Unfortunately, stress is something everyone can understand. We all have stress in our lives and most likely we would all say we have too much of it. Left unchecked, stress can begin to affect both your mental and physical well-being. October has been designated as National Emotional Wellness Month and this week's blog provides some helpful ways to learn how to slow down and breathe.
While emotional wellness is important for everyone, it is critical for parents and families of children treated by The Valerie Fund. A pediatric cancer or blood disorder diagnosis presents new levels of stress for parents and families and it is imperative that everyone be as healthy as possible - physically and mentally - throughout this process.
Here are some helpful ways you can begin building your emotional wellness in small but meaningful ways every day.
1. Develop and set realistic goals for yourself, your family, coworkers, and those around you. Frustration can build quickly when unrealistic goals are set and then, unsurprisingly, not met. Everyone end up annoyed (or worse) and that kind of damage can build up over time. Establishing attainable goals and communicating them thoroughly sets the table for success and helps you feel fulfilled, helpful, and engaged.
2. Along the same line, try to keep realistic expectations of others and, more importantly, yourself. Hoping for an idealized outcome will only make the realization that it isn’t coming sting all the more. Make sure to be as realistic as possible when dealing with others be it family, friends, coworkers, or anyone you are interacting with. As much as
we always hope for the best we must be prepared for something else, otherwise, we begin to beat ourselves up or become unduly angry at someone for something they may not have even known they were doing.
3. Part of learning to create realistic expectations is learning how to release anger and resentment. Many of our negative responses come from previous moments of anger and resentment that we have held on to. It is very easy for many of us to hold on to and focus on the negative emotions we encounter but these have a cumulative effect over
time. If you can let some of these emotions go and focus on the positive ones in their stead you will begin to not only see the world in a different light but also be happier yourself. The first step for most people is acknowledging that you are not in charge of the behavior or thoughts of others.
4. it is a good idea to surround yourself with positive people. Humans are social creatures and we learn from each other all the time whether we’re conscious of it or not. By spending time with people who are already positive and upbeat, there is a greater chance that you will begin to inherit some of these traits. As time goes on, it will become just as natural for you as it is for them to focus on the positive and, while still acknowledging the negative, making sure to keep yourself calm and upbeat. It might be helpful to form a group of other positivity-focused TVF parents since they'll know exactly what you are going through and you can all lean on each other.
5. When you are spending time with these optimistic and effervescent people, you’ll find yourself laughing more which is an overall mental and physical health boost. Research has shown that laughter can ease pain, boost your immune system, relax your body and mind, as well as relieve stress. All of these changes can begin to snowball and work together to make you feel lighter and happier on a regular basis.
6. If you feel frustrated that some of these are not working and you just can’t get past a wall that’s in front of you, talk to someone. Many of these tools are new to people and may not come naturally so talking to someone you trust (be it a partner, family member, friend, or professional therapist) can sometimes help you see your situation from just different enough of an angle where things begin to click for you. There is nothing wrong with finding help outside of yourself if it still gets you to the place of happiness and health.
Stress is always going to be a factor in our lives and many of our Valerie Fund families have more than their fair share of stress but it is important to focus on yourself when possible. Staying healthy and positive is only going to mean better things for your child, your family, and yourself. The psychologists and social workers at your local Valerie Fund Center should have resources available to help you with these goals. They are there to heal the entire family as your child goes through this process.
While your main impulse will tend to be to do everything you can for your child, you must take some time for yourself as well. After all, if you are not healthy yourself then how can you give the best care possible to your child? Taking just small moments in your day to practice some of these tools will help you make them a regular part of your life which will only benefit you and everyone around you.
The goal here is not to remove stress from your life. No one can fully remove stress from their lives and that is especially true for The Valerie Fund kids and parents. Emotional wellness is about the ability to be aware of our feelings and not deny or shove them away. It is about embracing the positive while still acknowledging that the negative exists. It is enjoying the parts of life that should be enjoyed despite the disappointments, frustrations, and hardships that can - and will - arise.