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"Helping loved ones with fortitude" by Michelle Hamel (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Flickr.com (2008), All rights reserved.[/caption] It's not easy when the people you care about are struggling. Most of the time, we can't solve anything for them. All we can do is be there with them in the struggle and encourage them. My husband, Jay, has always worked very hard to support our “super-sized” family. For the last 15 years he has worked his full-time job as a physical therapist and also worked a per diem job to make sure we had everything we needed. For the last several months, Jay's per diem job has been going through a lot of changes because it was bought out by a national company. There have been personnel and leadership changes and all the challenges of learning a new computer and billing system. It's been very stressful for him. I knew that this transition time was going to be challenging and would take a while to resolve. I wanted to be supportive. I knew this time would be an opportunity to walk with Jay through a difficult time. I could help him carry this cross of change in several ways. (These ideas work well for anyone going through a stressful time! Not just for husbands.)
  1. Pray.

No surprise here. Obviously our first line of defense in any difficult situation is prayer. I prayed for fortitude and peace for Jay and for myself. I knew I needed extra grace to be able to be more loving and patient during such a stressful time. The ability to give more of myself wasn't going to come from sheer grit and determination. I know that no matter how good my intentions are, if I'm not tapping into the true source of Grace, my ability to support and encourage anyone will not last very long.
  1. Encourage Self Care.

When life gets stressful, making sure that basic needs get met is so important. Eating healthy food, getting enough rest, and taking some time to exercise to get those endorphins flowing will help to combat stress naturally.
  1. Limit Stress in the Everyday Duties.

Jay and I have a phrase we use when life gets challenging ...”circle the wagons.” When life feels like too much, we try to cut out anything that isn't necessary. Only the bare necessities get left on the schedule. Everything else gets delayed until life goes back to our “Normal Chaos” pace. House projects get put on hold, extra social commitments need to be pushed back, and anything that isn't essential to keep daily life manageable gets put on the back burner. Limiting stress in any way I can is my focus. (In case you were wondering, my “essential tasks” are laundry, dishes, and cleaning the toilet! Well, laundry and dishes, and asking Jay to clean the toilet!)
  1. Create an Atmosphere of Peace on the Outside So They Can Rest

When our stress is high and our emotions all over the place, it creates a lot of inner chaos. It's so hard to relax when our emotions feel like a tornado inside of us! Whenever I have inner chaos going on, it magnifies the outer world chaos. If someone is going through a tough time, having a living room (or a bedroom) that is tidied at the end of the day so that you can relax without “outer-world chaos” can make the inner chaos easier to deal with. Trying to relax and recharge at the end of the day is important, and having a peaceful area makes it a little easier.
  1. Encourage Them to Stay Positive.

It's easy to get discouraged and start seeing all of life through “dirty windows.” (Another saying Jay and I use.) There's often a fine line between venting and a pity party. (I admit that I wear that “pity party hat” all too often!) It's easy to start seeing everything in a negative light when you're working through a stressful situation. It's important to try and stay positive when a loved one is going through a hard time. God is always working. Trying to help our loved one to see all the small graces sprinkled throughout each day can help to give them a more positive perspective they might have missed otherwise.

What are some things you have done to help loved ones through a stressful time?

Copyright 2019 Michelle Hamel