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.
It is not only the quantity of sleep, but the quality of sleep that is important. Even if you have interrupted sleep, you can have a more restful night, and generate more stamina throughout your day.
A focused breathing practice will help. The benefits of focused breathing are:
- Quiets your mind, bringing you back to the moment
- Brings more oxygen into your body, increasing stamina during the day
- Lowers your heart rate and calms your nervous system
1. Lie on your back in bed, with a pillow under your knees and begin breathing through your nose.
2. Put your attention on your breath without judging or influencing it in any way.
3. Notice the entire breath cycle of inhalation and exhalation.
4. Notice where your breath is most evident to you:
- Is it the movement of air into your nostrils?
- Is it the movement of air in your nose or throat?
- Is it the rise and fall of your belly and chest?
- Is it the entire cycle of your breath?
5. Wherever it is, keep your attention there, staying aware of your breath. There is not right way to notice, simply be aware.
6. As you follow your breath you may notice your attention wandering to your thoughts. If it wanders simply and kindly bring it back to the breath.
Use this technique anytime you wake up in the night, or to get to sleep.
Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you. If it did not work, what do you think happened?
I taught a sleep workshop the other day and the recurring theme was the inability to shut off thoughts. It seems to be an epidemic stemming from our busy, stressed out lives.
Many use medications to help with this problem, and even if they help they produce side effects.
It is a vicious cycle- less sleep at night, less energy during the day.
The twist below has many benefits:
- Calms the nervous system.
- Massages your internal organs, increasing the blood and oxygen supply
- Lengthens and twists the spine.
- Turn off the television and computer and try some bed yoga. It is a simple twist and the benefits are:
- Lie on your back with your head level, and bring your knees to your chest.
- Hold your knees and roll over to the right side, keeping your knees bent at a right angle and let them rest on the bed.
- Slide your left hand to your waist and allow your elbow to rest back, creating a gentle twist to your spine. You can lengthen your arm out beside you, if that is comfortable. If your knees come apart, put a pillow between them.
- Your head will turn toward the right side.
- Stay here for 2-4 minutes noticing your breath, and then do other side.
*If this in any way hurts, come out of pose.
Let me know in the comments below how this works for you. Were you more relaxed going to sleep? Was your mind quieter? If it did not help, what do you think happened?