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5 Lessons From Having An Ill Family Member

5 Lessons From Having An Ill Family Member

Illness is a part of life. People are born, grow up, strive to be healthy, but there is always a chance that illness will strike at any given moment. Regardless of what condition it is–cancer, mental illness, hepatitis, and so forth–illnesses do not discriminate and do not care about interrupting your obligations. But living and coping with a chronically ill family member can definitely make you a stronger person, and that’s why we’ve compiled this list.

1. When your family member falls ill, you learn who your real friends are.

We all have friends that are there for very specific purposes: there’s the guy you play video games with, the girl you shop with, the friend who you work out with and know from softball, and so forth. But when your family member’s illness acts up, those people tend of fall by the wayside. While it’s not intentional, the people who you’ve trusted and depended on in past hard times will stand up and make themselves known. Pay attention to who is around when your family member is down and out.

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2. There’s a reason why doctors are said to “practice” medicine.

I’m not saying in any way that doctors are not valuable. I just want to be clear that not all doctors are equal and not all of them should be listened to as if they are gods. Doctors are people just like you and me–albeit highly-educated people–and that should be taken into account. When your family member’s illness acts up, you should keep in mind that their treatment team are merely “practicing” medicine. They aren’t “winning” at medicine or anything else. Just practicing.

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3. Nurses are the life blood of every hospital.

On television shows, doctors get all the fame. House, Doogie Houser, Grey’s Anatomy–all these shows glorify doctors above all else. But, by becoming familiar with how various hospitals work, I’ve noticed that the nursing staff is the most vital part of making sure your loved one’s illness goes away. From delivering medication to making sure they’re comfortable to communicating patient needs, the nurses are the hands doing the work in the hospital. They are willing to stand for twelve hour shifts for days on end just to ensure your family member gets better. Pay them the respect they deserve.

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4. You learn who your loved one really is.

When faced with a chronic or life-threatening illness, your family member can react in one of a million different ways. Sadness, anger, paranoia, joy, frustration–these emotions are all to be expected. In fact, your family member has every right to act up in the fact of their illness. But pay attention to what becomes their baseline emotional state, because you hardly get to see someone’s personality when they are backed up against the wall. The person your loved one is when they are in the hospital is the person they really are. In a way, it’s a treat that you get to see that person. Many people never have the opportunity.

5. You learn patience.

There’s no other way to say this: hospitals take forever to do anything. Doctors have to be consulted, labs have to be examined, specialists have to be called, residents have to be instructed, pharmacists have to be stocked, and so forth. Before my family member became chronically ill, I’d bet I was the most impatient person around. But in asking for and waiting for care to be delivered on “hospital time,” I’ve learned a fair amount of patience. Now, don’t get me wrong, when it takes five hours to give my father a Tums just because it’s New Year’s Eve, I will come very close to a shouting fit. But I won’t go there. Because everything will be solved eventually, even if it is on hospital time.

Featured photo credit: OF-Nascimento-Isabelle-380/Felipe Manfroi via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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