caregiving

The Power of a Smile

Ever feel like your world is crashing in on you? That everything you touch turns to shit?

I’ve felt like that so much lately.

I’ve been trying to help my aging parents and it’s incredibly frustrating. I hate to see how much my parents have declined. My mom has dementia and can’t dress herself or do much of anything else. My dad’s health has been getting worse and his abilities to help my mom is decreasing as well.

I do as much as I can to help… which unfortunately isn’t much. Living on the opposite end of the state makes it difficult.

My oldest son and I, recently spent 5 days at my parent’s house. I am so happy that he was able to spend time with his Papaw, provide comic relief, and give lots of hugs for Gramma. While I was busy going through loads of my old stuff, my son spent his time drawing and playing with their dog.

Five days of sorting, cleaning, lugging crap to the donation center, talking to insurance, taking my mom to appointments, arranging home care, and helping with anything possible. Pretty much, the only “downtime” I had was the 5 hour drive back home. But at least my son slept most of the time and I got to listen to Mel Robbins’s new audiobook “Take Control of Your Life.”

Fitting title… right?

After returning home, the next 48 hours consisted of the following shit storm… a leak in the basement, moldy carpet removal, our geriatric cat peed in the living room, ants moved into our kitchen, and I forgot my wallet when I went to the grocery store.

Then a zit popped out on my chin.

Enter the Power of Positivity!!!

Turning a frown upside down is not easy. Being a positive person takes a lot of work… Especially when your world is crashing around you.

So What Did I Do???

I vented. I vented to some friends, my husband, and even this blog!

But now it’s done. I have to let it go. Carrying around a “why me” attitude does not serve a purpose. It’s not going to help me function. It will only continue to bring me down. And make me crave chocolate… Not good for the zit.

I so love this Jimmy Fallon skit from SNL!! Totally how I felt about my zit!

To help me change my state of mind, I use my favorite grounding technique. Here’s the steps…

  • Wherever I am, I focus my attention on the chair or couch that I am sitting on. Just kinda feel it holding me… supporting me.
  • I hold that moment for about 10-20 seconds as I slowly begin to even out my breath.
  • I then shift my attention to the floor that is supporting the chair… Then to the earth that is supporting the floor. I am not holding things down by my weight… I am being supported by the ground beneath me.
  • Then, I smile.

Smiling activates some positive neurotransmitters to be released; serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These natural, “feel-good” chemicals can lower heart rate and blood pressure. This is greatly needed when stress is high.

Forcing a smile feels weird, especially in difficult situations. But the benefits feel much better than moping and feeling sad.

So anyway, my stress is not gone. Tomorrow will bring another tornado of events. That’s what life is like right now. I’m dealing with elderly parents while caring for young children. I can’t expect anything to go as planned and need to be ready for the unexpected.

The best way for me to get through this time in my life is to ground myself in the moment, realize that I am doing my best, and smile.

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