When illness, death, or another of life’s crises strikes, most of us crave normalcy; we want to once again feel in charge of our lives. What do you do when life feels like it is spinning out of control?

My family knows that in times of difficulty one of the first things I do is load the washing machine. The very act of washing the clothes, folding them, and placing clean laundry in drawers and closets brings a sense of order to my life. But I don’t stop with the laundry. Dishes are quickly washed and dried or placed in the dishwasher, newspapers make their way into the recycling bin, and the purr of the shredder can be heard. If life is out of control, I will do whatever I can to pull it back. And when the house is orderly, I feel greater strength to address what has spurred all this action. It is easier for me to draft to do lists, make phone calls, set up appointments, and take action in my now more controlled environment. And these actions are just the beginning of my coping strategy and adaptive routine.

Everyone faces difficulties in their own way. How can you feel more in control when your life isn’t?

  1. Ask for help
    Friends, neighbors, and congregants are eager to help but they need to know how and that’s where you come in. Communicate your needs to others whether it is grocery shopping, meals, or transportation support.
  2. Delegate
    Your partner, child, sibling, or best friend may not fold the laundry, load the dishwasher, or make the bed the way you prefer but fewer tasks will free you up for the harder stuff. Delegate whatever and whenever you can.
  3. Hire helpers
    This may be the time to hire the neighborhood teen to rake the leaves, mow the lawn, or watch the kids to ease your workload and stress level.  
  4. Seek support
    Support is everywhere these days. You can find online groups to ask questions and vent frustrations. There is a proliferation of local support groups as well. Check your local newspaper or do an online search.

Whatever your preferences, use the strategies that will help you navigate during these difficult and unsettling periods. 

photo credit: via photopin (license)

Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.

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