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You don’t have to look far to see someone suffering from a horrific event.
Mass shootings, marriage break-ups, malignant cancer battles. It all swirls above us like the funnel cloud of a tornado leaving us wondering which way to seek shelter.
Maybe you have recently witnessed the death of a loved one. Perhaps you are watching a loved one battle for survival, or it’s you who has battled just to live.
I have lived through some events including witnessing tragic death while living in Asia, and sitting by my daughter’s ICU bedside for 6 months as she struggled to breathe from rare birth anomalies (Please give my book a read. You can purchase it here How to Survive the ICU Experience I’d really love it if you did!). Then there was the time I had to learn to walk again after I blew my Achilles Tendon out while training for a marathon, and there was the car accident that left me with a mild traumatic brain injury. I’m no poster child for trauma, and many of you have suffered far worse!
Trauma is trauma.
Let’s be clear. It’s not a “those people” event. The events that bring trauma happen to “us.” All of us. Although the events may differ, we need to learn as a community how to heal.
Here are 7 ways to begin the process of healing from trauma.
I have had the honor to take several courses from world humanitarian Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who often informs people,
To work through the traumatic event, you first have to name it.
Yes, this incident happened to you, but you are not the event.
Name it so you can move on.
Trauma can wreak havoc on your body affecting your nervous system and weakening your immune system.
Think about how your shoulders are up near your ears when you are dealing with trauma. Your neck, shoulder, and back muscles also respond to the storm trauma brings.
It’s OK to rest.
Put your feet up.
Allow your nervous system to heal.
While I healed from a brain injury as the result of a car accident, my neurologist’s main advice to me was,
It was one of the most important things I did while healing – rest.
We have to rest after a traumatic event.
Rest and repair.
Our minds can get caught up in the event that caused the trauma, and we can replay what happened over and over again. Even after some time, someone might say something or do something that may trigger your mind to loop back into the cycle of remembering the traumatic event.
As a teacher at a community college, I had fabulous students. Some of those remarkable students were soldiers newly returning from war.
One student of mine would bolt up in the middle of class when something triggered him. He would work through his mental mantras to reset his mind and then gently sit down.
To reset, repetition often helps, like repeating a mantra, or running, or playing the piano, or practicing breathing exercises.
Peaceful repetition can help refocus your mind and reset your nervous system.
One student of mine would go outside and shoot a basketball into his hoop when he felt the mental loop of trauma fired.
Find what it is that helps you reset, and practice it when you need to stop remembering the traumatic event.
Trauma can make us carb-hungry.
I find, too often, I reach for a chocolate donut in hard times.
Don’t do this!
You’ve been through a difficult time, and you need to repair. Just like a well-running car, you have to use the right oil and gas. Fuel your body well so it can rebuild.
Although I’d love to believe my body was created to eat large chocolate donuts, I know better. I react to life, and live life better when I fuel my body correctly.
While you heal, make sure you eat well as you rebuild.
For me, that means an increase in fruits, vegetables, and grains while eating healthy proteins.
When we exercise, those lovely endorphins pump through our system helping us feel better.
Your significant other ended things with you! You could sit on the couch and mope, or you could put on your sneakers and jog around the block a few times. When you sweat it out, you feel great.
My youngest daughter was critically ill for a very long time due to rare birth anomalies. I found that instead of sitting around crying about it, I could run and sweat those tears out of my system. The repetitive action of running not only helped me to reset my mind but also the act of physically moving forward enabled me to move forward.
Maybe you’re not a runner, but a walker, or an ice skater?
Find the exercise that is healthy for you, and get out there and do it!
Once we experience trauma, we want to talk about it all the time. We end up wallowing in our sorrow, and it seems hard to see anything else.
Focusing on the negative won’t help you in your recovery. Yes, you have to name the trauma, but you name it and move on.
When I first learned to drive a few years back (OK, so it was many decades ago), the driving instructor told me something that stuck with me. He said that if you are driving and lose control of the car, don’t look at the tree in front of you. If you look at the tree, you will steer towards the tree and hit it. Instead, look at the open space, and that’s where you will go.
Look towards the positive, and that’s where your life will head.
That can be difficult when you are on the exit ramp from trauma.
Life is beautiful and well worth living. There is something wonderful going on in your life right now.
It might seem minor, but focusing on the positive will help you stay on track.
Whatever the traumatic event is that you are working through, let’s be real here. You just went through trauma, and that sucks.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over the event. Remember you are not what happened to you.
Give yourself time to heal, and be patient with yourself.
In your journey towards healing, you may backslide. Lord knows I’ve reached for a donut or two in the not so recent past.
We are all human, and healing is a process.
Take time to read that book, take that hot bath, purchase that 70% off blouse from RueLaLa online. Wait, is that last one just me?
Know that whatever it is you are healing from, you can work through this and be better for the journey.
It’s hurricane season, and there is already another hurricane barreling towards us when most are still picking up the pieces from the last hurricane.
That’s life, though. Life presents one storm after another, whether it is in the form of a hurricane, personal illness, family trauma, and the list can go on and on.
We have to learn to live our best life now and not wait for the storm to pass.
Pampering is an essential part of living your best life. You HAVE to take care of yourself.
I used to live in Connecticut years ago. I loved living in Connecticut. It was such a beautiful place to live.
I made many new friends while I lived there. One of my new friends had immense wealth.
One day, I was at her humongous home, and our daughters were playing somewhere in the house, and my new friend was giving me a tour of her home.
I remember her showing me her bathroom, which was fantastic.
Floor to ceiling windows.
Beautiful sunken tub surrounded by ferns.
“I really love this tub, but I have never used it,” she commented to me.
“Why not?” I asked.
“I just don’t have the time?”
While we walked on to the next room, I was stunned over what she had just said.
How can you not have enough time for a bath?
In a tub you love?
How can life be so hectic that you can’t find 10 minutes for a soak?
Living in the idyllic backdrop of New England, I too kept myself busy; although I didn’t have the grand tub to ignore, I did ignore taking time for myself.
Then, I had a miscarriage at 15 weeks, which devastated my mind, body, and spirit.
Six months later, I had another miscarriage at 8 weeks, which further weakened me.
You’ll never guess what happened six months after that – I caught Lyme’s disease.
I felt like I was in a boxing ring getting punched in the face and gut over and over again by a prizefighter.
It’s just life, though. I am no different than anyone else.
Life can be one hurricane after another.
After it took months to climb out of the deep hole of lethargy that Lyme’s disease threw me into, I began to rethink the whole “No time for the tub” agenda, and I am hoping if that is your mindset, you will reconsider that too.
If you walk by your tub and think, boy I could use a soak, then take ten minutes out and soak.
Who is it going to hurt?
No one is going to care that you took time out for yourself.
If you have always wanted to take a gardening class, go do it NOW.
Don’t wait until the stars align or someone with higher rank gives you permission.
Go take the class NOW.
If you have always wanted to take yoga or exercise class, or meet your friend out for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, go do it NOW!
The excuses you make to not pamper yourself mean nothing.
When you take your last breath on this earth, I promise you, you will not think, “I lived a good decent life. I’m so glad I didn’t soak in my bathtub for ten minutes.”
You may very well say while at the end of your life, “What the hell was I thinking? My life is nearly over, and I never got a chance to live my best life.”
Taking time out for yourself helps you to live your very best life.
When you make that extra time in your day for yourself, go do what you need to pamper yourself.
None of us have that much time in life to pass up opportunities to be kind to ourselves.
Pamper yourself now because that next hurricane is already on its way.
If you want to have wellness, you’ve got to take care of yourself. An easy step towards wellness is to go soak in a tub!
You’ve got ten minutes, don’t you?
I’ll give you my Epsom Salt Bath recipe so you can go take a soak as you journey towards wellness.
As a toddler, one of my daughters had a very wealthy friend. Her mother was so generous with her time and always opened her home for playdates. She gave all of the moms a tour of her 10,000 plus square foot home during the first playdate. I remember the mom as being a very kind and humble person, yet I also remember her standing in her very large bathroom, motioning to her very large tub, telling us that she had this fantastic tub, but never had the time to use it.
She had a maid.
She had great wealth.
Yet, she couldn’t find ten minutes to soak in her own tub?
There’s something wrong with that.
If you’ve never taken a ten-minute soak in your own bathtub, you might not understand, so I challenge you to take a soak.
Fill your tub with warm water, get in, and just relax for ten minutes.
If you don’t have ten minutes to soak in your own tub, then you may need to look at how you are spending your time.
Let’s amp-up the Me-Time and add Epsom salts with essential oils to the water.
That’s where you might draw the line.
Those little containers of lavender-infused Epsom salt can run from $5 to $50, and they definitely don’t last long, especially if you are like me and pour in a good two cups per bath. But hang on, my simple recipe helps create more for less.
You may now be thinking, “More for less is great, but what is all the fuss about Epsom salt?”
Well, Epsom salt was discovered in the early 1600’s in Epsom, England. It’s been around for some time now.
Epsom salt differs from regular table salt in that regular table salt is made up of sodium chloride. Epsom salt is made up of a compound of magnesium and sulfate.
Although I use it for sore muscles AND wellness, Epsom salt is also used for arthritis, sprains, sleeplessness, ingrown toenails, and the list goes on! (Check out some other uses at “Why Take An Epsom Salt Bath?” at WebMD.)
Some people drink Epsom salt, but I don’t want to encourage that here because of the health risks. Check out some of these risks at WebMD.
Soaking for a good 10 minutes in a warm tub with a couple of scoops of Epsom salt helps me relax and refocus.
Here is my simple recipe to keep your bathroom stocked with Epsom salt for your next soak!
I bought mine from Bed Bath and Beyond for $9.99. This one-time purchase is reusable and will last indefinitely, as long as you don’t drop it!
I found the one I like at World Market for $7.99. This is also a one time purchase and lasts indefinitely.
I purchase fine grain Epsom salt in a 50 lb bag from Salt Works for $49.99. The bag usually lasts me about a year.
I use Radha essential oils and they cost about $12.95 – $14.95 for a 4 oz bottle, which lasts me about six months. It would last longer, but I also use the oils in diffusers as well as mixing it in the Epsom salt.
Now, go take a soak for ten minutes. You deserve it!
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We live in a society where we think the world should have access to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Why do we all think we are First Responders who are ALWAYS on call?
Why do we think that we must answer every call because someone somewhere will live or die based on how quickly we respond to our phone?
I’ll admit it; I am a phone offender. Every time I call my daughters, I think they should answer immediately. If they don’t answer immediately, it clearly means they have been kidnapped and need rescuing. In reality, my child is probably doing her nails.
Just ask them.
I can’t count how many times a conversation has gone like this:
“Hello,” my child.
“Why didn’t you answer my call?” me.
“Mom, I was in the bathroom, and hey, wait a minute, why did you call five times?”
“You always answer your phone! I thought something was wrong!”
“Mom, nothing was wrong. I was just using the BATHROOM!”
“Oh, thank God!”
“Mom, WHAT do you want?”
“I don’t remember, but I am so relieved you are OK.”
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we assume that an unanswered call or text means something other than that person is busy and can’t answer the phone?
Our cell phones are controlling us, and we need to take back control.
Here are three easy steps to break out of the cell we’ve created by being overly dependent on our phones.
Now you might be thinking, what if I have an emergency?
If you have an emergency, step out of your car, and get to a safe place to call the police.
What if a crazy beast is following me?
How often does that happen? I know it happens in movies, but that’s not real.
Now, cars have emergency buttons in case you get into trouble. If I found myself in a life-threatening situation, I’d push that button before I’d pick up the phone and dial a friend.
If you genuinely need the help of First Responders, you won’t be making any calls. I was in a car wreck a few years back, and people got out of their cars to call for help. There was no way I could make a call.
Are you afraid you will miss that urgent call or text?
You need to ask yourself, is it that important?
The world will go on revolving if you don’t answer that text until you have stopped and gotten out of your car.
I remember the phone booth days when I would have to park the car, get out of the car, walk to the phone booth, wait my turn, put in a dime and make my call. I always kept many dimes in the car ashtray. The collection of dimes became a collection of quarters when calls went up in price.
The world didn’t end because I wasn’t able to connect my cell phone to my car and answer the phone while driving.
If someone calls or texts you while you are driving, don’t answer.
Let them wait a few minutes or longer to get a hold of you.
Answering your phone right away doesn’t make you any more important than you already are.
The truth is people will think you are more important if they have to wait for your response.
You can answer the person when you have the time to answer.
Must you constantly be at the mercy of other people’s schedules?
It’s OK to set boundaries.
It’s OK to chew your food and swallow even when someone is calling or texting you.
It’s OK not to answer every call.
But, what if it is my child, and she is in danger? (OK, I admit it. I have to work on this one!)
You need to ask yourself this: Are you in the Special Forces? Are you a Ranger, Seal, or Green Baret?
If your child is in danger, shouldn’t she call 911?
Wouldn’t it be better if the Police SWAT team handled the situation, or are you confident that the whistle and pepper spray on your keychain combined with your Momma-bear instincts will save your child?
Not only do we burden ourselves with thoughts of cries of help through our phone, but we also place the weight of final goodbyes on them.
There is that thought that we have to be able to tell our husband, friend, child, parent, that person we love that we love them before their plane goes down, so we always have to answer the phone.
Even if they aren’t flying, we still have to answer the phone because maybe, maybe, their plans changed, and they are traveling and suddenly have found themselves in danger.
Instead of living in that agony every time the phone rings, why not just make sure everytime you leave someone you love, you let them know you love them?
Why wait until the hostage situation or the doomed plane flight to cry over a crackled phone connection that you love that person?
Don’t leave things unsaid, especially if it is an I Love You because the truth is, very few people get one phone call before they leave this earth.
Don’t live your life waiting for that final call or text to say what you should have said.
Who needs that type of agony?
Regularly connect with those around you. Don’t lock up your relationships in a password encoded cell phone.
If you haven’t noticed, life goes by fast.
Wasn’t I just 24 year’s old yesterday?
There are so many stories of people on their phone and completely missing a home run hit at a baseball game, or a dolphin jumping out of the water.
I remember one time I was in Austin, Texas on Sixth Street listening to this fantastic band. At the table in front of me sat a woman completely entranced with her phone. The lead guitar player jumped down off the stage, and played a guitar solo while on his knees surely rousing the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. The guitarist was so close to this woman.
She never looked up.
She never noticed the firey display of the impassioned musician inches from her while she stared at her phone.
If I had to live that moment over, I would have walked up to the woman, snatched her phone, ran to the front door, and thrown her phone into the street.
Surely, that would have saved her from her imprisonment.
Put it down, and walk away.
When I was a kid, back in the old days, we had a wall phone in the kitchen. It had a long cord on it, so I could sit all the way in the dining room and talk on the phone “in private.”
The world didn’t end because I had to share one phone with six other family members. The whole family knew who I was talking to, and it wasn’t a problem. We thought we were pretty fancy because we had a telephone with an extra long cord.
There were many times when the phone rang while we were at the dinner table, and my mother would say, “We will not answer that phone. We are eating dinner.”
The call would go unanswered, and everybody was fine.
None of us would jump up and race to the phone to answer it.
That would be crazy because we were eating dinner.
It seems now that people think a cell phone is a birthright.
When my kids were teenagers, they would often get their phones taken away from them if they did something wrong.
I would hear comments from my community like, “Oh, I would never take my child’s cell phone away.”
It’s a phone, not a pacemaker for their heart!
It’s OK not to be in touch with every person you have ever had contact with every single minute of the day.
Take a break.
It’s far better to talk to people face-to-face than via text.
I can’t list the number of times conversations have gone wrong through text without even adding in the complications of autocorrect.
One time, I texted my daughter “K” instead of “OK,” and she wanted to know why I was so mad at her when I was just trying to be cool.
So “OK” is ok, but “K” means I am pissed at you and being passive aggressive?
Take control of your life and disconnect your phone.
Turn off the power on your phone, and leave it in the kitchen. Try it just for the night.
Then, be bold and advance your time to an entire weekend with the phone off.
Take a break for a week. Leave a message on your phone that says, “If this is an emergency, please call [Fill in the name of your spouse or friend]. If you leave a message here, I will return your call next week. You can also email me at [Fill in your email address]”
Give yourself time to breathe.
If you want a healthy body, you are going to have to stretch. We continuously stretch our finances, our mind, our patience, yet we rarely stretch our bodies.
It’s so easy to say to ourselves, “I don’t have the time to sit down never mind to sit down and stretch.”
Most people have the notion in their heads that when they stretch they need to look like someone from Cirque du Soleil. Often, the thought pattern is, “I’m not bendy. Therefore, I shall not stretch.”
You don’t have to be bendy to stretch. You just breathe, hold a pose, and be patient with yourself.
Let’s talk about some rules to stretching.
Now you might be saying, “Aw, man! There are rules? I’m outta here.”
Hold on a second. These rules are simple. Take a look!
Don’t look at the person stretching next to you.
She’s not you. She doesn’t have your body. She has not been through what you have been through, so don’t compare yourself with the person next to you.
That’s easy enough, right? That rule doesn’t get you too worked up, does it?
Get worked up!
You want to get your blood flowing and your muscles warm before you stretch. Now don’t let that be a deal breaker. You can do a few, yes a few, jumping jacks, or run in place for 30 seconds.
That’s not too bad, right? It doesn’t take too much time to warm-up those muscles, does it?
Take time to stretch.
You will want to be gentle with yourself when you stretch and not just bend over in a quick jerking motion to a two-count and then exclaim, “Done!”
When you stretch, take time to breathe as you bend or lengthen. Relax. This is time for you! Hold a pose and count several breaths while you are holding the stretch.
Five or ten minutes out of your day shouldn’t hurt your schedule, right?
Stretching shouldn’t hurt at all.
If you find you’re holding a stretch with tears streaming down your face, or you just can’t breathe because of the pain, then back off the stretch. Find that place where there is no pain only a gentle, slight resistance because of tight muscles. When you feel that place, you should hold the position for a few breaths.
You aren’t going to cause pain while you stretch, so the ten or so minutes you spend stretching is relaxing, right?
Stretching helps get blood and energy flowing correctly throughout your body.
It’s essential, like flossing your teeth or taking fiber. I don’t find flossing or fiber very relaxing, maybe that’s just me, but I do find stretching relaxing. When you sit or stand to stretch, and you breathe through the stretch with the intention of elongating your tight muscles, your mind settles down.
Even for ten or so minutes, relaxing your mind is incredible. With a relaxed mind, you can get to the places in life you need to go.
Speaking of places, you don’t need to go anyplace to stretch.
You don’t need a fancy yoga studio, although the studio in the picture above is super nice. You don’t need a class to stretch. You can stretch where you are. Are you reading this while you are at work? Well, you can stretch right at your desk after getting up and moving to get your blood flowing. Do some jumping jacks to warm-up before your stretch. Go on. I dare you!
With stretching, all you need is your body. Unless you have entered The Matrix, you’ve always got your body with you, so you’re good to go!
Find time to stretch daily.
Yes, it is one more thing you need to add to your daily to-do list. Flossing, fiber, eating, sleeping, work, and now you have stretching added to the schedule. Remain calm; it’s just a five, ten, fifteen-minute addition.
There are many benefits to daily stretching. These benefits include increasing the overall wellness of your mind, body, and spirit.
Go on, stretch yourself! You’ll be glad you did.
Coming soon, How to Survive the ICU Experience, an eBook geared to help you as you sit by the bedside of a loved one.