Whether it’s a relationship breakdown, the death of a loved one, or your house burning down, there are things that you can do to keep yourself safe, sane, and healthy as you take the time you need to look after yourself, heal, and figure out what your life looks like now that it’s changed.
In this article, I’m going to outline a few things you can do in the short to medium term to ensure that you get the support that you need from yourself, your loved ones, and from services in your community.
It’s easy to let a normal routine slip in the aftermath of a life changing event. Suddenly, keeping on top of bills and mail doesn’t seem so important, but routine and things that keep on going regardless of your circumstances can be a good lifeline to the outside world, and neglecting them can also cause larger problems down the line and make getting back on track feel like a gargantuan task.
Try to take a quick break from all of the commotion to sit down with a cup of tea, and a friend if you’d prefer the help, and take stock of the things that you normally do to keep things running smoothly. It’s okay if it seems like a lot right now.
Take a look at the things that wouldn’t matter too much if you put them on hold for a few months. Make an appointment with yourself in your calendar, diary, or phone to revisit this list in three months, and then remove those items from your list.
For all of this talk about removing things from your plate, also take a moment to recognise how much you do to keep yourself active and feeling like you are capable within yourself. A certain amount of things going on help with keeping a routine, help with your self esteem, and help with a sense of achievement and that time is moving forward.
There’s lots of things that can be automated in this day and age. Make some automated payments for your bills so you don’t have to constantly keep on top of them. If there’s something coming up that requires multiple steps, set a reminder for each of those parts so you don’t have to keep that process in your head.
Routine is really important during this time. There’s nothing wrong with setting alarms to remind yourself to eat, shower, or put the bins out. The goal here is to reduce the amount of energy it takes to get all the basics sorted so you can spend your energy on doing the things you need to do to stay safe and healthy in the aftermath of what has happened.
I know it’s hard to have other people help with things you feel like you should be able to handle yourself, or even things that you can handle yourself.
There are probably people around you who have said something like “let me know if there’s anything I can do”.
Not “let me know if there’s anything you can’t do” and not “let me know if there’s anything I’d enjoy doing.”
If there’s something they can do, whether it’s picking up some milk, bringing over a meal, a school run or folding some laundry, ask them. Take things off your plate. You’re not taking advantage of anyone, you’re not being lazy, and people who love you want to help you.
If you’re feeling a bit frazzled about delegating, ask a friend to manage the people who want to help, or to set up a private Facebook group so people can sort things out amongst themselves.
If you’re in a position where you can afford it, you can also pay others to do almost anything. There is absolutely no shame in getting a cleaner, or asking a dry cleaner to manage your laundry if you’re not finding the act of doing it helpful.
If everything feels too much, and you don’t feel like you can take the time and space to help you keep on top of things, there are a range of professionals that you can enlist for help.
Counsellors aren’t just for talking about your feelings. They’re a great resource to use as a sounding board, and can spot and help you address things that you’ll need to manage in the upcoming months.
If you’re in the Newcastle area, Hunter Valley, or Central Coast, we provide counselling and support services that will come to your own home to help you and your family with this process.
I hope that you’ve found this article useful, and have a few ideas about things that you can do to look after yourself in the coming weeks to help you stay on track.