When Your World Is On Fire

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How do you keep up your healthy lifestyle when your world is on fire?  Everyone has busy and chaotic lives. We’re all juggling jobs, household responsibilities, kids homework, kids activities, volunteer rolls, caring for aging parents, etc, etc. But I’m talking about when the usual daily craziness blows up into straight-up disaster. I’m talking about even before the corona virus pandemic and the stay-at-home orders affected everyone around the globe. In my world, that just added fuel to the fire.

I’ve talked before about my daughters struggles with anxiety but since she started middle school in September, it has escalated beyond my and my husbands ability to manage it on our own. I won’t go into a lot of detail because that’s not what this post is about but lets just say there has been panic attacks, meltdowns, medication, lots of doctors appointments, a large chunk of missed school, lots of school admin meetings and discussions about whether more intensive treatment was needed. I attended over 20 doctors appointments in 4 months time.

Needless to say, this completely disrupted our normal family life. When your kid can barely get herself out of bed in the morning without having a full-on panic attack or starts to hyperventilate if she has to think about getting dressed, it makes it really hard to stay motivated to exercise and make a healthy breakfast and prep your meals for the day, let alone the week or beyond. 90% of my mental and emotional energy was put into managing her immediate crisis situation. The last 10% was reserved for my other daughter (my son was away at college at that point). Which meant there was nothing left for my husband or myself. It was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. I had no energy or desire to do my regular exercise routine even though I knew it would probably help.

As this crisis situation turned from a few days into weeks, I knew I had to get back to caring for myself before I completely fell apart and then my husband would have two people to take care of. I wasn’t eating well. I was barely sleeping and I definitely wasn’t exercising. I decided that this was just our new normal even if it was a long term temporary situation. So how could I work with it to help my daughter but still help myself? 

  1. Instead of getting takeout or delivery too often because I was too exhausted to cook, I planned super simple meals and had groceries delivered. We don’t eat fancy meals to begin with but I made it even simpler than before. We ate a LOT of pasta and grilled cheese sandwiches! Not ideal but better than a drive through or pizza delivery.
  2. I gave up on exercise because I didn’t have time to complete my program the way I had written it for myself. But just because I didn’t have the usual 45 minutes didn’t mean I couldn’t do 15 minutes of something. I tell my clients this all the time but somehow it wasn’t sinking in for me. So, I scrapped my regular exercise routine and just walked or ran on the treadmill when I felt like it. Running has always been a way for me to mentally focus so when I let go of the “pressure” of a training plan it was actually easier to fit exercise in.
  3. As I had to continue to attend multiple doctors appointments and meetings, I started taking more control of when I was scheduling them. When my daughters crisis first started I was panicked and took whatever appointments were offered whenever I called. That meant I was taking her to appointments at all hours of the day regardless of my schedule. Once I calmed down and realized this was not a medical emergency like an accident or broken bone or something, I could wait a few hours or a day or two for an appointment at a more convenient time. I started trying to schedule appointments on the same days of the week which helped me feel a little more in control.

I know it’s hard to maintain a healthy routine in everyday craziness but we all know how important it is. But when your world is on fire, some semblance of health can be a lifeline. If you feel like things are seriously out of control, manage the crisis first. That’s the priority. But try to get back to your healthy choices, even if they’re limited or modified for now, as soon as you can. Let go of your usual routines and expectations and just do what you can. You’ll get back there eventually.

This is an ongoing situation for us. My daughter will never be “cured” of her anxiety. She will simply learn how to manage it so that she can function. Hopefully. In the meantime, we’ve adjusted to a new normal and my healthy living program has pivoted accordingly. 

Happy Exercising my Fit Friends!

P.S. I hope everyone is finding ways to stay active and release stress during the stay-at-home order. Message me if you have questions or need ideas for home exercise. I’m here to help.