By Mary T. Kelly, MA
Even when things seem as if they couldn’t get worse, there are still good things to look forward to. A sturdy and loving partner is one. Stepkids who pitch in with cleanup is another. A house that’s warm in winter, a sun that shines all day—the list goes on. Today, I want you to be grateful for each and every positive thing that comes your way.
And, if ever there was a time to start a gratitude journal? This is it! The tips below will help you think, pray, lean and otherwise get through whatever’s going on that’s not so amazing. Because, at the end of any day, being intentional about what we focus on helps us live more fully in the present moment and worry less about what’s entirely out of our control.
Think: It’s Temporary. If you’re anxious, I get it. But take care not to overwhelm yourself with thoughts like, “When will this be over? And what if (x, y or z) happens?” What if and when will thoughts only make us more anxious, so come back to the present and remind yourself that everything is temporary. This, too, will pass. It will! Try three deep belly breaths: In, out. In, out. In, out. This is a stressful time for kids too, so get your whole stepfamily involved in this one.
Pray, for All Our Sakes. Pray for those affected. Scratch that. Pray for everyone! It doesn’t matter what prayer looks like to you. The intention is the same. Those who are sick, suffering, exposed and vulnerable: Pray for them, light candles in their honor, send positive and loving thoughts into the universe. Extend similar prayers and thoughts to those you love and yourself. As a bonus, focusing on others will keep you from getting mired in the tedium of being holed up at home en masse, as a stepfamily, with no apparent escape.
Lean Into the Discomfort. This is where “taking it one day at a time” is powerful advice. We so often try to get rid of discomfort when we’re in it. We want it to go away and go away now! This virus will pass but probably not in the immediately foreseeable future. Accepting that reality and living in today (this very hour, this very moment) will ease that discomfort. Learn to say, instead: “Well, yes, I’m uncomfortable. Who wouldn’t be?” Then move on and get stuff done.
Limit Your News Intake. Fear is no one’s friend. Plus, stress and anxiety lower immune system function. Yes, I find that reminder anxiety-producing—but it’s true! Reduce fear by protecting yourself from 24/7 coronavirus coverage. Too, be selective about the sources you turn to. Seek out stories of strangers who are helping others in this unprecedented time. One of my favorites is a video of Romans standing at their windows, singing their national anthem in unison. [Editor’s Note: Keep scrolling to read Part One and Part Two of this series.]
If being a stepmom is harder than you imagined, you’re not alone. We’re THE HOW-TO GUIDE for any woman who dates, lives with, or is married to someone who has kids. Join us today. We can help.
MARY T. KELLY, MA, is offering 15- and 30-min. stress reduction and survival sessions for stepmoms at a reduced rate during these challenging times. For details, visit her website at RealStepfamilies.com or email her directly via Mary@RealStepfamilies.com.