by LOLA RAIN, WISELY WELL-BEING ACADEMY
Every single day, as a caregiver to older adults, you face a challenge (or two or three or ten). More often than not, you prevail. But it doesn’t always feel that way, does it? Burnout creeps up slowly and one day the fantasy of walking out the door begins to appear in your head. It plays like an epic Western — you walk towards the sunset while the fallout smolders behind you.
THIS IS A SIGN
Because you are dedicated, the stress at work likes to ride home with you at night. It sneaks into your purse or pocket, and it jumps out like a mischievous gremlin. Our families tend to not like the little stress devil we carry around on our shoulder, especially when it cries or screams, sleeps excessively or drinks a lot of alcohol.
We learned coping techniques as a child. Emotional outburst may serve children when they are hungry, tired or sad; however, our children, spouses, and co-workers don’t appreciate when we are feeling overwhelmed and inadvertently take it out on them. People prefer to see us upbeat and smiling. How do we put on a happy face when we feel beat up and burnt out?
IT’S TIME FOR SELF-CARE
Stress has its place. It can motivate you, and it can also take you down — momentarily or long-term. To avoid being paralyzed or bulldozed by stress and other emotions, take care of yourself.
Yes, you know all about exercise and nutrition. But did you know a short pause could change the course of your day? It used to be known as the 15-minute break, where you actually took a break.
Self-care is so much more important than it sounds, and it goes way beyond brushing your teeth and taking vitamins. It’s learning to breathe.
RE-SET YOURSELF, OVER AND OVER AGAIN
What if I tell you there is an easy way to keep your brain fit, reduce brain fog, and give you more energy every day to tackle really tough situations? And there are no barriers. You already have access to the solution right now.
Here it is:
Close your door (optional). Sit quietly for a few minutes. Place your hands on your lap or by your side. Palms up. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Slow it down. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
As the thoughts creep in and your eyes try to open, and you feel your hand reaching for your phone, just ask those thoughts to go away. After sitting still for a few minutes, say to yourself one thing you are thankful for. And if you are daring, say it out loud. “I am thankful for this chair. I am thankful for that door. I am thankful for my office manager. I am thankful for my receptionist. I am thankful for my neighbor.”
This is meditation. It’s not complicated. It doesn’t take a pair of $99 yoga pants or a fancy water bottle. You don’t even have to leave your office. Try it in the car before you go into your house at night. Try it when you wake up in the morning. Try it while you sit on the commode. Try it when you feel that stress sneaking upon you.
REINVENT. PIVOT. IMPROVE YOURSELF.
If this sounds too complicated, yet you feel something festering inside, it is time to pivot. Many of the speakers at the recent ‘Our Time to Shine’ digital summit by Senior Living Foresight talked about having to overcome adversity in their careers and follow their hearts. Matt Paxton, PBS host of Legacy List, explained, “This is your time to go out and do something different.” Dr. Bill Thomas reinforced to the audience, “Life is messy, complicated and weird.” We all feel that way.
David Harry Stewart, founder of We Are Ageist illustrated people working hard at finding the best version of themselves. It takes a lot of work. It takes resilience.
Mary Furlong, producer of the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture said, “You are going into the blue ocean water.” There is opportunity everywhere in the longevity economy, you don’t need to look too far.
You are not alone in your desire to do more, to be more. Give yourself permission to breathe.