Keeping well while you wait

People tell us how hard it is to look after yourself while you are so worried about someone, and waiting for news. Below are some suggestions and thoughts from family members about what might help to keep well while you wait.

‘Be kind to yourself and each other. Keep healthy, you need your strength.’

Your needs come first and at this really hard time, getting through each day often feels like a struggle. Think about which things need doing, and which things can wait or be done by someone else. You don’t have to do everything. Don’t push yourself too hard. You don’t have to look after everyone else’s feelings. Think about who you need to look after. If you have young children or other people you care for, they will still be your priority. Try to look after yourself so that you can still be there for them. It is important to put yourself first, even if that feels difficult for you. Give yourself permission to say no and only do what you need to do. People will have lots of suggestions, some of them will feel helpful, but some may not feel welcome. It is ok to let people know what you need and how they can help in a way that feels right for you.

Sometimes you might have to be honest with people who are trying to give advice and maybe say something like: “Thank you for your suggestion, but it isn’t helping me right now.”

“Try to take a day at a time and do what you feel is best for as you will be given all sorts of advice which can be very confusing.”

Practical suggestions

If people are struggling to find the right way to help, try to think of some practical things they can do that will help you. People want to help. Some examples might be shopping, running errands, helping with children or pets, cooking food or making calls. You may experience feelings and reactions that don’t feel normal to you. They may even feel scary. Most of these feelings are normal when you are waiting for news of your loved one.

“There is no right or wrong way of coping, do what you feel is right for you.”

We speak to lots of people who tell us that it can be hard. Feelings such as guilt, anger, despair and dread are common alongside many others. It can be hard to enjoy things and often people say they feel guilty about doing things for pleasure. People may worry that others will see it as a sign of not caring or forgetting about your important person. We know it is far from the case. It is good to be able to take time to relax and celebrate the aspects of life that still seem manageable. You may not feel motivated to do things for yourself; it may be easier to focus on searching. You may live alone or feel isolated in your thoughts. People say that often others do not want to keep talking about the missing person. It is easy to feel left on your own in your worries. Some people tell us it is hard to go out of the house or take time away. It might be for fear that the missing person might come home or that it just feels difficult to see people out of the house. These and many other difficult feelings are common.

Things you can do

Here are some suggestions that could help you keep going and stay healthy while you wait;

  • Keep a simple routine. Wash and get dressed and make yourself a hot drink.
  • Keep moving. Even getting out of bed might feel like an achievement some days. It’s not always about exercise. Change seats, open a window, take a short walk.
  • Go outside. Try to get some fresh air.
  • Set an achievable goal. Something easy that you know you can do. It will make you feel you have accomplished something. Choose a chore that needs doing. Small steps will help you move through the day. Ask yourself, “what’s the next best thing for me to do?”
  • Eat. It can be hard to feel like eating or the opposite can happen, and you comfort eat too much. It is easy to get out of the habit of eating food that is nutritious. Don’t worry about it, just try to eat as well as you can, when you can. If people can go to the shops or prepare food for you, let them. If you can’t stomach a full meal, ask someone to shop for snacks for you or make smoothies or soups that are easy to eat. Eat small, but regularly.
  • Sleep. It can be very hard to get to sleep or stay asleep. This is a normal consequence of anxiety. Exhaustion through lack of sleep makes it more difficult to manage during the day and can result in feelings of depression and low mood. If it continues, you may choose to speak to your doctor to let them know that your sleep is affected.

Talk to us

Speaking to anybody about what you’re going through can be helpful. Your doctor will want to know how you are, and may be able to help, particularly if you have physical symptoms. You could connect with other people who have similar, personal experience. And we are here 24/7 to listen to you and offer support, for free and in confidence.

Talk to us