Bad days can happen for small reasons (like burning dinner) or big reasons (like everyone being home for the foreseeable future as a result of the coronavirus threat). In this episode, Sandra shares 5 ways to reset a bad day. Many of them take only a few minutes, but can totally turn your day around. She also goes deeper into ways to communicate to your body that it is safe again after a flee, fight, freeze situation (like she experiences when her son with autism has a meltdown).
Take a few minutes to listen to this helpful episode so you can face tomorrow with a plan for challenging moments!
Listen to Self Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver in your favorite podcast app or the link at the end of the show notes.
Quick links from the episode:
- Jesus Is Better Spotify playlist
- Unexpected Blessings Spotify playlist
- Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
- self-care for the special-needs mom Facebook group
This is self-care and soul care for the caregiver, and I’m your host—Sandra Peoples. To us, self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. We want to take better care of ourselves so we’re able to care for our loved ones who rely on us.
If you’re listening in real time, we’re all dealing with the spread of the corona virus and complying with the steps to keep others safe by social distancing. Here at our house, the boys are out of school through at least the beginning of April, and this is already week 3 of being home.
How to Reset a Bad Day
Friends, life at my house isn’t easy. Being out of our routine is especially not easy. But this isn’t our first season of challenging days. It happens every summer and every Christmas break. When we lived in PA, it happened every snow day. There was one year we didn’t have a full week of school from January until Easter! Every week there was a day off, a delayed start, or an early release. So I’ve come up with some ways that help me reset a bad day. I’m sharing them with you in hopes they will help you reset a bad day or come up with your own ways to reset a bad day! Let’s change our perspective and remember that a bad moment doesn’t have to ruin it all when we take any of these steps:
First, meditate on an encouraging verse. Last week on the blog I shared a check list for preparing for the effects of the coronavirus. The first thing on my list was to pick a verse to meditate on. This isn’t a gimmick—it’s the power of Scripture. Only Scripture can truly restore the soul, give wisdom, bring peace, and so much more. The one I picked is Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” I wanted to remember that we can trust Him in good times and bad, that he wants us to pour out our hearts before Him, and that He is our refuge. When it seems like a storm is raging around us, He is our safe harbor. When you need to reset a bad day or redeem a bad moment, choose a verse to meditate on!
Second, listen to a favorite song. My go to is actually the doxology. It starts, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow …” It’s a quick song, so I usually hit play and close my eyes, focusing on breathing in and out as I listen to the words. There are so many good songs to pick from. In the show notes I’ll link to a couple Spotify playlists of my other favorites.
Third, move your body (getting outside if possible). Can you take a walk around the block? Or do some stretches? If I don’t really feel like moving a lot (like when it’s really hot here in Houston), I at least get outside if possible. We have a swing that I’ll sit in for a few minutes. I may water my garden or outdoor plants. Even walking to the mailbox and back can help me break out of a funk.
Fourth, clean an area of your home. I’m not talking about the whole house. Just one small area. You don’t have to scrub the tub, but can you clear the clutter from the counter? Can you clean off your desk? Or reshelve the books that have stacked up around you? Or maybe even make your bed or start a load of laundry. That always helps me feel productive, which can reset negative feelings.
Fifth, text a friend. When I’m having a bad day, I sometimes think, Man, I wish someone would reach out and ask how I am.Instead of focusing on what I wish others would do for me, I do it for them. It doesn’t take long to type, “Hi! Praying for you today!” Remembering there’s a big world outside my house and that other people need encouragement too is a good way to break me out of a bad mood. If I have time, I might call my mom or use Voxer to talk to a friend. But when the boys are home like they are now, I can at least take a second to text a friend!
How to Recover after a Meltdown
Now that we’ve talked about five ways to reset a bad day, let’s talk about times it goes beyond just a bad day. Let’s talk about times when you experience fear or stress that makes your body react. I’m talking about those freeze, fight, or flee moments. As caregivers, we likely experience these more often than most people. Of course, our first response is prayer and trust in God. But He has given us wisdom on how to help our bodies calm down after especially stressful circumstances.
For example, my son James, who has level 3 autism, really struggles when he’s out of his routine. His anxiety is high, and for him that means obsessive-compulsive behavior and sometimes aggression and self injury. There are times his meltdowns scare me. But I read a book that shared how to help your body know it’s safe again. Let me share the information with you:
In their book Burnout, sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski talk about what they call the stress cycle and how to complete it. Your body responds to stress in three ways. But the stress cycle doesn’t end with fight, flee, or freeze.
They state: “You have to do something that signals to your body that you are safe, or else you’ll stay in that state, with neurochemicals and hormones degrading but never shifting into relaxation.”
They share suggestions for completing the cycle. Here are the ones I took note of as being helpful for me:
- Deep breathing
- Positive social interaction
- Affection (six-second kiss or twenty-second hug)
- Creative expression
You can choose any of these actions or use more than one. Do whatever makes you feel safe and helps your body reset.
Here’s how I might break the stress cycle after James has a meltdown
- Breathe deeply, telling myself everyone is ok
- Hug James, or sit next to him while touching
- Text my husband to tell him what happened (that’s the positive social interaction they are talking about)
Emily and Amelia write, “Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you. Wellness happens when your body is a place of safety for you, even when your body is not necessarily in a safe place. You can be well, even during times when you don’t feel good.”
I hope this info helps you like it’s helped me so many times! Let me end our time together in prayer. God, we know that we will have tribulations in this life, but you promise us that you have overcome the world and bring us peace. Help us to focus on that peace when we’re struggling. When we need help resetting a bad day, help us take those steps. When we need to complete the stress cycle so we can feel safe again, help us do that. Thank you for being an ever-present help in times of trouble. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Friends, I hope the info and suggestions I shared today are helpful! If you liked today’s episode, now is a great time to leave a review or give it a 5-star rating. There are literally thousands of caregivers like us who are home right now and may need to hear the helpful tips in this episode. When you leave a review and share an episode on social media, you are spreading the message of hope they need!
And remember that every week I’m sharing even more encouragement in my self-care for the special-needs mom Facebook group. You can find the link to join in the show notes for this episode at sandrapeoples.com/thepodcast
I’ll meet you back here next Monday for a new episode! Until then, I’m praying for you and your family!