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My Nighttime Routine For Emergency Situations

The summer of 2019 was the most stressful time of my life. I put The Dude (my elderly uncle and Ward) on hospice, sold his house on an emergency basis to keep him on memory care, preplanned his burial arrangements, spent a month fighting various entities to keep his agonizing end of life pain under control, visited him nearly every day to check on his pain levels, and then we buried him.

This precipitated a scorched earth retreat from my most basic priorities around sleep and rest. All of my energy and attention went to his needs. None of this was great, but I (re)learned a few things along the way.

Double down on structure when things are going poorly

Major life events bring a powerful temptation to just keep doing things. After all, if something major is going on shouldn’t our activity levels keep pace? Well, maybe? Sometimes? Not really?

There are always things to be done, but that tractor beam pulling you to scurry around wearing yourself out, that’s a stress response. That call is coming from inside the house. Eek!

Here are the main moves that got me through

  1. Eliminate caffeine or other stimulants as early in the day as possible. I moved my deadline up to 4PM.
  2. Try an early bedtime. It felt ridiculous going to bed before dark, but it’s what I needed.
  3. Do what you can to reduce even minor pain before going to bed. Time spent applying topical numbing to my neck, elbows, and SI area paid off.
  4. Reduce emotional irritants. I cut out most news. It wasn’t going to help my family. And I didn’t have the energy to watch anyway.
  5. Save as much energy as possible. You’ll need it later. I do most of my chores during the afternoon and evening. Since that’s when I feel my best. I limited my housework to essentials like laundry, putting out the trash, and doing dishes. We ate a fair amount of take-out, packaged meal replacements, and other convenience items.

Don’t neglect your senses

Three years managing The Dude’s dementia care reminded me that our environment and mood are linked. Sometimes, a few beautiful things can make a difference. And, even if these things don’t change everything, you still deserve something pretty.

  1. Sleep teas are popular for a reason. They to help me wind down. Something about the taste and smell made a difference.
  2. Give warm lights a try. The flicker of a warm light flameless candle on my side table improved my mood a little bit. These things are everywhere. The technology has improved too much that the battery-powered LED “wick” gives the impression of a flame. A flame that’s okay to fall asleep on.
  3. Surround yourself with what helps you to feel cozy and safe. I’m a fan of a well-made bed with soft fleece blankets and chill sounds playing on my phone. Using the sleep timer helps save the battery life.

What helps you get some rest under difficult circumstances?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AnkylosingSpondylitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Lawrence "Rick" Phillips moderator
    4 weeks ago

    I am a big big fan of two things. Exercise and Sheryl. The two together keep me going.

    Dawn, I hope your stress has been decreased a little bit. Please take care !!

    rick – moderator.

  • Lisa Marie Basile moderator
    4 weeks ago

    I love this piece! I also found tea and dim lights to be cozy and intimate. And honestly, it may not directly impact pain level, but when you feel safe and soft and good, it impacts your mental wellbeing.

    I also loved this: “Reduce emotional irritants. I cut out most news. It wasn’t going to help my family. And I didn’t have the energy to watch anyway.”

    I recently wrote a piece (it just came out here) about eliminating stress, and I’m convinved that only allowing so much cortisol is one of the keys to my feeling better here and there.

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