My daughter is an addict–in recovery. She struggles with self-injury, mainly cutting. She also lives with mental health issues and has been suicidal many times. We’re not strangers to emergency rooms, psych wards or rehabs. I’ve experienced a lot of stress. How can a parent cope?
Over the last ten years I’ve discovered a number of things that help me relax; activities to distract when I’m overwhelmed with worry; to uplift when stress, fear, and anxiety push me to the edge of my emotional capacity.
If you’re reading this blog you probably understand. You may be doing your best to cope with a lot of fear and stress that may not have anything to do with your child or grandchild. The every day trials of life can do this to us,too.
I’ve divided my list into two parts, fifteen activities in each. Today I’m sharing the first portion of my list. You’ll see a wide variety of ideas to try. Many are on the practical side. Some are more “spiritual”. But I think gazing at a sunset is “spiritual” because watching the brilliant colors spread across the sky makes me feel closer to God, reminding me of His greatness.
1) Listen to uplifting music (I like all kinds)
2) Take a walk
3) Ride a bike
4) Go outside and enjoy nature – walk on the seashore, go hiking in the mountains or woods. Enjoy whatever nature offers where you live.
5) Call a friend – keep a list of new people you meet at support group meetings, too
6) Read Bible verses (especially the Psalms) – search topics of interest and words like ‘comfort’, or read an encouraging book (see our website for some of our favorites)
8) Pray with someone (even over the phone)
9) Remind yourself of truth – Post index cards around your home with Bible verses or encouraging, hope-filled quotes (this includes inside your car!)
10) Relax by water – a pool, lake, pond, fountain, the ocean, or man-made water feature; the sights and sounds soothe the soul
11) Take 5 to 15 minutes to pull away from everything – Find a quiet spot, lay down (if possible) or lean back. Practice the three R’s – Rest, Relax, Receive: Focus on God and on receiving his love. Even five minutes relaxed me so much I fell asleep on more than one occasion.
12) Read a good book or magazine – for fun, not for work or related to anything connected with your child
13) Attend a support group meeting – Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or Celebrate Recovery (they also offer online groups)
14) Spend at least half a day alone – parks or retreat centers are nice (I go to a monastery with beautiful grounds.)
15) Skype with friends or family – helps you feel more connected
This Bible verse also helps me cope:
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple he heard my voice . . . He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me . . the Lord was my support . . . He brought me out into a spacious place . . . “ (Psalms 18:6, 17-19, NIV)