in 2020.
When we are in the midst of a challenge we cannot always see the hidden blessings. I can say without a doubt that Covid-19 has helped our team become better instructors and more observant individuals. It has forced us to think outside the box in how we deliver our curriculum and to adapt quickly to changes as they present themselves to us. From all of life’s challenges I have been faced with, I have learned these lessons:
Lesson #1: It is okay to say “NO.” Being a mom of three, I am often asked to help out with school events. Often times, without thinking it through, I would say yes. Although I enjoy giving back to my community and spending that extra time with my children, sometimes it would leave me having to complete other tasks while burning the midnight oil. Now, I don’t jump to answering yes. I take a look at my schedule and to do list. If I can manage both, then I say yes.
Lesson #2: You REALLY do have to take care of yourself first. I used to shrug this thought off when people asked me what I was doing to allow myself to relax. It is true that our families need us. As a mother, a wife and a small business owner, I am pulled in many different directions all the time. When I take that hour to get a pedicure or massage, I always feel better able to serve my family. Obviously Covid has made those experiences non quite so practical so what do I do now for my self-care? Well I go for a walk in nature, I read a book, I grab a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop, I take an extra long shower while music plays in the background…the key for me is to be kid free during this time.
Lesson #3: Exercise really does help. If you follow any health guru, you will often hear that exercise releases hormones that make you happy, such as adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. In addition to happiness, these hormones serve as all natural pain relievers. When I am in the most pain, I find that I can relieve some of that pain by exercising the parts of my body that are hurting. While it may seem counteractive to do so, this was what my physical therapy and pain management doctors prescribed for me. The first thought that popped into my head when they told me this “nonsense” was are they crazy? But, I was desperate for any pain relief so I got moving. At first it was so hard, but as I did it more, the better I started to feel. So next time you find yourself in pain, ask yourself what exercise can I do without making things worse and as the Nike slogan goes “JUST DO IT.”
Lesson #4: Rely on your tribe. Your tribe may be your family or it may be your friends. In fact, your tribe may change depending on the situation you are facing. The key here is to know that you are not alone. When my children were younger, I would trade off with friends so that my husband and I could enjoy a night off. Sometimes they would have a sleepover, other times it was just a few hours. Regardless, I always found I felt better after.
Lesson #5: Cut yourself some slack. Remember that you are one person and there are only so many hours in a day. Try to tackle the most important things first thing in the morning and then fill in the gaps with the rest of your to do list. Often times people portray their best selves on social media so be sure to not compare yourself to those portrayals. If you were to talk those same “best moms” about a challenge you are having, you may be surprised by their acknowledgement of having had a similar situation. Remember, your best is enough!
So, when you are feeling down and out about your current situation, have faith that it serves a purpose, there are hidden lessons and blessings waiting to be revealed. My challenges have taught me the lessons above and more. What are you learning about yourself as you are facing these Covid challenges?