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Chasing adventure & living mindfully while parenting through mental illness


5 Mantras For Sick Days

5 Mantras For Sick Days

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Our family recently went through a bout of stomach flu. It's totally my fault - I was bragging right before that we hadn't dealt with a whole-house stomach flu for a long time. That's karma for you. For me, I would take all the colds and coughs in the world, nothing is more the embodiment of suffering like a stomach flu. I am a total wuss when it comes to nausea.

Any kind of illness increases your vulnerability to mental health relapses. After all, physical illness represents the first two tenets of maintaining PLEASE skills for emotional regulation in DBT (more on PLEASE skills here). And January means we are right in the middle of sick season!

I find mantras really helpful for getting through difficult times. My mind often defaults to negative and sabotaging self-talk. I find mantras a quick way to redirect it toward positive and grateful cheerleading.

Here are 5 mantras for when you're feeling under the weather:

  1. This is happening to my body, not my spirit.

I don't know if it is just that particular kind of misery the stomach flu brings on, but keeping a mindful separation between my spirit and my body helped me deal with the symptoms and keep my anxiety in check. It kept my thoughts from turning into negative self talk.

Despite knowing it's wrong, despite being outwardly positive, I have a mean inner voice that will sneak out and tell me that, somehow, my illness is my fault. That if I was stronger, I'd be able to get through it. A bad stomach flu can bring even the toughest person to their knees,

2. The only way out is through.

Some sicknesses just have to run their course. You just have to trust that each moment is a moment you don't have to live anymore. I was the third one in our family to get sick, so I could literally count the hours and know I was roughly half or 75% through.

This is also one of my favorite mantras for anything tough. It got me through an epidural-free birth (that I was not expecting!), so it also reminds me of my strength in that moment. One of the blessings of mantras is that they remind you of other times you use them and reinforce your resiliency.

3. Rest is best.

As parents, we need to remind ourselves of this. There is a weird competitive misery that permeates our current burn out culture. If you aren't burning the candle at both ends, if you aren't crushing your goals, then you should feel guilty. Not only is that an unhealthy mentality in general, it is particularly self-sabotaging when you are sick. So ask your partner to take a sick day. If you're single parenting, then feel no guilt about being lax on usual standards. Remember, if your kids are fed, clothed, relatively clean, and know they are loved, then you are crushing it as a parent.

4. Do what you can when you can.

Sometimes recovery is two steps forward, one step back. Your body may start the day ready to catch up on chores. So you make your list and start to tackle it, only to find that midway through you're ready to zonk out. Listen to your body! If you need a rest, you need a rest. If you feel a little better, fold a few pieces of laundry, or unload the dishwasher or play some blocks with your kid. But take it small task by small task.

5. This too shall pass.

A classic parenting mantra. Remind yourself that this is short term. You will feel better eventually. This may not apply, obviously, if you live with chronic illness. Chronic illness is not something I have experience with, so I cannot speak to these mantras helping. If you live with chronic illness, I would love to hear any mantras that help you!

I am so glad we are better now. Sickness took us out for a week, and then it took another week to get everyone back to their routines and healthy mindsets. Hopefully that is the last flu for us for awhile!


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