Tag: UIO: Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out

Accessing Your Power Toolkit In the Eye Of A Storm

If I could magically make all hurricanes, cyclones, tropical storms, tsunamis disappear, I would do so instantly, and I am sure I’m not the only one. With an onslaught of activity pre-season and during season, I am feeling a bit frazzled to be honest.

Last night as Hurricane Michael battered the very city where my father and all of my sisters and most of my nieces and nephews reside as well as many relatives, I felt anxiety get its grip on me. Having been in touch with my father via FaceTime until the lights went out literally, I quickly gave into the dreaded anxiety.

But instead of remembering that it all starts with a menacing thought, I just kept on thinking and second guessing whether my family would be safe or not, whether Albany, Georgia, would even be a city by morning. Thankfully I only focused on one city, though you might say this was selfish thinking, when so many lives were and still are at risk. But let’s face it, I am only human, and it was this focus that kept me from a complete melt down. Imagine if I had thought the Florida panhandle, Southwest Georgia and so on would be totally ruined, how my night might have gone. It could have been worse.

Make no mistake about it, it was bad. After a bit of frustration with the delayed progress of CNN and The National Weather Channel, I happened upon the local television station—WALB. Viola! At last I received consistent communications and interestingly my thoughts begin to calm down. It was in this instance that I, from the outside, could see how bad the storm, if you will, actually was and could then send my family, who are held up in secure areas of their houses, text messages telling them that though the Hurricane was still dangerous, it had gone from category four to three and then to two.

And when I got a few pings back, I had a big sigh of relief but not quite big enough. But it was enough relief to access my power tools for abating anxiety, which was well on its way to panic. The first tool for me happens to be prayer and it works a jewel but to be able to pray peacefully and mindfully, I have to do a bit of practical preparation, which leads to the second tool—shutting down my devices. How very practical.

You might remember in Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out that guest Nicola Morgan suggests signing off at least one hour and thirty minutes before going to bed even in the best times. And here I was in the worst of time, glued to WALB on my iPad. It was nearly 2 a.m.

So, I sent the last text to Daddy and sibs and off the devices went but admittedly, I did stash them nearby instead of in another room as advised. Then I commenced to prepare my mind. In our latest podcast, Rising Above Odds, Hannilee Fish talks about the importance of mindfulness, staying in the moment. So tactfully and gently I reminded myself that I was in London, England, in my bed and not in Albany, Ga, and none of these horrible things that I feared had actually happened.

And only then did I remember a hot tip from Eleanor Segall, our guest, from our second podcast, On Undiagnosed Mental Illness—talk to someone, don’t keep the stress bottled up. I looked over at Paul, who seemed asleep and decided against talking to him, so I talked to God. Good idea and found myself being grateful for the strength to support my family during a stormy time and the actual mental and physical capacity to take care of myself. Off to sleep I went if only for a couple of hours.

As I reflect upon the episodic night, I am so grateful to the women of UIO for sharing their experiences, the good and the bad. What a wonderful tool box to go to in the time of need. So glad I had it not only at my finger-tips but in my thoughts, too.

And the biggest lesson I learned had to do with managing me when I had no control of managing Hurricane Michael, precisely the tip from Cat Williams, guest of our next podcast coming up in late October, On Dating Inside Out. Author of Stay Calm and Content No Matter What Life Throws At You, Cat knows a thing or two about keeping cool in the eye of a storm, okay so I wasn’t in the eye, but it sure felt like it. Stay tuned!

Don’t Forget To Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask

As I listened to some touching stories on the morning news of young people who are caring for adult loved ones (thousands are doing so) across England and Wales, I was reminded of how serious the business of caring really is and the impact it can have on well-being both physically and mentally.

Thankfully I didn’t face being a carer until I was nearly fifty after my father-in-law died and my mother-in-law came to live with us. Make no mistake about it, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

And though my husband insisted that we hire a carer to provide support, I took care of her primarily, night and day, and since then have been coined the most qualified unqualified nurse for miles around, looking after my mother until she died, with the help of siblings and a care team, and now I’m definitely one of the key carers in my father’s corner.

Like young carers, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to care for loved ones.  At times I have found myself doing little else but offering care, whether that is researching an illness as well as healthcare, spearheading communications with family members and care providers, managing special diets from making menus to cooking, cleaning, liaising with medical providers to schedule appointments and sadly starting a fire or two along the way, if you will, to get something done, and snuffing out others that have been unhelpful to the cause.

It’s an exhilarating yet exhausting responsibility to be a carer. On the one hand, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to help create a better quality of life for my father, to give back to him, to keep him as healthy as possible for as long as possible. On the other, I don’t like talking about the exhaustion; it seems to defeat the purpose.  It feels a bit like moaning.

But here is the thing, it is crucial to mental well-being to take care of one’s self, even while caring for others. Make no mistake about it: I am not offering a green light for complaining and having a gripe session about all you do and so on. But what I am saying is don’t forget to put on your own oxygen mask  first! Without it, you cannot care for another.

In all of my care responsibilities over the years, this has been key to avoiding emotional tiredness, sadness, depression and even anger and frustration. But what does it mean to take care of one’s self while taking care of another?

Surely, we are given strength to rise above feeling tired or having needs, if only for a short while. We are not! Many carers find this out the hard way, making full-time care their norm and only fitting in living as and when they can to their own detriment and  risk becoming disgruntled or worse yet, ill. But take a few tips from me; there is a happy medium!


  • Shed the guilt. It is dead weight not only for you but also for the person you are assisting. Everyone needs self-care. You don’t need to feel guilty about understanding the importance of self-care.
  • Eat right, otherwise, both mental and physical health are compromised. So, while making a meal for your loved one, make one for you too. Avoid the crisps and soft drinks on the go. And the chocolate, too!
  • Get some sleep and that means more than a wink or two here or there. Sleep is so important to feeling refreshed and to thinking as Nicola Morgan points out in UIO: Your Online Wellbeing Inside Out.
  • Accept help! Sometimes it seems like no one wants to help, but most family members, neighbours and friends can and are willing to do something. They can’t always commit on the level you can, but many people are willing to pick up groceries, come around for a visit, take your loved one to a doctor’s appointment and so on. Also, don’t forget about the charities that offer support to carers.
  • Take a break! This is often called respite care. For me this came with having a carer come in, freeing me up to do other things. For others it has meant giving their loved one an opportunity to do something social perhaps during a day programme or something similar.
  • Live life! Don’t allow the wonderful concept of caring to rid you of living. Being altruistic is a good thing and makes us feel good about life, but if that is all we do, without reference to living, it doesn’t feel altruistic anymore. So remember the space you are in and that caring doesn’t have to be all-consuming. It can be a wondrous experience, creating precious memories and a lasting bond between you and a loved one.

In the meantime, remember taking care of yourself is like putting on your own oxygen mask first in the event of an emergency. It can be the difference in a healthy experience for both you and your loved one.