Sometimes life throws you a massive curve ball.  You’re coasting along nicely then, boom!  It’s like a slap in the face and you are left stunned.  My husband suffered a severe, life-changing stroke in 2016.  And our world changed.  All plans for the future thrown into disarray. Sound familiar? 

After the initial shock you have hope.  It’s ok.  We’ve caught it quickly. We’ll pull through together and be back to normal in no time.  Then despair.  It can’t really be that bad can it?followed by anger as your new reality sets in.  Why did this happen?  How?  And then acceptance of the changes as you start to make new plans.

My health, mentally & physically suffered.  Our children were sitting O levels and final IB exams respectively in a few months and had ‘lost’ their Daddy.  I suffered anxiety and panic attacks for the first time in my life and was exhausted spending my days travelling across London in order to spend it at my husband’s hospital bedside, praying for a miraculous recovery, before returning to let the dogs out & feed the cat.  Some things remain constant. 

This is what I learnt then, and am relying on now during these uncertain times in the hope that it will help you too.

  1. Ask for help.  This may seem obvious but if, like me, you are used to being the one others turn to for help, then it can be hard to reach out and admit you are struggling and you need some help or advice.  It takes courage and is not a sign of weakness.  In fact, it is the opposite.  It shows strength of character.  So be brave.  Ask.
  2. The value of friendship.  I could not have coped as well as I did without my friends and family rallying around for the tears and the laughter.  The poor jokes.  The worries and concerns shared, the meals out and glasses of wine.  They really helped me to hold it together and I will be forever grateful. Stay connected.
  3. Daily movement.  Getting outside in the fresh air helps clear my head.  The benefits of daily movement are not just physical ones. It provides mental health benefits too, vital if you are suffering from low mood and anxiety. Take a daily walk. Get moving.
  4. Yoga and meditation.  My go-to for easing my stress, making me more connected and aware and helping me to sleep at night.  I use a guided meditation and frequently practice gentle yoga in the early evening.  If you are not into yoga try doing gentle stretches and deep breathing.  Give it a go.
  5. Cooking.  Now I never thought I would say that.   This is a girl who could burn a salad! Our food choices affect our mood. Eat junk and you’ll feel like junk.  Stress weakens our immune system making us more susceptible to illness so it is essential to eat a healthy balanced nutritious diet.  I have learnt to love my kitchen.  I am still a work in progress but if I can manage to produce a simple, yet delicious and nutritious meal then you can too.  Look up some recipes for inspiration, play some music, awaken your senses and get cooking. 

Exercising, eating healthy and practicing self-care is a lifestyle.  You need to be able to help yourself first before you are able to best help others.  The biggest take-away I can give you: