Finding that last breath of strength beyond what you thought was possible

Tapping into hidden strength can be summoned when you least expect it.

As a young person, I have always thought of myself as shy, weak and easily lead. Admiration would wash over me every time I saw someone outspoken and stood up for what they believed in. I was petrified of even having an opinion – let alone expressing it. Becoming an outcast and demanding other people’s attention was not my intention, so I stayed quiet and out of the way. Life as a funny way of nudging you out of your quiet space – or more so, pushing you over the water’s edge and forcing you to learn how to swim. My first attempt at building strength began in the gym. After that, I went from being a weaker link to someone that grew to be strong and confident. As you start to build upon your self-belief – knowing you can and will lift the weight you want – eventually, that mindset begins to affect your life in more ways than one. As you start to quash all of your negative self-beliefs in strength capabilities, then the outside world becomes a lot easier to conquer. Some of the most trying times in life are those in which you have to find that last drop of inner strength when there isn’t anything left to take. I know that feeling all too well now. When my mum was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, every month that progressed saw me exhausted, drained and unable to find the energy or stamina for even the simplest things. Cooking my meals, let alone being here for my family, was a stretch. So was working long hours to meet all my deadlines whilst sitting in a hospital room with three other terminally ill people – it was tough. The most heartbreaking thing you could ever watch is your parent slowly become weaker and weaker. As I look through old photos of mum and how she used to look – I can see just how much cancer has already taken away from her. Although it’s tough to find inner strength when you are tired, I have discovered a few strategies that have helped me deal with the emotional pain of my current situation. Although it’s not a foolproof cure, the steps are achievable for anyone who wants to keep pushing through emotional and mental anguish daily. Most of us in situations where we must deal with a terminally ill family member – there is no choice in the matter. We have to find ways to help us cope better and lead a semi-normal life as best as possible.  Step one: Schedule some self-care time every day.If this is only realistic for one hour or 10 minutes – make the most of it. You spent that precious time unwinding in any way that resonates with your inner wellbeing.It could be going for a stroll in the sun, calling up a friend for a chat, drinking a nice, warm cup of tea, taking a warm bath or a go for a swim in the ocean. But, this one thing your soul calls out for you to do is revitalising and will initiate more strength inside of you. During this time, if emotions or particular self-talk comes up – acknowledge and accept that for what it is. Don’t try to suffocate it with denial. Instead, let it come out in whatever way it needs to – be it crying, sadness or an emotional outburst. Now is the time to have it out with your emotions, and in due time, they will pass. 

Step two: Exercise is essential to maintain.

I prefer lifting weights and power walking. Some people love yoga or running. Whatever it is, do it more often. Schedule that time for your health. Think of it as an investment in your mental health and wellbeing. Sure, it will take a bit of time – but you are worth it. That time is well spent on you – the most beautiful person in the world. 

Step Three: make the time to nourish yourself properly.

As easy as it is to divert towards junk, or fast foods for that matter – this strategy will leave you feeling tired, drained and moody. Instead, pick live foods which will nourish your soul and increase energy levels. Think of green smoothies, fresh salads, high protein sources like eggs, chicken and seafood. If you are vegan, beans, lentils, and nuts will be your best accompaniments. Energy is required to gain strength in physical and mental clarity. So keep feeding yourself well, and you will have an abundance of both. 

Step Four: Talk to someone you trust.

I love to check in with colleagues, friends and family members when I can. It’s pretty easy to isolate yourself when things are tough. But, in my case, bothering other people with my problems and challenges is a stretch. You aren’t bothering people at all (something I need to realise too). The ones who love and care for you are worried – checking in to see if they can help without sounding nosy and suffocating. Help them out a bit by touching base with them first and starting a conversation. We all need someone to turn to – even god or whoever you believe in. Speak with someone, and you may find clarity or have an insight. When we are in the moment, we can get lost in confusion. The people who love us can help steer us back to where we need to be. 

Step Five: Take a short break to refresh.

Maybe you need a day or two off work, perhaps a day just for you. Once you separate yourself from something draining or challenging, you come back refreshed and revitalised, ready to get back into the trenches again. If you can’t have a full day, why not half? That’s still enough to do some unwinding or catch up with another person. Although it can be challenging to do some more than others, I encourage you to make an effort in putting the most important one as your daily habit. If we show self-care and love towards ourselves, we build and regenerate what’s missing within. Keeping a part of ourselves nourished allows us to tap into unknown strength for challenges, and it’s within those challenges that we become resilient. We must always fill the well with goodness to keep taking out of it. You can’t get much from a dried-up well. Remember that.

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