You can find an emotional balance after illness or injury

You can find an emotional balance after illness or injury

Learning how to find an emotional balance after illness or injury can sometimes take a back seat. Your focus is often on recovery, rehabilitation, and figuring out how to live your life in your changed body.

Time moves on and you’ve started doing things you used to do before the illness or injury. You’ve worked hard to get to this point. You tell yourself you should feel grateful. But you don’t. You don’t feel that sense of emotional balance.

You may be quick to anger, tears or both, feel like you’re hiding away from people and life, and feel guilt. You feel what you’ve lost: your old life, a sense of control, confidence, etc. It’s taking a toll on your mental health. You wonder if you will ever feel well again, find an emotional balance and be happy. And is that even possible given all the (unwanted and un-asked for) change you’ve been through.

 

Pic of a woman with a stick due to having a disability and looking at the health lottery ticket she won but she didn't even know she was playing.

It’s not uncommon to lose one’s sense of emotional balance when you find out you won a health lottery you didn’t even know you were playing.

 

This is a common scenario I come across in my work as a coach and facilitator and it’s clear why. Recovery and rehabilitation along with your regular day-to-day life can be a full-time job. You may not have the energy to focus on the emotional side of things. But it can also feel really scary and too big to deal with. And knowing how to deal with it can be an issue. It may feel easier to use your energy to keep the lid firmly shut on it. Yet the issues keep bubbling up pushing the lid off.

 

Pic of a person trying to keep a lid on the sadness they feel.

Pushing down your sadness means it will keep coming up to the surface and spilling out.

 

So I want to share with you two important things you can do which will help you find an emotional balance after illness or injury.

 

Learn the two things you can do to find an emotional balance again after a life-changing illness or injury #seriousillness #chronicillness #invisibleillness #seriousinjury #healthcoaching #wellness tell a friend

 

1. Integrate your experience of the illness/injury into your life story to find an emotional balance

 

You have a story of your life. When and where you were born, what it was like for you growing up and becoming an adult, who your best mates are, what you enjoy doing, your education, the work you do, key events in your life, etc.

The key thing is to integrate your experience(s) of the illness or injury so it is a part of your life story rather than dominating it – the negative and positive experiences. (And yes, you may have experience some positives such as the kindness of a stranger, a good friend standing by you, something else.) Your illness or injury experience will shape you as a person, but you’ve experienced a lot of other events, emotions, relationships, jobs, experiences, etc. which have also shaped you. And will continue to do so.

 

The illness/ injury/ disability is one part of your life, not the whole of it.

 

Your #seriousillness #chronicillness #invisibleillness #seriousinjury is one part of your life, not the whole of it #healthcoaching #wellness tell a friend

 

I find what helps you to do this is acknowledging, owning, and finding a way to express the feelings you experience in relation to the illness/injury. Even the unfamiliar and unpleasant ones like sadness, grief, anger, isolation, etc.

Clients often describe being in touch with these unpleasant feelings as moving through a swamp. People find the prospect scary and so avoid the swamp as they fear they will drown in it. As I wrote in other blogs, it’s not about unpacking and drowning in the swamp forever and ever. There are ways to acknowledge these feelings so that does not happen to you.

 

Woman flailing in a swamp of unpleasant emotions and there is a woman on the bank saying that the swamp isn't deep, the woman can stand and trying to help get her out.

Paradoxically, to find an emotional balance often means wading through the swamp of unfamiliar and sometimes scary emotions and feelings.

 

These unpleasant feelings are actually really normal to experience in the scheme of life. It is unfortunate that society has stigmatised them as not normal. They are part of a spectrum of feelings and acknowledging that we feel them demonstrates our human-ness.

 

2. Integrate the person you were before the illness/injury with the person you are now and are becoming to find an emotional balance

 

This is the second thing you can do which will help.

Before the life-changing illness/injury, you knew who you were and what you were about: your likes, dislikes, you had plans for the future and dreams, you had your friends, work, routine, etc. Things felt stable and you ticked along happy and confident that if you put the effort in, you would get the results you wanted for yourself.

But after the life-changing illness or injury, you may feel like you are not you anymore, whilst knowing you are still you. You feel like a contradiction and this can feel destabilising, hence why people try to find an emotional balance. Many people feel this so it’s entirely normal. It’s also true that you are you and not you.

 

After a life-changing #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury you may feel you are still you but not you. It’s true. You are you and not you. Read why here. #healthcoaching #wellness tell a friend

 

The reason why is you are evolving.

 

The direction your life is taking is completely different from what you thought it was prior to your illness or injury. In a sense, you are living a new life. And there is no visible, well-trodden path to living this new life. No one gives you a handbook on how to find an emotional balance.** There are a lot of unknowns before you. And the unknown is uncertain, which can be worrisome, and it can feel like you are in the swamp again.

Part of this process of integration is being very conscious of how you are now and how you are changing, taking a proactive and deliberate role in it, and determining the direction you are moving in.

As you take considered action, what you are doing is building your path of wellness as you are walking/rolling on it. And as you are building your path, you know what is going into it. That creates a level of certainty. Do this and you find an emotional balance you have been seeking. It’s possible.

 

Pic of two women building one of the women's path of well so she can find an emotional balance

Building your own path of wellness will enable you to find an emotional balance.

 

What’s it like for you?

 

What has it been like for you when trying to find an emotional balance after a life-changing illness or injury? What has helped you to find an emotional balance again?

If you are living with a chronic illness, or the after effects of a serious illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to build that firm path back to wellness, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

** My blogs are meant to be the handbook on how to find an emotional balance and more after a life-changing illness or injury. You can sign up to my newsletter below to get them direct to your inbox.

 

If you want to leave a comment privately, complete this form. If you want to leave it publicly, keep scrolling.

How to increase your self-worth after illness or injury

How to increase your self-worth after illness or injury

To increase your self-worth after illness or injury can feel like a mammoth task. You’ve been thrown into this unknown land of serious illness or injury, you can’t do what you once did, and you don’t know what to do to feel better. You may feel like you have lost control and aren’t sure who you are anymore. It’s understandable that your confidence takes a nose dive and your self-worth quickly follows.

So I have an exercise to help you increase your self-worth after illness or injury. It’s easy. And fun. It also ties in nicely with last week’s blog where I wrote about adjusting high standards after an illness or injury and maintaining your self-worth in the process. This exercise can help with that too.

I came up with this idea when chatting to a participant after delivering a self-management course about developing ways to manage one’s health condition. The exercise was well received. So I’m sharing it with you.

It doesn’t matter if you have the illness or injury, how long it’s been since you’ve had it or are the carer. This exercise applies to everyone.

 

Increase your self-worth after illness or injury exercise

 

Have you experienced a #seriousillness #seriousinjury or have a #chronicillenss? Does your #confidence and #selfworth feel low? Increase them w/ this exercise tell a friend

 

1. Make a list of actions you can take which will make you feel better, enhance how you look after yourself, contribute towards your sense of wellness

 

These actions can be behavioural actions, something someone would see you do or hear you say. Or they can be more mental based, internal to you.

The actions can be related to different parts of your life – how you feel in yourself, your physical wellness, managing your health condition, your recovery/rehabilitation, family relationships, social life, job/career, faith, life purpose, adjusting your own personal high standards, etc.

Here is my list

  • Stretch every day and do it during the day so I get away from my desk and computer.
  • Walk to the shops every day.
  • Reduce portion sizes at meals by 1/3.
  • Move to blogging weekly. Write the blog for the next week on a Friday.
  • When I get into the typical negative thought cycle that I do, stop and ask myself, ‘What do I really need right now?’
  • I imagine being in touch with a friend. So I will email or text them to start the conversation in real life.
  • Someone compliments me. I will thank the person and I will not say, ‘Oh, that was nothing,’ as that is minimising what I did. I will also sit with the compliment, notice the positive feelings it gives me and let myself feel how good it makes me feel.
  • I will tell myself I am a good person just because.
  • Take a luxurious bubble bath once a week.

These are real and current for me right now.

 

It’s important to notice the characteristics of the actions, as they help to contribute towards your self-worth.

 

There are a variety of actions, which is good as I am not relying on one type to increase my self-worth.

The actions are helping me to make a change I want for myself. So it’s ok if the actions will be repeated. An action promoting change has to be repeated for the change to become a habit.

They focus on various aspects of my life promoting me to look after myself physically, emotionally, etc.

These actions are FOR ME. And this is incredibly important. When setting your actions, make sure they are FOR YOU. Not purely what other people want you to do for them or actions you want to take to please others.

What I don’t want is for you to end up in a cycle of achieving things to please others to feed your self-worth. It may increase your self-worth, but if these are the only actions which feed your self-worth it gets very tiring after a while and is not sustainable. I know, I did it for a good part of my life.

It’s fine to have some actions which benefit both you and others, like focusing on spending more time with your children, older parents, friends, volunteering, etc.

And it’s fine to have everyday actions that nurture you in some way – making time to read a good book, or have a cup of quiet tea in the morning before the family wakes up, or taking a bubble bath.

 

Pic of a person holding their hands over their heart and the actions they have taken to feed their self-worth

What action are you taking to feed your self-worth?

 

If you want a structured exercise to help you set actions for this exercise, then get the free Wellness Assessment from the homepage of my website. It will help you to set goals in areas of your life important to you, and then the actions you can take to start moving yourself towards them.

 

2. Find a jar with a wide enough opening to put things in

 

This is your Self-worth Jar. Make sure the jar is such that you can see the contents inside of it, i.e. clear glass or plastic.

Feel free to decorate it as much or as little as you wish.

If you don’t have a jar, a vase can work well.

 

Picture of a clear glass jar and vases which can be used as your self-worth jar

 

3. Find an object to represent the actions you plan to take

 

This can be marbles, stones or gravel, or other small objects. They could even be from nature: acorns, conkers, pinecones, shells. You’ll need a number of these. Or you can use a piece of paper with your action written on it.

Feel free to use a mixture of small items to represent the actions you will take.

Make sure the items representing your actions are in proportion to the size of your Self-Worth Jar. If you jar is too big and the items representing your actions really small, it can take a long time to fill up your jar. You want to make this process achievable for yourself.

 

Picture of everyday items like stones gravel shells conkers and corks which can be used to put in your self-worth jar every time you take an action that increases your self-worth

 

4. Every time you take one of your actions, put an object in your Self-Worth Jar

 

Pic of items (conkers) in a self-worth jar. The conkers represent an action taken to increase one's self-worth.

 

When you do that, metaphorically pat yourself on your back, give yourself a high-5 and tell yourself well done. Notice the feelings you feel and identify where in your body you feel them. Sit with these feelings for a bit. This is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT TO DO.

I cannot emphasise this enough. When you do this you are learning or reminding yourself:

  • What it feels like to do something positive and nurturing for yourself
  • What it feels like to set goals which are good for you and to move towards them
  • How good it feels to achieve something for yourself
  • That it’s ok to do something good purely for yourself
  • That you are good and fine just the way you are right now.

Watch your jar fill up. Bask in your self-worth.

When you do something good for yourself, notice the feelings you feel and identify where in your body you feel them. Read why that is important here #healthcoaching tell a friend

 

5. When your jar is full, continue basking in your self-worth

 

Notice the feelings you feel and identify where in your body you feel them. Sit with these feelings. I say it again – This is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT TO DO.

BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT YOUR SELF-WORTH FEELS LIKE!

And when you know what your self-worth feels like, and you consciously and intentionally practice what it feels like, it starts to become a natural and habitual part of you. This helps you to increase your self-worth.

 

Pic of a person taking a bath but they are bathing in their self-worth

Take the time to bathe in your self-worth

 

You can empty the jar and start again. You may wish to note somewhere when you have filled up a jar just to remind yourself from time-to-time of how you have helped yourself.

 

What’s it like for you?

 

What do you think of this Self-Worth Jar exercise? What strategies have you used to increase your confidence, self-esteem and self-worth?

Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. If you don’t want to do that because the comments are public, send them to me using the contact form below.

Feel free to start your Self-Worth Jar and share it on social media and tag me using the hashtag #selfworthjar

Twitter – @barbara_babcock

Facebook – @ReturnToWellnessUK

Instagram – @returntowellness_UK

LinkedIn – bbabcock

If you are living with a serious health issue, which may be a serious illness or injury or chronic illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to return to a sense of wellness, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

 

If you want to leave a comment privately, complete this form. If you want to leave it publicly, keep scrolling.

 

Why adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury helps

Why adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury helps

Adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury often helps people to live well with the impact but can be such a hard thing to do. So when clients say to me they have personal high standards for themselves, they are proud of them because they have enabled them to achieve so much, I get that. And I also make a note of it. (and I still make a note when I notice my own high standards) Here’s why.

Adjusting your personal high standards after #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury often helps people to live well with the impact but can be such a hard thing to do. tell a friend

 

Usually these clients have done bucket loads to help their recovery. Regularly doing physiotherapy, learning about the medical condition, reading books, taking up new hobbies and more. But they find they still aren’t where they want and expect to be.

 

Pic of a person with a disability sitting, crying and wondering why they still don't feel good even though they have been doing a lot to help themselves.

 

That is often when we start working together. I can see how their high standards are one of the things getting in the way of them finding a sense of peace in living in their changed bodies. Here is a typical example of what that looks like in action.

 

Personal high standards can create a vicious cycle

 

Client decides on a task or an activity to do or sets herself a goal.

She has to put in more physical effort to complete the task, activity or goal than in her pre-illness days.

Client worries about having the physical ability and stamina to finish the activity or task.

She compares herself and abilities to her pre-illness self. (This is where pre-illness high standards take over.)

Client continues trying to complete the task, activity or goal to the same standards as pre-illness.

But it’s taking a long time and it’s a lot harder.

She feels anxiety as a result.

Client does not relax.

She therefore does not enjoy the activity.

The client gets upset with herself.

You can see how the high standards from her pre-illness days were making were making her life difficult. They can lead to a vicious cycle and get in the way of a person making the change they want for themselves.

When your body has changed considerably, you end up putting a lot more physical, mental and emotional effort to do things you once did. And that can make it difficult for you to meet your pre-illness high standards. The high standards suited your body and capabilities as they were then, not now.

 

Pic of a person trying to push a heavy rock of personal high standards up a hill but not getting anywhere. Another person tells them that they adjusted their standards and they have been easier to carry ever since.

 

I’ve noticed that when people realise this and importantly, acknowledge this is their reality, that can then free up their energy to do something different to help themselves get to where they want to be.

 

Acknowledging your high standards are no longer achievable or difficult to achieve may not be an easy process

 

This needs to be respected I feel. The person is experiencing a HUGE change, often a life-changing change, which they may be finding traumatic. How their illness or injury occurred could also have been a traumatic event for them. Gentleness and compassion are needed.

I want to explain why this process of acknowledging their reality and adjusting personal high standards after illness or injury is not always easy for people.

 

1. When you experience a life-changing illness or injury, you don’t know what you don’t know

 

As I’ve said in previous blogs, it’s not like you get a handbook on how to deal with the change, adjust, move on with your life and be happy. So of course, you will be operating to your pre-illness or pre-injury standards. It is what you know.

 

2. Your willingness in adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury plays an important role

 

Your willingness will have an impact on how you adapt to living with the impact. Unwillingness to adjust can take several forms.

Your willingness to adjust your personal high standards after #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury plays an important role. Read more here. tell a friend

 

2a. You don’t give yourself choices

 

Some people can operate in a such a way where they don’t give themselves choices in adjusting their personal high standards after illness or injury. For example, ‘I can be like I was or not. Not being like I used to be is not an option. So I’m going to do things as I used to do.’

This can feel a very black and white approach to the situation where only one way is acceptable.

 

2b. You associate your high standards with who you are as a person

 

If you associate your high standards with the sense of who you are as a person, your sense of identity, this can make it difficult to adjust them. For example,

I am a high-achiever.’

When we say I am such-and-such, the I am is fixed. There isn’t much movement to it.

Instead, have a go at saying, 

I work hard and put in a lot of effort to do a lot of things very well.’

That is more process-based, which means it is based on behaviours, i.e. working hard, putting in a lot of effort. When you make your way of being in the world based more on behaviours, there is more movement and flexibility. You can start to adjust how hard you work, how much effort you put in to things. (I am really hoping this makes sense, but if not, leave a question in the comments and I’ll respond.)

If you also place a high value on being this way as a person, this too can contribute to less willingness to adjust your high standards. For example,

am a high-achiever and it’s a great way for me to be.’

This can be hard to let go of. And I get why. Being the high achiever could have served you very well and you’ve done great things with it. There can also be that fear of,

‘If I let go of this, will it mean I am any less great/good as a person?’

Not only are we adjusting our high standards of ourselves, we are also adjusting the value we place on those standards and the value we place on ourselves as a consequence of living to those standards. It’s about adjusting your high standards and maintaining your self-worth.

 

2c. Adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury means you are acknowledging what has happened

 

When adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury, it also means you are acknowledging the change you’ve experienced. If the change was unwelcomed and not wanted, which most serious illnesses and injuries are, acknowledging the change can be harder.

 

Pic of a person with a disability sitting down and crying about having to deal with the change they never would have chosen for themselves and not being able to accept it.

 

I am using the word acknowledgement on purpose. Many times I hear people say accept. Re-read the previous paragraph using the word accepting instead of acknowledging. Notice any differences you feel.

Sometimes the meaning people give to the word accept can have a not-very-helpful impact on their adjustment process. (I will be writing more about this in the future, but for now if you want to share with me your experience of acceptance in the context of living with a serious health issue, there’s more on that below.)

The above three reasons explain why being willing to adjust our high standards can be hard and why this process must be handled with respect, care and compassion.

 

But having high standards isn’t a bad thing

 

I am not saying having high standards are bad and you can no longer have them. They can have a positive impact:

  • Motivating you to set goals and strive to meet them, which is great for your psychological health (provided the goals and the process are striving towards them are not harming you or others physically or psychologically).
  • Enabling you to achieve more than you originally thought possible.
  • The sense of achievement can feed your self-worth.

All good stuff.

Important Tangent: It’s recommended that your sense of self-worth comes from many sources, not just achieving things particularly if it’s to gain the approval of others.

Having personal high standards when living with #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury isn’t a bad thing. The key thing is being able to adjust them as and when you need to. tell a friend

 

The key thing is adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury to the person you are now physically and psychologically. This is one of the things which helps to bring that sense of peace back into your life. And it’s an ongoing process. You can continue to adjust your personal high standards throughout your life.

 

A mind map of what helps you to adjust your high standards of yourself after illness or injury. Being wiling to adjust them is key.

 

What’s it like for you?

 

Does any of this resonate with you? What has helped you in adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

I appreciate though leaving a comment publicly about your health situation may not be your thing. So if you want to share it with me privately, complete the contact form below and I will respond.

If you are living with a serious health issue, which may be a serious illness or injury or chronic illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to adjust your personal standards, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

 

If you want to leave a comment privately, complete this form. If you want to leave it publicly, keep scrolling.

 

Guidance for living well with a serious illness or injury

Guidance for living well with a serious illness or injury

You may not be given guidance for living well with a serious illness or injury: what to do, what to avoid, etc. And in the early stages, a lot of your energies are focused on treatment, surviving the ordeal and recovery.

But then a few months or even years after the medical crisis, there’s that part of you that doesn’t feel quite right, definitely not the same as before. Living in a changed body and that experience of losing control can take its toll not just on your physical body, but your mind, heart and soul. I am writing this post to speak to that part of you.

 

Healing your heart, mind and soul

 

I believe that to bring healing to our hearts, minds and souls, we have to get to know ourselves in ways we may not have had to prior to the illness or injury.

People often say they love people watching and learning about how ‘people tick’. The work I am speaking about is learning about how you tick so you have greater control over your emotional, psychological and soul health.

I want to share with you some questions which will help you get to know yourself better and thereby develop your own set of guidance for living well with a serious illness or injury.

I came across these questions whilst travelling across the internet. They were created by John O’Donohue, an Irish poet, author, philosopher and one-time priest. He is no longer with us, which is a shame as his work is lovely. I learned they come from the book To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. So of course I immediately purchased it to add to my collection.

 

Pic of book To Bless The Space Between Us

New book in the house!

 

The book offers thoughts or ‘blessings’ for periods of change in your life whether that be marriage, birth, new job, new home, adulthood, illness or something else. They are meant to help you on your journey from the known into the unknown, which a transition such as a serious illness or injury is all about. It’s very good. And it’s a book you dip into as and when.

Here are the questions.

 

At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions

Copyright © 2007 by John O’ Donohue

What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Whom did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today? How deeply did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations had I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence – why was I given this day?

 

Thought provoking aren’t they?

 

Pic of woman reading thought provoking questions which get her to think about how her day was

Reflecting on how your day was

 

If you wish, buy the book. Put the questions somewhere where you will see them every day. It may be enough to glance over them and keep them in mind as you go about your day.

For others, you may wish to use this to explore yourself more deeply and write responses to these questions. Particularly if you are on a quest to change something about yourself (even if you don’t know what that is yet). How often you write your responses is up to you. Some of you may wish to do it every day, or every few days or once a week.

These questions provoke deeper thought, the kind of reflection that helps you identify patterns and themes and identify the changes you wish to make. Self-reflection promotes self-awareness, one of the critical components of change.

 

Pic of formula of change equals self-reflection plus intention plus action

A formula for change

 

What’s it like for you?

 

What do you think of these questions? Which ones particularly resonated with you? Are there questions you ask yourself which you don’t see here? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you are living with a serious health issue, which may be a serious illness or injury or chronic illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to return to a sense of wellness, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

Questions by John O’Donohue. The rest of the blog is written and pictures drawn or photographed by Barbara Babcock, 2018.

 

References

As published in the USA – O’Donohue, J. (2008) To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. New York, USA: Doubleday.

As published in the UK – O’Donohue, J. (2007) Benedictus: A Book of Blessings. London, UK: Bantam Press.

 

Depression and serious illness are not a good combination, aim for positivity

Depression and serious illness are not a good combination, aim for positivity

Depression and serious illness or injury is reckoned not to be a good combination. Being positive is often seen to be the better choice.

For example, I often hear people say, ‘Well, you can either get depressed and upset or you can be positive,’ in relation to living with the impact of a serious illness or injury. Many times, the person presents it as being happy is the right choice. Because who wants to be depressed and upset, right?

I get that. The fear that depression and sadness can overwhelm us and once we go there, we won’t be able to get out, is very real. So, we don’t go there at all. We shut that door and double lock it. Depression and serious illness won’t get us.

Picture of a person trying to lock out the depression and sadness of their serious illness

Locking depression and sadness out

 

I acknowledge this works for people.

I also want to acknowledge that for others, ignoring how sad and/or depressed they feel and striving to focus only on being positive may not. And I want to tell you why.

If you are one of these people, you may find what I share here will help your thinking around this and restore calm in how you feel about yourself.

Is it wrong to feel depressed when living with a #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury? Is it better to focus on feeling positive? What are your thoughts? tell a friend

 

Why the choice between depression and serious illness or being positive may not work for you

 

It’s a choice between two ways of being. An either-or choice. Be sad or be positive.

You only have two options.

On top of this, depression and sadness can have a negative connotation in our society so being positive is the ‘correct’ choice.

 

Your choices are laced with judgement

 

Have you selected the right choice or the wrong choice?

It’s not fun to be seen as the person who selected the ‘wrong’ choice, i.e. being sad and depressed. It also assumes that is an active choice we make. But sadness and depression doesn’t work like that. They can creep up on your unnoticed. Or come unexpectedly to be your new companion.

Pic of a person telling a sad person to snap out of it

If you only you could just snap out of depression and serious illness. But it doesn’t work like that.

 

So of course you plough on, trying your damndest to be positive, because you can’t let the illness or injury ‘win’. Yet inside, there is a well of sadness filling up that you keep trying to push down.

Pic of a person trying to keep a lid on the sadness they feel.

Pushing down your sadness means it will keep coming up to the surface and spilling out.

 

You are expending your often times limited amounts of energy in these opposing directions. How long will your energy last? In my experience, not forever. Here’s an alternative.

 

Rather than give yourself a dilemma, give yourself a trilemma

 

This is what a tutor from my first coaching qualification told me. This was an important learning that has helped me (and others) in coping with difficult situations like a serious illness.

When we say we have a choice between this or that – being sad or positive for example – we give ourselves two choices, or a dilemma. Sometimes this is referred to as ‘black and white thinking’.

What if you gave yourself a third choice? Or a fourth choice? So you have a trilemma or a quadlemma.

This is about moving from

either this or that

to

either this or that or that or…

You can give yourself as many choices as you wish.

Pic of the either-or dilemma and giving yourself more choices

Giving yourself more choices

 

When you have more than two choices, you give yourself more possibilities.

When you have more than two #choices, you are giving yourself more possibilities. #seriousillness #seriousinjury #chronicillness tell a friend

 

These possibilities open up new ways of being and doing which may better meet your needs. You are no longer stuck with two choices neither which may be right for you.

When you have several possibilities, you have a choice to select one that is appropriate for you at that time. This helps to build your muscle of flexibility. And the ability to be flexible and move among choices is so important to living well with the impact of a serious illness or injury.

More possibilities also help to take away the judgement of seeing your choice as being right or wrong. It becomes the best choice for you in that moment.

 

Giving ourselves choices acknowledges the many ways we feel

 

Importantly, when we give ourselves choices, we are acknowledging that there are many ways we can feel at any particular time.

If we just give ourselves only two choices laced with the judgement that one choice is correct and the other wrong, then we discount something very real we may be feeling.

It is NORMAL to feel incredibly sad when we are dealing with the impact of a serious illness or injury. Acknowledging how you feel gives validity to your experience. This validity can be very healing.

Acknowledging how you feel about living with a #seriousillness #chronicillness or #seriousinjury gives validity to your experience. Validity helps the healing process tell a friend

 

Acknowledging your sadness, depression and serious illness also develops your self-awareness. You are in a better position to recognise what you need and then make a choice to meet that need.

When you meet your needs, then you are much less likely to end up unpacking and living in the sadness and depression.

So I encourage you to acknowledge the many ways you feel – desperately sad some moments or days, hugely depressed on others, sad but not huge amounts at other times, pretty good on other days, downright happy and thrilled in other moments, etc, etc.

Give yourself choices in how you feel, your needs and how you meet those needs.

Pic of a person saying that acknowledging their feelings brings benefits of validity and choices

 

What’s it like for you?

 

How do the thoughts in this article resonate with you? How are you at acknowledging the many ways you feel in relation to your, or a loved one’s, serious illness, serious injury or chronic illness?

If you are living with a serious health issue, which may be a serious illness or injury or chronic illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to return to a sense of wellness, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

How to prepare for returning to work after illness

How to prepare for returning to work after illness

Prepare for returning to work after illness or injury. Is that a thing? You’ve been through a serious illness, perhaps life-changing for you in some ways, treatment has ended, your recovery is going pretty well and returning to work is now on the horizon. Hurrah!

You just want to get back to work. Back to normality! Your regular salary and not sick pay. Being with other people again. Making a contribution. There may be concerns and worries of course. But getting back to normality like work is a key milestone.

Then you get back to work, you go for it, and you crash. Hard. Your body isn’t coping. You have to go back on sick leave. You’re thinking, ‘What the… *insert fruity language*?!?! You feel so disappointed.

 

Pic of someone returning to work after illness and it doesn't go well

When the return to work doesn’t go to plan.

 

I totally understand how that can happen. It’s pretty common actually. If you’ve haven’t been seriously ill before, how would you know how to prepare for returning to work after illness or injury? You don’t necessarily know that stuff. It’s not like your doctor gives you an info sheet on it.

I’m going to share a few tips to help you avoid that. I split them into four categories – Mind, Heart, Body and your Role at work. This is about taking a holistic approach to prepare for returning to work after illness or injury.

Click here on how to prepare your mind, heart and body to return to work after a serious illness or injury. #returntowork #seriousillness #chronicillness tell a friend

 

How to prepare for returning to work – Your mind

 

Manage your expectations of yourself.

We often expect our return to work after illness to go like this.

Person returning to work after illness expecting a smooth return to work

People’s expectations for returning to work can often look like this

 

It’s more often like this.

Pic of a graph demonstrating that the return to work after illness is not smooth

A return to work after illness often looks like this.

 

Be gentle with yourself.

It’s very easy for your pre-illness expectations of yourself to come to the fore when you start returning to every day normal activities. It’s normal for this to happen because your pre-illness expectations of yourself are all you know. But I often see clients battle to live up to those expectations. And I use that word ‘battle’ on purpose. It’s like a fight, ‘I will not let this illness and these symptoms beat me. I will WIN! I WILL last the whole day at work!’

This kind of fight is a negative fight as you have actually handed over control to your pre-illness expectations. You have become their slave. It can be a very unhappy and frustrating place to be in when you find that no matter what you do, you can’t live up to those expectations.

The thing is, your pre-illness expectations may no longer match your body’s capabilities. Your body has changed. Therefore, your expectations of what your body can do also need to change. They need to align with your new capabilities.

Being able to adapt is key for this to happen. But with adaptation comes acknowledgement of what has happened to you. For some, this process of acknowledging the change can be hard.

This brings us to your Heart.

 

How to prepare for returning to work – Your heart

 

Losing valued levels of physical and/or mental functioning can be hard. Your body and/or mind no longer do what it used to do. What you need it to do. What you want it to do. It can feel like your body has betrayed you. And that you are at war with it. You may be feeling very angry.

You feel like you are no longer you. But you also know you are you. You can feel so contradictory. Your heart hurts.

It’s important to acknowledge how you are feeling. To give your feelings some expression, to spend some time with them. As I’ve said previously, you don’t have to unpack and live in those feelings forever and ever. You just visit. And the length of that visit is up to you. If how you feel can feel overwhelming, get support from someone who can help you spend a little time with the feelings to understand what they want to tell you.

Picture of person coping with unpleasant feelings

You don’t have to unpack and live with overwhelming feelings.

 

Also, speak gently and compassionately to yourself. You’ve been through a lot. It’s ok to move more slowly, to do less, to not do things as perfectly, to not achieve as much. Focus your energies on the things that matter to you.

Your heart will thank you for this. And you will feel better.

 

How to prepare for returning to work – Your body

 

Finally, it’s important to gently prepare your body to return to work. Returning to work after an extended period of probably not being very physically active can be very draining physically and mentally.

Think through your typical work activities and ways you can simulate them at home. The purpose of doing this is to really feel how you your body copes with them and learn where your limits are.

If you are returning to work gradually, for example, 3 days a week for 2 hours each day at the start, set up that routine at home.

Make sure you get up at the same time you will need to when you return to work. Wash, get dressed, eat. Go through that routine to see how your body copes. Set yourself activities to do in the time frame you will be at work – say 2 hours of paying bills, work on the computer, some errands (if you can do them), a bit of light cleaning, tidying, calling people.

You can simulate a meeting. For example, meet a friend for coffee and notice what it’s like for you to get to the coffee house, visit with your friend, deal with the noise around you and being in public, and return home.

Do these activities at different times of the day to see how your body responds.

As you do this, notice how your body feels. Do you feel really tired? Do your symptoms get worse? Or do you find the activities distract you from the symptoms? Do you find it doable? Or too much? Do you find you cope better in the morning or afternoon?

This will give you an idea of what your body is capable of and the tasks you can and may not be able to do back at work. Of course, what you can and cannot do may change the longer you simulate work activities at home and then when you are back at work.

Before returning to work, get your body ready by simulating your work routine at home. You will learn how your body copes, its limits, and what adjustments you may need back at work. Read more about it here. #returntowork… tell a friend

 

What does this all mean for your role at work?

 

After having simulated your work routine at home, think of your work environment. First, think about the physical environment: how furniture is arranged, is it open plan, do you not have a desk, the lights, getting to the different areas within the office you will need to go, etc. Is there anything there which may be an obstacle? Do you need to make a request for a reasonable adjustment? I wrote about what reasonable adjustments are last week and you can read more about that topic here.

Also think of the non-physical aspects of the environment. Does your work have a recommended time frame by which they expect you to return to work full-time? How flexible can that time frame be? (The after effects of illness and injury don’t often work to others’ time frames including your expected time frame.)

What is the culture like? Are your teammates helpful? Is your line manager understanding, and their line manager? And HR? Do you have people at work who can help you look after your interests, whether formally or informally? What support will you need? How will you manage the pressure?

I appreciate these are a lot of questions so take your time in thinking them through. I have just a few more questions about your role at work

What tasks can you currently do, cannot do at the moment, or you may no longer be able to do ever? This is important to consider because if you have an idea on this, you can communicate this to your employer at the appropriate time to help them help you return to work. Also, if you cannot do the significant tasks in your role, then you may need to consider doing a different role.

Let me give you an example. I once knew someone who worked in a department store arranging their displays. They were affected by an illness which affected their balance and mobility. So they were no longer able to climb up a ladder. This significantly impacted their ability to do their role. They had to change roles in the organisation which did not require them to climb up ladders and carry heavy items.

If you think you are no longer able to do your current role, or only a part of it, are there other roles you could and would like to do in your organisation? You may not have to ask yourself this question, but I ask it just in case you do. I’ve had people say to me if they had only thought that there could be alternatives, they would have thought them through. So think through possible alternatives if that is what you feel you will need.

Prepare for returning to work

Questions to ask yourself as part of your preparation for returning to work after a serious illness or injury.

 

Those are my key tips how to prepare for returning to work after illness. All the very best with your return. And come back next week when I will be sharing what to say to whom and managing your own and others’ expectations at work.

 

What’s it like for you?

 

What key tips do you have to share with someone preparing to return to work after illness or injury? Has anything in particular worked for you? Or do you have questions about your situation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you are living with a serious health issue, which may be a serious illness or injury or chronic illness, and will soon be or have returned to work and would like support to ensure it is an effective transition, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

 

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