When traveling by plane, one of the first instructions you are given is to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before putting it on the person next to you needing help.
This is very true of caregiving. Our lives center around the patient and before long, we neglect our needs. We do not take time to eat properly, exercise and participate in the activities we used to enjoy. We grow frustrated, angry and depleted. We feel guilty for feeling this way when our loved one is suffering, which perpetuates the spiral.
We cannot give what we do not have.
It is vital to remember to take care of ourselves. Each day we need to take time to fill up which will help both you and your loved one. When we do, we are more centered, more efficient and have more stamina. We can fill up so we can give with the same love and compassion we show ourselves.
Let me know in the comments below how you might be able to take better care of yourself.
Traffic is a fact of life in metropolitan areas, yet many times when we are caught in traffic we get angry and frustrated.
Before we realize it, our breath is shallow and our neck and shoulders are tight.
I was leaving a parking lot and planned to make a right hand turn. Much to my dismay, a car pulled out of a lot across the street and rudely blocked my entire lane, causing a line of cars behind me. My reaction was anger and frustration at how inconsiderate the driver was.
I noticed my reaction and after employing the technique below I felt calm and centered once again.
- Take a moment to see if you are holding your breath.
- Notice if you are tensing your neck and shoulders.
- Feel your feet on the ground and if you are sitting, feel your contact to the seat beneath you.
- Relax your belly and without straining take three slow, easy inhalations and exhalations, each time softening your neck and shoulders.
- Now, review the situation as if you were giving a report, without commentary and see how you can make a choice to see the event differently.
Give this a try next time you have a situation where you are frustrated driving (you will have many opportunities!) and let me know in the comments below what happened. If it did not help, what you think got in the way?
I was at the airport boarding my plane. In front of me was a frustrated mom raising her voice to her child while holding her heavy carry on in one hand and a baby in the other.
My first reaction was judgment at how she was speaking with her child.
I took a breath and asked her if she needed help and she did not hesitate to say “YES”. Her voice was still curt but and she said a quick thanks.
There are opportunities every day to practice kindness even when the tendency is to judge. Remembering that we are all human, doing the best we can helps us see beyond the behaviors of others.
The most powerful practice (and toughest to attain) is to let go of any attachment to their response and treat the person you are helping with compassion, as another human being, no different from yourself.
If I had stayed in judgment or frustration of her behavior I would have felt tense and agitated. When I choose to be kind, my state was calm and centered.
Let me know in the comments below what your experience has been and how you feel when you practice kindness.
Often when your have a problem, your lose your ability to see a solution. The mind gets in the way and your vision is clouded by your perceptions, resulting in perpetuating the problem. You are left feeling drained and frustrated.
There are simple techniques that will help you take a closer look at the situation.
Try this next time you have a problem:
- Get still for a moment and take a few slow breaths.
- Focus your attention on the problematic situation and watch it without taking it personally, the way you would watch a movie.
- As you watch, pay close attention to the part you play in the movie focusing on the images in front of you. If you start getting an opinion, take a few breaths.
- Identify the problem that you see on the screen, including your part, with a neutral point of view.
- Now, think of one thing you can do to move into the solution. It might be as simple as a shift in attitude.
Let me know in the comments below what happens. Were you able to detach from the move long enough to see a solution? If not, let me know in the comments below what you think happened.
Un-Hook from Reaction with 5 Simple Tools
Relationships can be wonderful and rich, but they also often challenge us.
Those we care about the most can easily frustrate us. Our significant other, our children or parents hook us and we react.
Many times the feelings are justified, but the problem arises when we respond with inappropriate behavior. Yelling, stomping and name calling is harmful to both you and those around you, and your frustrations can lead to these behaviors in a flash. It is like being blindsided by a car. You did not see it coming until it is too late, but the damage is already done.
How can you step on the breaks instantly?
Here are some simple tools that can help:
1. Take a breath
2. Feel your feet on the ground
3. Put a visual Stop Sign in your mind
4. Walk away and talk later
5. Bring to mind someone you care about (it might be the person you are reacting to)
What do all of these tools have in common? They bring you back to the moment.
Try one or all of these tools and see if it makes a difference. If you react to others in emotionally harmful ways, and later realize that you should have used one of the above techniques, you are already on your way to change. Please share what worked or did not work for you in the comments below. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Stand with your feet parallel to one another, a few inches apart. Stand with your body upright and look straight ahead with a soft gaze.
Bring your awareness to the connection to your feet on the floor and notice how your weight is distributed.
Is there more in front of you feet, or in your heels? Is it even? See if you can even out your weight, even feeling the connection of sides of your feet to the floor.
Take an easy inhale, and an easy exhale. Keep your awareness on the connection of your feet to the earth as you continue with easy breathing.
This simple tool will calm your mind and body and bring you back to the moment. It is great to use when you are out and about during your day.
Try this next time you are waiting on line and let me know how it went in the comments below. Did it help avert growing frustration? Were you able to keep your attention the connection of your feet to the floor? If not, what do you think happened? If you have any questions, please ask.
When you are overwhelmed and stressed, you are stuck in the problem and are unable to see a way out. You procrastinate, quit or panic. This halts any positive momentum, and it is discouraging.
What can you do to shift your mindset?
Action is the key:
The next time you are in overwhelm mode, pick one very simple task that has a beginning, middle and end, and give it your complete focus.
For example, pick a small drawer and clean it. Take one folder and file it. Make one phone call.
When you finish, congratulate yourself and experience the sense of accomplishment.
Remember, keep it very simple, and the momentum will begin to build.
Try this out and let me know what task worked for you and how you felt. Did you keep it simple? If it did not work, what do you think happened? If you have any questions, please share in the comments below.