Caregiving isn’t easy. For many, life chapters spent caregiving are arguably some of the most challenging. Ensuring the well being of any person asks a lot of us. It’s easy to lose sight of ourselves, our own ambitions and our own well being. Self-care, while valuable, doesn’t always feel accessible, convenient or all that reasonable, but it’s necessary.
Sometimes vocabulary can be the biggest obstacle to paying attention to our own needs. When I hear tomatoes I might think “yuck” but say “Pizza” and it’s a whole different story. It’s important to frame our lives around the things that make sense to us. If hearing the words “you should take better care of yourself” is off-putting I completely understand. As caregivers, we hear those words all too often and the words don’t mean anything to us, and in turn, the act of self-care becomes something we loath. When you strip away vocabulary, what’s left are just activities that we do.
Transition times are often great opportunities to care for ourselves without having to put a label on it. Transitions are important. They are an opportunity to reset our mood, our energy, our focus by consciously shifting some part of our behavior.
Consider trying this: When you drive back home from an errand, turn off the car, sit back, close your eyes and breathe for 20 seconds. Notice the weight of the stress you’re carrying but don’t try to change it. Feel the walls of your belly expanding and retracting. Spend this time arriving, bringing attention to the physical sensation of having a body and residing within it. All too often, our mind is rushing far ahead of our body which creates anxiety.
Taking time to “land” by briefly pausing like this helps sync up your frenzied mind with your lagging body. Doing so helps relieve some of the anxiety of never doing enough by creating greater cohesion within yourself. When you’re mind and body is in agreement, confidence improves and life feels a little more manageable. Alternatively, you can do this when you come inside and sit down to slowly remove your shoes.
Carving out micro-moments to acknowledge and bring awareness to our physical bodies makes our human experience more tangible. Caregiving asks so much of us making it easy to literally lose sight of ourselves. Rekindling self-awareness is a powerful and simple way to steel your inner resolve by reasserting your own identify and humanity back into your role as caregiver. Go ahead, gift yourself a moment to be you.