Four ways to help you bounce back

In this community we live in, the one skill we need more than any other is the ability to get back up.  We will stumble, fall and sometimes it will feel as if your bounce-back ability has left you for good.

Sometimes, the stumble is small and getting back on track will be as easy as taking our next breath; other times the stumble will be small but it will feel like the final straw.  Too often, it is the little things that will leave us face down, begging for mercy and wondering how on earth we will move forward.

As I read through the variety of posts on Facebook and Twitter, I see parents driven to tears, exhaustion and desperation.  I also see some lives destroyed and families left devastated by avoidable incompetence and pure neglect.  I then see those same parents and families being proactive and using that devastation to fuel their campaigns.

I see parents using humour to get themselves through the day and others just lurking in the background, not wanting to engage but needing to know that they are not alone.  I see parents blogging, parents actively running groups, parents leading social media groups along with parents offering tea and a shoulder to cry on, others offering support virtually and others helping to fire up a campaign.

Four ways to bounce back - Bringing Us TogetherWe all deal with stress differently; there is no right or wrong way to get back up.  We don’t have to bounce back with force, we don’t have to get up and start running; we can get up slowly, with support or we can stay down for a short time to recharge our batteries.

We will all face a brick wall, a hurdle, of some description; whether that be the system, the practitioners, our own families or other parents.  We all worry if people are judging us as we walk through this community – are we getting it right, do we know enough, do they think I am a good parent, do they really want to help me or are they trying to trick me?  It’s called being human and sometimes when we stumble, that fear of judgement can also keep us down.

So what works for you?

I have asked many parents this question.  Everyone is different and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.  For example, one of my friends goes for a run to help her to clear her head and to recharge her batteries.  Now, running is my idea of absolute hell – I was the girl who walked around the cross country trail (having a sly smoke) and if I am honest, it’s that idea of not having enough breath to talk which gets to me too.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, not being able to talk won’t work for me but my not talking may help those around me (or so my husband tells me).

Here are some of the top ideas that others have said works for them.

1.  Connection:  

  • Meeting up with a friend for a coffee and chat.  This can be a fairly flexible arrangement.  One friend explained that when she is in a place emotionally where she needs to get back up, the one thing she can’t do is get dressed and put her face on, so she organises meeting her friend via Skype.  She knows her friend won’t mind if she is still in her PJs with dirty hair and they have a coffee as they chat virtually.  She also admitted that this can involve wine and not coffee when done one an evening and said this feels like a night out.
  • Know who you can call on at weekends.  Weekends can be really difficult. We think of it as family time so knowing who is happy for you to call them at weekend makes a big difference.
  • Getting into a chat via Facebook – sometimes we can’t go out and meet up with a friend but connecting virtually and having the chance to off load can really help.  If you are worried about all your friends seeing what you post, then either edit your privacy settings or join a group of like minded people.  We have a Facebook group and some use it to just sound off, knowing that the people in the group will have been there and understand the emotions.

2.  Emotional:  

  • Write it all down.  Journalling is a really therapeutic way of dealing with emotions.  Writing everything down, whether it is in a private journal or an online blog can often help.  Sometimes seeing things written down (and getting it out of your head) can help you to make sense of what the next step needs to be.  When thoughts are jumbled in our heads, they seem to grow and multiply; putting them down on paper can help to bring perspective.
  • Meditation works well for some people – there are several youtube videos out there explaining how to meditate and some offer guided meditation too.
  • Laugh – either a great DVD, a book that makes you laugh or just the ability to laugh at yourself and your reaction to an event.
  • Every evening, write down three good things that happened that day, or try “if I could do today again, I would change…….” or how about one thing that you are grateful for – be it a person, a skill, or anything that makes you thankful it is available.

3.  Physical.  

  • Start the Couch to 5K programme (NHS offer a free download to follow)
  • Dance – put some music from your youth on and go for it.  As the saying goes – Dance like no one is watching.
  • Walk the dog or if you haven’t got one, get those ear phones out and just walk
  • Google “work out at home” and get some ideas that don’t need to cost a penny
  • One friend cleans her house.  She puts music on and blitzes room by room.  Her husband knows when he walks into an immaculate house smelling of bleach and polish that she has had a bad day and needs to handle with kid gloves.
  • Swim.  Go with a friend and get physical and connection support at the same time.
  • Kick Boxing, Boxercise and similar are always a good way to help relieve anger and get fit at the same time.

4.  Mental

  • Grab a cook book and make something different, cooking requires concentration and involves all of our senses so you can’t sit and think of your problem.   Even if you believe you were born to be cooked for rather than to cook, the smell of burning and the sound of the smoke alarm all help you to focus on something different.
  • Angry Birds, Sudoku, Criminal Case, Candy Crush – all of these require a certain level of concentration (and if you are like me, they probably include the use of some bad language too)
  • Write the letter/rant you never got round to.
  • Have pen and paper next to the bed so as you lie there worrying about all the things you need to remember, you can write them down and clear your mind.
  • Remember what Francis of Assisi said “Grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”
  • Write down a list of everything you need to do and enjoy crossing them off.  We looked at this in our Paperwork Pandemonium and gave some tips in there.

There are many different tips and ideas on how to bounce back and over the next few months we will be looking at these in more detail.

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Debs Aspland

Mum to three great kids, each with a different SEN. Transplanted from the NW to the SE. Co-founder and Director of Bringing Us Together

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