The Fog is LiftingApril 23, 2023
Protecting Our Mental Health Within the Storm of Disrespect and AgitationJuly 6, 2023
Being a caregiver is no easy task, and that’s an understatement. Caring for someone else is rarely done in isolation. It often coincides with the demands of a family, work obligations, and assuming new roles and responsibilities that were once fulfilled by the person in need of care. During it all, caregivers often find themselves neglecting their own needs. Caregiving is a long-term stressor, and as time goes by, the stress keeps accumulating. It becomes essential to find ways to cope with this stress and prioritize our own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Unfortunately, for many caregivers, finding meaningful time for recovery is a rare luxury. Gradually, the ability to take care of oneself diminishes, as the demands of caregiving take their toll.
Short-term stressors are something we, as human beings, can handle quite effectively. Why? Because we can recover and integrate the stressful experiences into our lives. We can restore ourselves in ways that enhance our overall health. However, caregivers often find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities without sufficient time to rest, let alone recover. With their minds constantly preoccupied by the circumstances of the person they are caring for, their own well-being suffers. Consistently functioning under such stress is not only unhealthy but also unsustainable.
Fortunately, there are practices we can incorporate into our daily lives to help us manage our well-being, especially when facing highly stressful situations. One practice is training our minds to be present and cultivating awareness of our thoughts and feelings. By focusing on our breath and simply being aware of our thoughts and emotions without judgment, we improve our ability to experience relaxation and restore our sense of well-being.
Mindfulness is an effective tool for preventing the stress response. It is often said that we worry more about the well-being of the caregiver than the person who is ill. Why? Because caregivers often neglect their own self-care and nurturing, and even when they do prioritize it, they may not have anyone to provide relief and support. They keep going, running on empty. As their own health deteriorates, they may fail to pay attention to the warning signs: headaches, back or neck aches, worry, erratic eating habits, poor sleep, indigestion, lack of focus, impatience, and more. It’s easy for caregivers to say, “I’m OK” when their sole focus is on caring for the other person. However, by living in a constant state of worry about what has been lost, reliving the past, or envisioning a bleak future, caregivers are not staying in the present moment.
Winding Down or Gearing Up—Tips For a Restful Night’s Sleep
As the month of June rolls in, it brings with it a sense of change—a time of endings and new beginnings. Our calendars fill up with graduations and weddings, and children wrap up their school year, eagerly anticipating the arrival of summer. Each of us approaches June in our own unique way: some of us slow down, while others gear up for what lies ahead.
Amidst the hustle and bustle, one thing remains constant: the importance of getting enough sleep to maintain our physical and mental health. We all know this, so why is it so challenging to prioritize it as a fundamental part of our lives?
For some, the fear of missing out drives us to stay up too late and wake up too early, depriving our brains and bodies of the deep sleep they desperately need. It is during deep sleep that our bodies restore themselves to full function, and our brains go through essential sleep cycles to ensure we receive the rest we require. Engaging in excessive screen time, especially before bed, exposes us to artificial blue light, which interferes with the production of melatonin—a chemical crucial for sleep regulation. Thus, peering at screens when we should be sleeping disrupts our natural rhythm.
Fortunately, there are simple strategies that can help improve our sleep quality. Consider using sleep aids such as earplugs, eyeshades, or white noise machines to block out external sounds and create a peaceful environment that promotes falling and staying asleep.
Additionally, adopting a practice of light evening meals and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake at night can assist in promoting restful sleep.
We cannot underestimate the significance of quality sleep for our overall health. While the ideal amount varies for everyone, most adults require between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Depriving ourselves of adequate sleep impairs our ability to function, concentrate, think clearly, and even carry out everyday tasks safely.
So, as we begin the month of June, let us remember the value of a good night’s sleep. By making sleep a priority, we equip ourselves with the physical and mental resilience needed to embrace life’s transitions and face the world with renewed vitality and clarity.
Daily Journaling for Reflection and Emotional Well-Being
Taking a few moments each day to reflect and write has numerous benefits. Journaling provides a safe space to express thoughts and emotions, offering us clarity and self-understanding. It serves as a form of self-care, releasing stress, and engendering peace. Journaling allows us to celebrate achievements, express gratitude, and set intentions. It fosters mindfulness, enhances cognitive abilities, and supports problem-solving skills. By making journaling a regular practice, we empower ourselves to navigate challenges with resilience and self-awareness.