If you are not overworked and extremely busy, you are probably the exception and not the norm. We are all guilty of this; we overextend, overachieve, and overstress ourselves to the point of breaking, especially those of us who are caregivers. Often we don’t realize the extent to which we are hurting ourselves, mind and body, to say nothing of the impact this has on the care we provide. Here are a few tips to keep you sane and healthy.
It is so easy to become upset when things do not go our way. From the moment we spill our coffee, have a disagreement, or drop medication, a spiral of circumstances can set us off into a tailspin of negativity. We can choose to stay in that state of discontent and let that dictate our day, or we can choose to be grateful for the good things in our lives, even if those “good things” are not present in front of us at the moment.
Have you ever noticed that when something nice happens, we tend to smile for a moment and then move on, but when something goes wrong, we feel the need to tell everyone and anyone who will listen? It is in those moments that we need to focus on what we are grateful for to help pull ourselves up from that discontent.
Keeping the focus on gratitude offers our minds something to smile about, which is always welcome, regardless of our circumstances. Focusing on people, places, and things that make us grateful, gives the mind the quiet respite it needs to stay healthy and to recharge so that we are prepared for whatever the future has in store.
Schedule Time for Nothingness
Most of us have busy schedules, especially if we are working outside the home and caregiving as well. In fact, we often set our schedules to overflowing and then complain that we do not have time for ourselves (guilty!). Ironically, even when the universe conspires to give us that time, say in the form of a traffic jam or waiting for someone who is running late, we become irritated that our time is being “wasted.”
Could it be that we cannot tolerate idleness, and that we find ways to fill our schedules to avoid these moments that we find uncomfortable? It is in these moments, however, that we get the space we need to breathe and to let go.
Take a good hard look at your schedule and see what you can delete and what you can delegate. Do it now. If you are going to have a healthy mind, you need to take care of it just as you would your body. One cannot function healthily without the other.
One good tip for quieting your mind is to put it on your schedule. Give yourself 10 minutes. Put it in big red letters in your calendar, and text yourself a reminder. And when the time comes, turn off the distractions (your cellphone, laptop, television, etc.), close your eyes and do NOTHING.
Take a Moment
Anticipating the future tends to plague us as caregivers because we want to be prepared for whatever may come. This practice, though, causes us to anticipate disaster at every turn, increasing our stress tenfold. While being in the moment may sound cliché, there are great benefits to practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. – Psychology Today
Try focusing on what you are doing at the exact moment you are doing it. In this way, you remain in the present and not two days from now. Being mindful allows you to treasure those fleeting moments with our family and friends, and to find joy in those simple tasks that we might otherwise miss.