In a recent Care Circle that we have available for family caregivers, a memory from a long time ago came to mind. I walked into the role of family caregiver with no sense of what was to come. It was years into that role, caring for both my mom and my brother, that I took a vacation to Maui. The morning after I arrived, I went on an early morning beach walk, and the moment my feet touched the sand overlooking the ocean, I took in a long, deep breath. On the exhale, I realized that was the first real breath I had taken in years.
Whether you are a family caregiver or a healthcare professional, you give so much of yourself in the care of others. When did you take your last deep breath? The impact of not doing so affects both you and those you are caring for, so in truth, no one wins.
Our emotions are delicate. Even the ‘toughest’ of souls are affected by the lives of others. In the healthcare arena, many are taught to disengage and not become too attached to the one they are caring for. But I tend to wonder just how true that really can be. Running tapes in the back of our minds, the latest news flash perhaps fear of the unknown and what might come next.
I find when I am mentally and physically exhausted, I make mistakes. Have you ever been in a grocery store and looked up, realizing you have no idea why you are there? Your mind was so busy racing about the day’s transactions that you lost track of the present moment. Yes, you’re in the middle of the vegetable section and lost your noodle!
Pacing, planning, and observing yourself through the days are important. You give care, but you also need care. There are times when you need to dig deep to keep going. And there are times that you need to acknowledge the emptiness you’re feeling inside. We all go through it. Resilience and learning to see through, even in our darkest moments, are supported by giving ourselves the space to balance.
Would it be effective for you to wake up 20 minutes earlier to try some form of mindfulness meditation or write in a journal? Set your intention for the day – start off fresh and refreshed? Perhaps pop out the door for a brief half-hour walk around the block to BREATHE. Simple moments are magic moments where you that enable you to restore, replenish, and begin anew.
Life is happening right now, at this very moment. You close your eyes, you blink, and the moment has passed. Though that moment seems brief, what you do in it lasts forever. How will you show up for yourself and in the life of others?