How to Help When Things Get Real

how to help when things get real

There’s been much made in the news about terrible things happening around the world, and rightly so. Families are displaced by wars, genocide goes unchecked in Asia and the middle east, and natural disasters cripple entire societies. When disasters like this strike, aid is organized, charities and religious groups scramble to the rescue.

But what about the smaller tragedies, those disasters that feel enormous and earth-shaking only to that one person or that handful of people you’re close to? The loss of a spouse through death or divorce, incarceration, separation from children, death of a loved one, violent crime, or even the loss of health or employment? Mental health problems can be simultaneously shaming and debilitating, with stigma driving the sufferers and their loved ones deeper into isolation.

When these things happen to someone you know, it’s hard to know what to do or what to say. The best most of us can do is politely offer help (knowing they won’t want to impose by actually asking us for anything), try to “be there” for them (whatever that means). We wish we could do more. We mean well. But we feel paralyzed by fear of doing the wrong thing, of maybe making things worse.

You can do something. It won’t change their life or make everything okay, but it also won’t be impossible for you to do, an they really will feel their burden being lightened, even if only a little. What follows are some suggestions to consider when someone you know has been through something traumatic or devastating.

All of these suggestions are just that, and you should use your own judgement to tailor these ideas to the circumstances.

Dancing hotdog
Give Hallmark the day off. Nobody really buys the schmalzy messages in overpriced gift-cards, anyway. But you’d be surprised what good a little laughter can do.

Send them something funny, something that might draw out a smile–a dancing hotdog GIF, a link to a cat video. But whatever you send, make it personal and private. Use a text message, Instagram, Facebook, whichever platform you prefer. Send one every day, or at least a few times a week. It lets them know you’re thinking about them without getting all sappy about it, and without drawing any possibly unwanted attention to their misfortune.

Logistics
Treat them to some food. Sure, it’s cliché to bring a casserole to the doorstep. But clichés are clichés for a reason. Someone who’s going through something terrible may struggle to do the basics. Modulate your strategy to suit how close you are to the person, but it might be greatly appreciated if you can help with the small stuff.

Have a load of groceries or toiletries delivered to their home.

An Uber gift card, or a parking garage membership can make all the difference, especially when someone is facing frequent hospital trips or have some other crisis that’s making transportation more complicated for them. Even if all you got them was a small pre-paid gas card, the gesture could make a big difference.

It’s easier than ever to send care packages to cover the little necessities of life. It’s both a thoughtful gesture that lets the person know they’re not alone while also relieving some of their troubles.

Shut up
Try to resist the urge to offer advice or be the shoulder to cry on, be someone to vent/rage to, be the one to offer advice. Numbness is a defense strategy that shouldn’t be trifled with, and might result in the person pushing you away–possibly even violently.

Besides, this isn’t about you and your role, or how you see yourself. Make it about them and what they need. Make yourself available and be ready to respond to their needs without needing to be asked, and without drawing attention to the generosity of your offer. Just be present and responsive to what they need.

Be present in every sense and just listen to them. It’s amazing what people say when you just sit quietly and let them express whatever they need to say at their own pace. This is harder than it sounds, so bring some imaginary duct tape to put over your mouth.

Thoughts and Prayers
Now this one kind of is about you. Pray about them. Think about them. You can tell them you’re sending them thoughts and prayers if you want to, but don’t just say it. It’s better to do it and not say it, than to say it and not do it.

Pondering their difficult situation will increase your compassion for them in a deep and genuine way. You’ll be more emotionally responsive to their needs. Side benefit: exercising your compassion in this way could even make you a better person long-term.

Life is hard, as you’ve probably figured out by now. No matter how immaculate our own choices may be, bad things will happen, even to you. If you’re paying attention to the needs of those you love, and are attentive, that builds you crucial social capital–a social savings account of sorts. You’ll build your network of emergency responders of your own, and make you better prepared to survive the encounter when death knocks on your door.

Choose the good life.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your brand and reach your customers by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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Know Yourself: 5 Body Myths

Know Yourself - 5 Body Myths

We talk a lot in this space about forging a strong mind-body connection. But an important part of that connection involves educating yourself about what your body really needs and how it really functions. Here’s a little uncommon sense about your body.

Sorry, but eating carrots doesn’t improve your eyesight
This is a bit of propaganda form World War II that worked a little too well. Great Britain had actually developed night vision, so the government spread the word among civilians that they could enhance their vision at night by eating more carrots. It’s not true, but the myth has persisted. Sure, eat your carrots, just don’t expect it to bestow super powers.

Stretching before a workout doesn’t prevent injury
Injury is may be less likely if you stretch before athletic activity (though even that’s still in dispute), but don’t let stretching make you think you’re invincible. Don’t get us wrong, stretching is good! It gives you optimal range of motion and ensures your muscles change and adapt with the most benefit and the least pain.

Fever? Cold? Feed both
The rationale behind the old saw “feed a cold, starve a fever” is that your metabolism is the source of a fever, which isn’t wrong. But when you’re sick, whether you’re suffering cold symptoms or a fever, feed you body with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eat when you’re hungry, and drink plenty of fluids.

Nosebleed? Don’t tilt your head back
It’s almost instinctive to throw your head back during a nosebleed to keep the drips of blood from falling, but resist the urge, and recognize that your mom as human and fallible as the rest of us. Tilting your head back can actually cause you to swallow or even choke on your own blood! Instead, hold your head level while pinching your nose just below the bony part until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding persists for more than a half hour or gets worse, get immediate medical attention.

Laugh at Star Wars and Victorian novels all you want, but you really can die of a broken heart
According to the American Heart Association, the links between mental health and heart health couldn’t be stronger. Broken Heart Syndrome is real, so act accordingly. Sure, eat a good diet, stay active, get plenty of sleep, but also nurture you closest relationships. They might just mean the difference between life and death.

Question your assumptions! Interrogate “common sense” just to be sure, especially when it comes to your health.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director of The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to build your brand with logo design and content marketing by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

How to Prepare Now for Holiday Stress

How To Prepare Now for Holiday Stress

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” -Anonymous

Holiday stress is coming! Are you clenching up inside? Stop! You’re not naive. This isn’t your first holiday season. You have a good idea of what stresses you’ll face, how your life will be disrupted. And yet so many of us talk about the coming holidays like it’s a natural disaster that couldn’t possibly have been predicted.

Why feed the drama? You’ve got this.

Get your priorities in order
You may have asked yourself, after a particularly harrowing holiday season “Why do I put myself through this?” It’s a valid question. Maybe the holidays hold great meaning for you. Or maybe you feel obligated because of family custom or social pressure. In either case, remember this: resentment is poison.

Whether you love the reason for the season because of family or religious commitments, or couldn’t care less, resenting the holidays will only punish you. It will sap your emotional stamina, and might even become the source of unnecessary family drama. We’re here to tell you that you have a choice now. You can just react to stress as it comes, or you can plan for it now and go into this stressful time of year prepared–and not only that, happy and ready to fully enjoy everything the holidays have to offer.

If you want no part of it, draw healthy boundaries for yourself and, without antagonism or anger, let your loved ones know you hope they have a great time, but that you have other plans. The worst thing you can do for yourself or others is to go into holiday events grudgingly or with a resentful attitude.

Plan for happy
Think ahead about the most busy times of the holiday season. There’s a list of things to do, events to attend, gifts and food to buy. It seems to go on and on. But why? Maybe it’s a good time to promise yourself to say “no” or “not this year” to a few things. Commit to bowing out of some things now before the social pressure is on; you’ll be surprised how easy it is to back out of some things you just don’t have room on your plate for. And as you go, remember: “no” is a complete sentence.

You can also plan to take care of yourself now! Scheduling your massages early and often is always a great idea, but especially during the holiday season. Our clinic gets busy this time of year just like any business, so seize this chance to grab the times you know fit into your schedule. Book online or give us a call: 425-243-7705. Set your reminders on your calendar. Then take a deep breath, and know that your self-care is one less thing to worry about squeezing in.

Maintain healthy habits
Now may not be the best time to pick up a new habit, even if your intentions are great. Your will power is limited, and there’s no sense in setting yourself up for failure during the holiday season.

By all means, though, maintain the good habits you’re already doing! If you already work out, get regular massage, do yoga, meditate, or eat healthy foods, it’s more important than ever to stick with it. Letting go of your good habits will throw off your equilibrium on days when you’ll need it more than ever.

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to polish your “BUSY” badge of honor and go into the holidays proudly miserable? Or are you going to plan ahead and be thankful for whatever comes?

I know what I’m picking.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to build your brand through social media design and strategy by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com