I hear from so many people who feel so depleted and don't have time to replenish themselves: too much to do and other priorities. I am not suggesting you take two weeks off and go to the Bahamas. (Though I admit that sounds amazing, it's not always feasible.) It is the smallest of things that you can do for yourself that can make the most significant impact.
It begins with the stripping away of all the holiday trappings, usually on the first day of the year, but sometimes the following weekend. Red and green are packed away to be replaced with calming pastels - tranquil blues and creams - punctuated with bursts of color (turquoise, lime green, orange) that are like visual bubbles of delight. They lack the audacity of Valentine reds, purple, and pink, and aren't quite as vivid as the colors of spring and summer, but they feel light and positive when compared to the muted light and bare trees outside.
I know journaling is not for everyone. I also know finding time to journal as a caregiver can be daunting. That being said, I am still going to point out the joys of journaling.
Do you believe in magic? I do. The holiday and New Year seasons are lovely reminders of its importance; you can feel it in the air if you are still enough. Small acts of kindness, random gestures, or simple adventures can fill your heart and that of others with magic. Hope. Peace.
Hanukkah. Solstice. Yule. Christmas. All these powerful celebrations coincide this week, and while all have different themes and belong to different faiths, they all share one commonality: they celebrate the return of light and hope into a dark world. For caregivers, the holidays can be extremely stressful as we try to balance the needs of others with the needs of ourselves. It can be especially difficult when the people in our care are no longer able to enjoy the holidays they once loved.
I ask you to pause and think about this statement: The weight of responsibility that we place on ourselves and the forgiveness we don’t give. We all fumble at times in our lives. We've had words that flew out of our mouths under duress because we've exhausted ourselves. We've experienced anger, impatience, fear - all big emotions that can overwhelm our sanity - it happens to all of us. Those words/thoughts can be directed toward others as well as us.
I think of journaling like a trusted friend - one you can let your 'hair' down and write what is bubbling up. No judgment. I also love to use it for gratitude - a wonderful place to focus on the end of your day on what went RIGHT vs. focusing on what may have gone wrong—a lovely way to go to sleep at night.
All of this can chip away at your emotions over time. The emotional outcome might be feelings of failure, worthlessness, hopelessness, or any other emotion. Perhaps your head ends up filled with thoughts like, "I'll never be able to…" or "If only I had…." It's understandable. All of it. And the things your mind keeps chattering at you only serve to distract and exhaust you.
Amid the turbulence, do you find yourself so paralyzed that you cannot raise your hand for help? Perhaps you're assuming that others will surely see your intention and your needs without making it ‘perfectly clear'? Or perhaps more often the case, ashamed that you ‘need’ to ask?
Get curious and tune in: how is your body talking to you? Change a few things around and listen: what does your body have to say?