Posts Tagged ‘housework’

What To Do When You Just Can’t Do It All

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Over the years that I’ve coached people with chronic illnesses, more than one person has told me that they just can’t do everything they’re supposed to. Usually it’s a woman who will tell me that, probably because more women than men are afflicted with several of the more common chronic illnesses, and because in a typical family, women have more responsibilities than men do.

A typical story one of these women will tell me is that because of all she has to do for her medical care, taking care of their children, doing the shopping and errands, cooking for her family, etc., etc., and because of the fatigue and other symptoms she suffers from, she can’t keep up with the housework. Then she’ll say she feels even more stressed than she already was because she feels like she’s not doing everything she “should” and because she finds living in a messy house stressful.

Obviously she could ask other family members for more help, but she will typically say that doesn’t work. There are ways to make asking more likely to be successful, but I’m going to leave that discussion for another post.

I wish that there was a website that sold magic wands that really worked, so that these women (and occasionally men) could quickly and easily clean their houses and do everything else that needed doing, but unfortunately, no such website exists. And I don’t have any magic words of advice that will make their situations all better. But I think that people in stressful situations like the one I’ve described will find the posts titled “Acknowledging That Things Suck Can be a Good Thing“Bill Clinton said it,” and “A Million Dollars Worth of Ideas to Make Your Life a Lot Better” helpful.

Another way for finding the best solution for a difficult situation or problem is to write about it in the third person. In other words, if Mary has chronic fatigue and her house has become a mess–at least by her standards, she would write “Mary has been feeling very stressed because she’s exhausted and hasn’t had the time or the energy to clean the bathroom in three weeks.” She would continue to describe her situation in the third person, rather than writing “I’ve been feeling very because I’m exhausted and I haven’t had the time or the energy to clean the bathroom in three weeks.”

The reason writing in the third person in this way is helpful is because it depersonalizes our story and allows us to detach from it. Once we do that, we are usually able to see changes we can make and things we can do to improve our situation that we couldn’t see before. We are much more likely to see activities we can easily give up, ways to combine errands or other possible solutions.

I hope you find this idea helpful. There are other steps a person in the situation I’ve described can take to lessen their stress and improve their sense of wellbeing. I’ll write about them in another post.

A Million Dollars Worth of Ideas to Make Your Life a Lot Better

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

This post was inspired by a woman in an online support group that I participate in.  Carol (not her real name) wrote to say she needed to vent because her house had become a mess. Because of a flare, she wasn’t able to keep up with the housework, and her husband played computer games instead of helping out (he had been choosing computer games over helping with housework for several years). The first idea that came to my mind was that  they should find a marriage counselor, although I don’t know their  relationship issues so I don’t know if that would help.

But here’s an idea that I think would help. Maybe it will also help you, with whatever illness related problems you are facing. Imagine that I have a million dollars to give away. To win that money, all you need to do is think of  good ideas  to make your life better. For every one you think of, I will give you $50,000. Just one small catch: the ideas can’t cost more to implement than you can afford right now. Even with that restriction, I bet that you could win a lot of money from me – very likely the entire $1,000,000.

I think you’ll agree that in the sitation I just described, you would think of many ideas to make your life with a chronic illness better – and if you agree, then we both know that you can come up with many good ideas for improving your life. I encourage you to give this game a try, because even though the prize money is imaginary, the improvement in your life that you will experience will be very real.

If Carol gives this a try and shares her results, which I hope she does, I’ll let you know how she does.