In its simplest form, Saturday is recognized as the Sabbath in many religious traditions — a day of rest. Being Jewish, you would think I would be more aware of the significance. But like most people, for the majority of my life, Saturday was a catch-up day. A day to to fit in whatever I didn’t get to during the week — a workout, social commitments, catching up with friends/family, errands, grocery store, and the list could go on. While I always had good intentions of Saturdays being a day of relaxation, it admittedly was a day of “doing” where I would become so absorbed in my to do list that I often would find myself even more depleted at the end of the day.
So when I was diagnosed with cancer, Saturdays took on a whole new meaning. I typically had my chemo treatment on Thursdays which meant my “day three” was Saturday, which is often the day it hits most people the hardest. After experiencing 16+ of these Saturdays along with the perspective of hindsight, I realized I gained some pretty important lessons learned to embrace the present moment that I believe can be applied to everyday life.
1. Practice Stillness — Sure we could talk about the metaphorical stillness of being with oneself, but when you are sick there is literally the reminder to not move. And more importantly, being okay with that. These are also the times we need to rely on others and be ok asking for help. This is also an opportunity to practice a simple breath meditation
Tip: Try five minutes of stillness by simply focusing on your breath with an exercise a great teacher davidji calls “16 seconds of bliss.” Inhale for four counts. Hold the breath at the top for four counts. Exhale for four counts. Hold the breath at the bottom for four counts. Repeat at least 4 times.
2. Be Silly — I won’t deny that I became an expert at television binge watching during my healing journey. I tried to save my Saturdays for the more silly and lighthearted shows realizing I’d be drifting in and out of sleep. There is really no better feeling of relief than when you feel so sick and depleted and then laughter finds its way through you.
Tip: Get together with a friend or loved one who makes you laugh, or watch one of your favorite silly shows, or of course you can always watch silly videos on YouTube. The “Sisters” series of the Kloons gets me every time. Feel the laughter as it travels through your body and the moment of joy it brings.
3. Get Some Sleep — I was never really a napper and was always fearful that I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night of taking a nap. But when you are down and out, sleep really is the best antidote and listening to what our bodies need is often the best way to nurture ourselves. Sleep is also one of the ways our bodies releases stress (meditation is another).
Tip: Take a power nap. Studies show that 20 minutes can improve your performance and alertness without making you feel groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. So set your timer and embrace the snooze.
4. Simply Surrender – There is something quite powerful when we are able to simply let go and trust that everything will work out. I call these my shower moments – when it seems impossible to go on, but something inside deeper arises and we know we will get through. By acknowledging our fears, we give them permission to move through us.
Tip: Acknowledge something that seems completely out of your control, write it down, and feel its significance. Next, either rip it up, put it in a shredder, or burn it in a safe manner and honor that action of letting it go. What you are really releasing is your need to control the situation and opening yourself up for a deeper guidance and trust that you will get exactly what you need.
5. Stay Hydrated – For whatever reason, water took on an especially challenging taste during my treatment so I became an expert at finding the perfect water concoction. Water at room temperature, sparkling water no ice, water in a water bottle, ice no water, sparkling water crushed ice, etc. Regardless of the combo – it was always with a flexy straw. Whatever I needed to do, I was intentional about getting the fluids in me, because I knew the benefits it was providing by nourishing my body and flushing out my system. According to Mayo Clinic,an adequate intake for men is 13 cups and for women 8 cups.
Tip: If you struggle to drink water, try making it a practice to drink a full glass of water before each meal. Before you know it – you will way you will have consumed 3 glasses and you are also less likely to overeat at your meal because you will feel full.
6. Practice Self Compassion – We are all doing the best we can. In the words of the great Maya Angelou:
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better do better.
Embrace that there are times when you are going to screw up or disappoint – and that is ok. It’s also important to treat yourself to some indulgences every now and then with the things, people and circumstances that really mean something to you and bring you joy.
Tip: Next time you catch yourself being hard on yourself, think of how you would treat a friend, partner, child, pet or someone you really care about and treat yourself the same way. You can also send yourself a self compassion calendar invite to make it more actionable.