FEAR!! As we think about a support system, the word FEAR comes into play. Fear of what? Oftentimes, fear becomes prevalent in health issues. The greatest fear is of the UNKNOWN. An illness appears and our minds run rampant with questions and feelings.
- Feel anger
- Experience grief
- Develop denial
- Suffer shock
- Deal with plea bargaining
- Feel sadness
- Have uncontrolled outbursts of emotions
- Feel like crying at unexpected times
- Feel a sense of helplessness
How long will these feelings last? That is hard to predict because people are different and each react in their own way. One thing for sure, each feeling takes on a life of its own. It may be short term, or long term. Let me say how very important a support system is for any health issues you are experiencing. This is a time when you should not be a “Lone Ranger”. It is emotionally healthy to admit you need support and strength from other sources.
Develop a Support System:
- Find others who will pray WITH you
- Go to scriptures
- Learn to NOT hold feelings inward
- Learn to LAUGH – a lot! Laugh at yourself. Find friends who can laugh with you.
- Look for things that are funny – movies, videos online, etc.
- Avoid those who will drain you with stories of their own issues
- This is the time to glam on to those who will be a positive asset
Concerns and fears facing an illness: It is not unusual to feel like you are an island in your journey. You may feel:
- Loss of control of life and self-worth
- Loss of support from family relationships
- Uncertainty or future employment
- Financial uncertainties
- Adequate insurance benefits
- Facing your own mortality
- Adjustment to affects of illness and future limitations
Fear of Separation from
- home and family because there is no one at home to care for you
- family who no longer live close to be of help
- work that may seem uncertain as you have doubts about how long you will be absent
- security of normal routines
- other people who cannot understand what you are going through
- daily needs that may not be fulfilled
- the loss of what was normal and familiar
- the ability to deal with the “new normal”
As you are facing this seemingly terrifying territory, what are some steps you can take to help minimize your fears? One area that can be encouraging is to set goals.
A study in JAMA Network Open Looked at almost 7,000 people over the age of 50 and found ones who have a lot of goals and a strong life purpose live a lot longer than ones who don’t. (BottomLinePersonal, November 1, 2019).
I encourage you to set goals, write them down on paper, and revisit them periodically to measure what has gone well, what has not, and how you can improve the process. If you “ink it you will think it”. NOTE: any goals set should first be approved by your doctor.
Personal Example: When I went through cardiac rehab in 1989 following a 6-way heart bypass surgery, one of the goals I set was to be able to mow my own yard by the summer. As I was mowing one day, a neighbor saw me and came over to ask, “Didn’t you have heart surgery recently?” “Yes, I replied.” She went to say, “How can you be out mowing?” It gave me a great feeling to say, “I set some goals for myself during rehab, one of which was to be mowing my own yard by this summer.”
One huge fear I had when I first was facing heart by pass surgery was, I am not a man anymore and will never be able to live a normal life again. Cardiac rehab changed all that. My fears were realistic to me but NOT a fact of life. The process of addressing diet, mental challenges, and physical exercises gave me a whole new perspective about life. I was challenged to set goals using MARC:
Measurable: Unless you are able to measure results periodically, it does not mean much. You have to be able to see from time to time how you are doing and make adjustments as needed.
Achievable: Try not to set goals that are so out of reason that you feel defeated from inability to meet them. You should be able to visit and revisit so you can celebrate success. If a goal is not being met, you can determine what if inhibiting you from meeting it and adjust as needed.
Relevant: Ask yourself if the goal is realistic to your overall condition. For example, you may not want to set a goal of running a marathon event. Instead, set a short-term of walking a ½ mile, then extend it to ¾ miles and so forth. As you reach the goal, you can and should CELEBRATE!!
Controllable: As goals are set, during the process ask yourself if you are being realistic and what areas are within your control. For example, your doctor may not agree with what you have set due to concerns for your state of health. In other words, the goals may be too aggressive for your status, so you may need to not be push so hard.
One final note in this series of articles: TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR ENEMY!
So, who is your enemy? The word is defined as actively opposed or hostile to someone or something. It is anything that harms or weakens something else.
How can you fight your enemy?
- Turn the focus from yourself and turn it toward Helping others.
– Takes your mind off self
– Gives you a sense of PURPOSE
- Each evening, have a spiral notebook handy and write 3 things you are thankful for that day.
Benefit: Helps you focus on the POSITIVES rather than NEGATIVES
- Ask your doctor when you can resume activities.
Benefit: Helps you see yourself as being active once again.
- Have something to look forward to no matter how small. It could be a movie, dinner out, watching a special TV show, some type of HAPPY event.
Benefit: Looking forward to something positive brings a feeling of a happy time.
- Talk with people who have had similar experiences as yourself. Ask them what worked for them? What didn’t work and why?
Benefit: Sometimes talking with others makes you realize what you are going through is not unique or unusual. It can help knowing what you are feeling is “normal”.
It has been my pleasure to share these health tips with you. My prayer is, you have learned something or have been refreshed by what you already knew. If I have helped one person, it has been well worth the time to develop this series of articles. Good health and God bless ya real good!
If you have missed any of the other articles in this series, click below!