While growing up my mother used to remind her four children of positive ideals with this little ditty “April showers bring May flowers!”
Then she would add the riddle, “If April showers bring May flowers, what do ‘Mayflowers’ bring?” One of us kids would smile and proudly answer, “Pilgrims!”
Like any good parent, Mom tried to help us see beyond the disappointing rain and know that good things still come after storms and other challenges. She also taught her children that we were natural-born leaders, and that we could follow in the footsteps of our bloodline from our father’s New England pilgrim heritage and her pioneer roots on the Western Frontier.
My mother took every opportunity to share stories about various people and cultures who struggled with tough life-challenges and overcame them with grit, prayer and perseverance. Her example and teachings helped me, as a painfully shy, skinny little redheaded gal, become less anxious and more courageous to truly embrace life. Today, I adore public speaking (crazy, I know) and my grown children tease me that I jabber too much.
Over the years, I looked for available and affordable ways to help manage my stress and worry levels, especially when our darling fourth child, Heidi, was born with Down syndrome, and then a few years later, also became autistic. With never-ending worries, constant physical fatigue, concern over finances, and emotional heart-aches for my family, we bravely smiled and faced the storms of life. Today, I’m grateful we’re all stable, happy and healthy.
If you have someone who has ill health, a syndrome, or special needs in your circle, you probably have already experienced some heavy storms. Perhaps you’ve been drenched to the skin and don’t know how to protect your loved ones from this challenging, yet rewarding realm.
Today, I offer practical, tried-and-true concepts to build a symbolic umbrella of support with “stress-buster concepts” that can help protect anyone from the small rain showers to the serious lightning and thunder storms of life.
Basically, we need to make choices beyond simple right and wrong. In today’s hectic society, there’s a ton of great things to embrace, yet, we need to strive for balance of mind, body and spirit. The four legs of my chair are mental, physical, spiritual and social — and if I really pursue one area while neglecting others, it gets real wobbly.
“Elayne, stop, look, and listen … to your heart,” I remind myself.
I use the acronym STRESSED to teach my “Stress-Buster Umbrella.”
1. S is for Simplify: Do this wherever you can, such as clothing, schedules and especially clutter. Teach your children that even when they have great opportunities, we can’t “do it all” — so carefully decide which activities you really can handle. Countless teenagers are caving in to negative behaviors because they’re overscheduled.
2. T is for Talk: Communicate or write about your various stressors. It is amazing how well it helps simply to put situations into words. See what can be delegated, improved or dropped. Remember that an occasional cry also releases stress. (Yes, guys, that means you, too.)
3. R is for Recommit to your priorities: When important aspects are back in line, you feel more peace — no matter what evolves. (So, your son may have put a dent in the new car, but at least he’s safe.)
4. E is for Exercise: This is a phenomenal stress-buster. Make sure you actually perspire, and please drink water.
5. S is for Sleep more: Statistics indicate 96 percent of Americans are not getting enough sleep. Our bodies and nerves heal when we’re asleep. If you’re under a lot of stress, (and who isn’t) sleep is vital, and naps “sharpen the saw.”
6. S is for Solitude/Sunshine: Peace and quiet is something important, but rare, for most. Find, schedule, or steal some time every day, so you can really relax and listen to the whisperings of your heart. I love simply sitting in the sunshine, and feel it’s not a waste of time; I feel soothed, recharged, and got some free vitamin D.
7. E is for Eat healthy: It’s easy to grab junk food or fast food. But, remember: “You are what you eat.” To be happy, healthy, and able to endure the long-term, we all need various fresh veggies, proteins, and good quality vitamins and supplements. My hubby and I really like healthy frozen berry and greens smoothies or juicing raw fruits and vegetables.
8. D is for Deity: Statistics regarding cultures with a firm belief in God, or a higher power, indicate it’s a great strength to their families. I think it’s vital, and sometimes, it seems like it’s all you’ve got, yet it’s very real. Faith, prayers and meditation has inspired, united and empowered people over the centuries.
At times, I wish life was easy-breezy, but an ancient Arabic proverb reminds me: “Too much sunshine creates sunburn and deserts.” Hopefully, we, as a people, can grow through our various challenges, just like grass and trees grow more strong, beautiful, and potentially productive from rain and snowfall.
Together, we’ll weather it all, finding gratitude, dancing in the rain, and enjoying the sunshine. We’ll marvel at the rainbows afterwards. I’ll help you, and you’ll help me, right? Right!
Elayne Pearson, CAS, Special-needs Preparedness Specialist, is an award-winning writer and speaker. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and check out www.hiddentreasuresofhealth.com