am not an expert on creative caregiving and health or awareness of a caregiver’s needs. I submit that as I am a caregiver, it is possible to only focus attention on the care receiver instead of keeping the needs of both the receiver and the giver in focus.
Healer In-Vesica mixed media collage by Allison L. Williams Hill
A point of revelation for me was that as I asked to be the best healer I can, how else would I attain the ability? The first time I saw the movie Evan Almighty was during a scene in a diner with God asking Evan’s wife how one becomes what they ask for. The answer was that whatever one asks for, more opportunities to develop it appear.
It is also a matter of choice in how one wants to see what is before them. You could look at the change as a crushing life issue for yourself and the one needing care or you could become more accepting of where you are, your (insert the care receiver’s current situation here) condition and learn and grow from it.
Humans create habits, routines that simplify tasks and duties. Disruptions like new life experiences upset imposed order and creates frustration.
Throughout, caregivers remain human and experience emotions and feelings. Sometimes it feels as if there are not enough hours in the day or there is no help which can lead to feeling overwhelmed. This sense may lead to the desire to control, to accomplish what is perceived as needed because control may appear to eliminate uncertainty and fear. The demands of caregiving cause other kinds of stress which can manifest as:
inadequate sleep- either too much or too little affects serotonin levels which is responsible for your well-being;
• weight fluctuation;
• lack of interest in activities that were enjoyable;
• becoming short tempered;
• constant worry;
• physical pain, or
• alcohol or drug abuse to numb and escape.
Stress is considered “normal” and may not be treated beyond complaining but consistent postponement of medical leads, according to research, to compromised immune systems, clinical depression, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.
A healthy place for a caregiver is to acknowledge how and what you are feeling. An acceptable level of stress permits you to work comfortably. However, if any of the above results, it is best to have it checked.
The ultimate in God’s, or whatever name you give to the Divine Being, Plan is that we learn while here and from each other. As your cared for shuts down and refuses to answer questions, what is he or she teaching you? If they develop unusual habits, unlike anything you’ve seen them do or have been told they do, or have a temper tantrum, what is he or she teaching you? As you scream and rage about what your cared for is doing, what lesson are you teaching him or her? Ask yourself: is that the lesson I would like them to learn from me? A beautiful question I learned from one of my spiritual teachers is: “What would Love do?”
Practice “fitting in” to improve health and wellbeing. Examine how time is being used and mine where minutes can be collected to create “nuggets”. I suggest during the time your child, or wife sleeps is one place to schedule alone-time.
• Attempt to schedule alone-time. The quality of a 10 minute gold nugget of time will be more valuable than the quantity of 1 hour. Attempt to set aside the time while your cared for is engaged in something else. For mothers, it may be during your child’s nap.
Make time for what gives you pleasure. If it is reading, a couple of pages a day will support that enjoyment. As you get better at finding time, you will be able to read longer and maintain your responsibilities.
Mangroves on Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Remember that “there is time.” The world will not end tomorrow. Breath can improve health and wellbeing by slowing you down. Breathing is probably the greatest and cheapest thing you can do because it is free, it detoxifies, strengthens muscles and the immune system, improves metabolism, and changes your body’s reaction to stress, to name a few. Breath helps us to release blockages to allow energy to flow through the body.
Begin practicing breathing into your belly if you are not used to it. Stress causes you to take shallow breaths into your chest which becomes a habit. Breathing should be deep, slow, rhythmic, and through the nose. For cleansing breath, inhale a slow deep breath for a count of 7; hold your breath for a count of 8, then release your breath for a count of 7.
Be mindful of your body. Become aware of how you breathe and when you hold your breath. When you become aware of shallow breathing, change it by deepening the next breath.