It’s Super Bowl Sunday! What are you doing today? Are you going to take part in the festivities centered on camaraderie and the sport?
Before you do indulge for the day, take some time to reflect on the past week. Perhaps this is something you can do each Sunday. You’ll develop strong resilient muscles and will be able to go about the days in your week on purpose and be able to handle anything that comes up.
Try not to be bound by worry and fear. This often paralyzes us from taking action on important things that we need to face. Avoiding things, people, circumstances, and events do not change what’s presently happening.
So in order to prepare yourself for the upcoming week ask yourself the following questions about the prior week:
What went well?
What could have gone better?
What was within your control? What wasn’t?
How can the coming week be even better?
Despite the challenges we face daily, weekly and over the long term, we must continue to work towards bringing our lives into a sense of balance and positivity. Our days go the way we choose to perceive them!
It can be tough to sit back and watch your loved one’s health deteriorate. On a daily basis you watch their struggles and observe how the strong person that used to take care of you now needs you to take care of them. There needs to be a level of acceptance. You may at first feel some type of loneliness or some type of distress as you wonder how you will deal with this situation. You may even be angry. That anger may manifest itself as anger with God for allowing this to happen and making this situation come up at the most inconvenient time in your life. Questions like why now? Why me? Why them? Often surface. Then you may not want to deal with it so you sit in a period of denial forcing you to gloss over the situation because you truly don’t want to believe that this is real. However there comes a time where you can no longer function in a level of denial and you have to step up to the plate and make some hard decisions. You must step in and become the primary decision maker for others rather than just yourself.
I know I began to wonder what gave me the authority to now have to be head of someone else’s life. Why do I now have to adorn this responsibility? I’m just getting the hang of being responsible for myself. It’s as if you were thrust into a fire pit and not having the ability to put out the fire because you have no water and the air is dry. At some point you must take a deep breath and then let go and begin to organize. Just remember to take one step at a time. I’ve made it through. I expect challenges to come. However, with careful planning and mental and emotional preparation you can get through this too. You may need to seek the support of others in similar situations; you need to seek outside connections. Don’t isolate yourself. Remember to set aside time for yourself. A little bit of solo time and time spent with others away from the situation goes a long way.
You may need to sit down and think of some ways that you can achieve a level of acceptance. Redirect your negative thoughts and energy toward something positive.
Please share: What have you done that helps you to keep going?
Identify what is causing you stress: What is the source? Try to pinpoint what is bothering you.
Recognize what you can change: Change what you can if you can identify a solution. If not seek to change your response.
Reduce the intensity of your reactions: Reassess the situation. Are you overreacting? Walk away if the situation is too intense. Return when you feel calm. Resolve not to let situations get you over excited.
Re-examine your attitudes and priorities: Are you taking on too much? Can something be delegated to someone else? Learn to say no. You are not a superhero. Make yourself a priority.
Get organized: Identify when you are best productive. Take some down time. Get some rest. Be a more effective manager of your time.
Develop emotional support and use them: Open up and reach out to others. Try not to hold things inside. Set up a support system. Reach out to friends. Cultivate relationships with people and family. Seek emotional support from counselors, religious advisors or maybe join a support group.
Let it out. : Let all your emotions out. Don’t hold it in! That release may be what you may need. If you feel like laughing, crying, or screaming… do it! Be selective about where you release these emotions but create an outlet where you can do so. Perhaps you can start to write in a journal.
Ask for help: Don’t feel like it is burden to share your need with others. You will never know what resources will be helpful to you if you don’t ask. Identify some tasks and make your request.
Relaxation techniques: Listen to some soothing music. Take 5 minutes to breathe deeply. Utilize breaths in counts of 4 breaths as you inhale and then exhale. You will feel a difference!
First things first.. what is stress? It is the body’s response to the demands that are made on it. Chemicals are released into the blood when the body reacts to what is going on around them that is stressful. We experience stress in times of danger and the body responds by releasing these chemicals which give you more energy and strength. During these times, stress can be quite helpful. What we must be on the look out for relates to if your stress is the result of a response to an emotional event and there’s no outlet to release this extra energy.
We need to look out for bad stress. Did you know that millions of Americans suffer from stress each year?
Stress can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes.
You are more likely to catch colds.
Stress can lead to alcoholism, obesity, drug addiction, cigarette use, depression, and other harmful behaviors
3 out of 4 people suffer from high levels of stress at least twice a month .
¼ of all drugs prescribed in the United States go to the treatment of stress.
Up to 50% of primary caregivers experience significant psychological stress. This can lead to serious health and psychological problems. Be aware of certain symptoms:
Denial Anger Social Withdrawal
Anxiety Depression Exhaustion Sleeplessness
Irritability Lack of Concentration Health Problems
I know at different stages I’ve felt or experienced all of these symptoms. I now know that they were a result of the undue stress that I was under.
What can you do to minimize the pressures you may be feeling?
Engage in self care. Self care is the act of engaging in your own personal health care maintenance. Make an effort to take care of yourself spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Do nice things for yourself and realize that it is important that you put yourself first. Relinquish the need to feel guilty about putting your needs ahead of others. Realize that by not taking care of yourself you will not survive. Often times chronic and acute illnesses have roots tied to the stress in our lives. Taking care of yourself is not a selfish act. It is necessary for your well being.
Attached please find the following Stress Management Plan that I received from a stress management workshop for caregivers. It will help you identify what stresses you out and help you pay attention to how you feel when you are stressed. Take note of things that you can do to help you relax. The more you reduce your stress the better you will feel and your quality of life will greatly improve!
Are you conscious of the life that you are living now?
I was watching Oprah’s Life Class and she featured a show that reflected on being “present in your life”. It first aired in 2008. There was a woman named Brenda, who was a mother of two and a school principal. Her husband normally carried both kids to daycare and school, but that morning he asked his wife to drop off their 2 year old toddler, Cecelia, at the daycare facility. It was the first day of school for Brenda. As a principal, one can only imagine the crazy hectic pace that is expected on the first day of school where a swarm of teachers, students, and parents are scurrying around as they began the new school year. What do you think was going on in Brenda’s mind? She was under a lot of pressure to not only get herself and her kids ready in the morning, but to also prep an entire school for its opening. She stopped to buy some donuts for the teachers because it was too early to drop Cecelia off at the daycare center. The child was quietly sleeping in her car seat in the back of her car. Brenda drove to her school and continued on her day functioning on autopilot. It was business as usual, or so she thought.
As I watched the recount of this story, I felt a pit drop in my stomach. Did they neglect to add a detail? I think they did; but no they did not! Brenda continued on with her day. Yes we did not hear of that one key step… that one necessary task that she needed to complete for that day. She never dropped her daughter off at the daycare center. She forgot and left her daughter in the hot car all day. To her dismay, by the time Brenda got word from a school friend who noticed that her daughter was still in the car, it was way too late. Unfortunately this was a tragic end to this story. I wish I could tell you it ended otherwise, but I can’t.
You are probably wondering, “What does this have to do with me?” Yes I said it, because I know what you are thinking. It’s ok to have those thoughts. I do not take it personally.
How many of us continue on our day in an unconscious state of being? Are you really aware of what’s going on around you or are you constantly rushing from task to task or obligation to obligation? As caregivers, we are often decision makers who are under a considerable amount of pressure being responsible for the care of a loved one. Some of these situations can be very serious and critical on top of our own daily responsibilities. We often go without sleep, tend to become overwhelmed with worry about situations that are out of our control, and put our lives and dreams on hold. These sacrifices can often wreak havoc on our very own health and well being. Guess what? You don’t even have to be a caregiver to suffer from the “superwoman” or superman” complex. Do you constantly try to take care of everyone or try do everything all the time?
WAKE UP! Take a conscious look at your life.
Don’t let a tragedy that could have been prevented be the conscious wakeup call that you need! Seek ways to slow down and realize that you can’t do it all. Ask for help. Say no sometimes. Get some rest. Take yourself out. Call a friend just to shoot the breeze. It all doesn’t have to be done today. Doing some of these things will help you be a part of life instead of life passing you by. I know that Brenda wishes she could go back in time and change what happened on that dreadful day. Her baby was sound asleep; she made no noise; she did not cry. Don’t let busyness, overwhelming responsibilities, and stress keep you from being present in the moment of where you currently are.
This very second, you can wake up and become conscious of the life that you are living. ~ Oprah Winfrey.
What if we knew for certain that everything we’re worried about today will work out fine?
What if . . . we had a guarantee that the problem bothering us would be worked out in the most perfect way, and at the best possible time? Furthermore, what if we knew that three years from now we’d be grateful for that problem, and its solution?
What if . . . we knew that even our worst fear would work out for the best?
What if . . . we had a guarantee that everything that’s happening, and has happened, in our life was meant to be, planned just for us, and in our best interest?
What if . . . we had a guarantee that the people we love are experiencing exactly what they need in order to become who they’re intended to become? Further, what if we had a guarantee that others can be responsible for themselves, and we don’t have to control or take responsibility for them?
What if . . . we knew the future was going to be good, and we would have an abundance of resources and guidance to handle whatever comes our way?
What if . . . we knew everything was okay, and we didn’t have to worry about a thing? What would we do then?
We’d be free to let go and enjoy life.
Today, I will know that I don’t have to worry about anything. If I do worry, I will do it with the understanding that I am choosing to worry, and it is not necessary.
As a caregiver, you are often experiencing a myriad of emotions at any given time. Try to remember to always walk and act in love. The following list references thoughts to keep in mind as you continue on this journey.