Self Care in Chaos

Life can be full of ups and downs. One thing is for sure, you can’t plan for life surprises!


A year ago the surprise was my husband’s open heart surgery. In May he had a significant change in his heart valve function that necessitated a trip to a larger hospital for testing. It was determined that he needed a valve replacement and it was going to be done in June. This was not a part of our summer plans! In every other way my husband was extremely healthy but a congenital defect in the aortic heart valve was declaring that it needed attention– and quickly!


I am no stranger to chaotic moments. Having a large family does that all by itself! 🙂 I have been through my husband’s major accident (resulting in a serious head injury), a child falling from our barn loft, another child’s autoimmune disorder… The struggle is to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves in the midst of the chaos. It’s easy to think “I’ll take care of myself when this settles down”. Exercise, eat better, drink more water, make sure I get enough rest–it’s difficult to keep everything going when chaos hits. Even the most disciplined of us can struggle when life’s routines are completely overturned.


I knew that I needed to be making sure that at least a few things for happening. Whether your chaos is something as unexpected and serious as heart surgery or a changing job or a cross country move, or a “happy stress” such as a wedding, birth of a child or big anniversary celebration, it’s still a stressful time that changes the normal daily today routines. It can throw us off of all of our good habits we work so hard to instill. It especially will toss out the ones that we’ve been struggling to make a part of our routine already!



The first area I want to address is eating.


I’m not talking about dieting. I don’t like the word diet anyway! 🙂 I’m talking about fueling your body well so that you can handle the stresses of a chaotic time. The hospital where my husband was at had a really good cafeteria but unfortunately I was always missing the hours when they were open. There was also a Subway, a wonderful salad bar, a yogurt bar and a place that sold pizza by the slice.


Chaotic times are not the times to be a purist about eating. At least not in my book! Obviously if you have food allergies and sensitivities that’s going to make things a bit more stressful for you. But even then you may be able to find some options. For example the salad bar that I mentioned had plenty of options that even those with some food sensitivities could have gotten something to eat. But the flip side is, sometimes we just don’t want to see another salad!


If you are an emotional eater, as I am, it can be very difficult because it takes planning ahead and intentionality as well as a bit of determination when things are on an even keel. When things go totally haywire then it’s much more difficult! Intentionality and determination go out the window because your energy needs to be channeled into a different direction so that you can deal with the stresses at hand. Survival is truly the name of the game! Planning ahead is certainly not easy when life hit you upside the head out of nowhere. If it hap

pens to hit you before you’ve had a chance to refill restock your refrigerator and cupboards, that can definitely make things challenging!


Have a plan for when chaos hits!


Going into this time I knew I needed to have a plan. When we came home from the hospital after my husband’s testing and diagnosis, while working on scheduling the surgery, I knew I needed to be thinking ahead about what I was going to do about eating. I’m blessed to have older daughters at home who do all the cooking. We eat a lot of home cooked meals, but I couldn’t take those with me. I had no way to keep them cold and no guarantee of a way to heat them up.


My mental energy was needed to be funneled into making preparations so that I could be fully there for my husband. I needed to get things squared away with my business. I needed to take care of some financial things so that I didn’t have to worry about those during the time of the surgery and immediately following. My husband also was making preparations to make my job easier for afterward when he would be somewhat out of commission. I did not have the mental or emotional strength to be planning ahead for my food as well.


My plan of attack was was to make sure that I ate something 3 times per day. I had been working on backing off of gluten and making some other changes, including slowly working on eating less sugar. During this time, however, it was not the time to be that strict with myself. Also, I obviously didn’t have as many choices. While I loved the salad bar, there were some days that the salad bar didn’t appeal. If it doesn’t appeal, guess what? I won’t eat it! Or I won’t eat enough of it to sustain me. So I gave myself permission first of all to just eat. Sometimes that meant catching something at a fast food place on the way home. I tried to make better choices but I just gave myself permission because I needed to eat. I knew that if I didn’t, once I got home I would be rummaging around for ice cream, bread, cookies, anything and everything that was not going to be a healthy choice to fuel my body and strengthen me during this stressful time!



In the next post I’ll share more of what I did to make sure I was eating and things I wish I would have done in preparation.


Are you dealing with a stressful or chaotic time right now? What is your plan of attack to make sure you are fueling your body well?



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