Our kids only grow up once, and as overwhelming as food allergies can be, we don’t want their whole lives to revolve around their medical condition.
To find room in life for the things that really matter, we often have to remove the things that don’t. So, I’m hoping you’ll join me and resolve to learn to do less, and to make room in your life for the things that you love. Here’s where to start:
Worry less. Look at each issue you’re facing and ask: Can I do anything, within reason, to prepare for or prevent what I’m worrying about? If so, get to work.
For example, perhaps you have a nagging feeling every time that Grandma babysits because she hasn’t been trained to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and to use the epinephrine auto-injector. You can immediately take steps to address these issues.
However if you have trained Grandma, she has your child’s safe snacks and she knows how to use the auto-injector, then you need to let go. Literally, get out and do something to distract yourself or better yet, do something for someone else. When we worry, we’re focused in, on ourselves. Doing something for someone else puts our focus on them.
As author Eckhart Tolle recommends, ask yourself: “What is wrong now right now, in this moment?” Usually, it’s nothing. Worry is about the future. Recognize that by focusing on everything that can go wrong in the future, you ruin your time today.
Read less. On the Internet, that is. Be selective about what you read about food allergies and anaphylaxis. It’s one thing to share a true story to enlighten others on the dangers of food allergies, it’s quite another to devote hours and hours each week to surfing through terrifying stories about anaphylaxis tragedies.
Also, don’t waste your precious moments reading all those hostile comments that inevitably follow an online article on accommodations for food-allergic children. Life is too short. Instead, choose a few favorite sources for reputable food allergy news, and make sure you leave enough time to read something that’s for pure pleasure.
Say “Yes” less. The life coach Cheryl Richardson recommends that we evaluate the non-stop onslaught of volunteer activities, chores, invitations and distractions by using the “absolute yes” test. Before you add another activity to your calendar, ask yourself, “Is this something I absolutely want or need to do?” By saying no more often, you make room in your life for the things you truly do want to do.
Work less. I speak to allergy moms every week about how exhausted they are. It’s as if they think if they push themselves just a little bit more, they’ll get it all done and be able to relax. Newsflash ladies: You will never get it all done!
So give yourself a break. Even a 15-minute break can increase productivity. If the weather is nice, I might take a “time out” on my patio, where nature helps me get back on track. When I feel tired or too grumpy, I’ll head to bed with a cup of tea and my women’s magazine.
Another thing you can do is to “better” your most boring tasks. My friend Jennifer orders a fancy latte at Starbucks, where she writes out her grocery list and cuts the coupons she needs before heading to the grocery store. Now she looks forward to it.
Listening to your favorite music while cooking or doing laundry is a great way to “better” those chores – and 15 minutes of upbeat music lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone that we have to thank for our jelly bellies. So crank up those tunes.
Enjoy more. Find the time to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Don’t forget to take care of your body’s needs too – sleep more, rest more, exercise more and schedule in some enjoyment. What did you used to love to do? Perhaps it’s time to dust off the old easel, guitar or dancing shoes. Work before play? Forget about it.
Make sure your priorities for the year ahead include play and fun. One thing I’m certain of: you’ll be so glad you did.
Allergic Living magazine columnist Gina Clowes is a certified master life coach specializing in the needs of parents of children with food allergies. She is the founder of the online support group Allergymoms.com.