I’ve never been a believer in thinking up New Year’s resolutions because for one thing, they’re usually the stuff I’ve been trying to accomplish or delete all year long, and stressing over it during the last few days of every year, when life is stressful enough, just seems counterproductive to me. Having said that, some of my friends make them, and find the annual deadline helpful. Some even achieve them! Today’s Caregiver Magazine (who gave us an award for our book — thanks thanks!) has the same kind of suggestions that we, and virtually every other person who has done/seen or been recruited into caregiving subscribes to. If you’re a January 1-resolution-person, AND are a caregiver (though many of them work just as well for those who are simply trying to improve our own lives and live the best way we can day by day), they’re spot-on.
We are grateful to everyone for taking time to read our daily post during the month of November for National Family Caregiver Month. We hope you found the posts inspirational and have learned not to sweat the small stuff and to realize you cannot fix everything. When you begin to feel stress, STOP and take 3 deep breaths to center yourself.
As we approach the Holiday Season we would like to share an old post: Sue’s Favorite Smoothie to give your immune system a boost.
Sue’s Favorite Smoothie
I have never been a fan of taking multi vitamins for several reasons: cost; the neon colored urine, which seems unnatural; and honestly, I forget to take the darn pills. For me making a smoothie is easy, plus I can control what I put into the smoothie (and my urine does not change colors — unless you add beets, which I don’t, I prefer to eat them!).
Greens: A handful. I use lacinato kale or spinach or a combination
Blueberries: 6-10 berries. I use frozen unless in season…
Fresh fruit in season
Flax seed oil: one tablespoon
Cinnamon: one teaspoon
Tumeric powder: one teaspoon
Protein powder: I use 2 Tablespoons of plant-based protein
Almond milk: between ½ to one cup depending on the fresh fruit used and
the desired consistency.
Blend together and enjoy
Greens: I prefer Lucinato Kale because I find it to be less bitter tasting then curly kale. Greens help detoxify the body, give you energy, helps with digestion and strengthens the immune system.
Banana: Rich in Potassium and vitamin B6, helps support heart function.
Blueberry: An antioxidant and some Vitamin C
Flax seed oil: Omega 3 thus it helps lower cholesterol
Cinnamon: Supports heart health, known to lower cholesterol
What Matters Most? Making care of yourself a priority.
We are emotional beings. We often have difficulty expressing ourselves and instead belittle our feelings, calling them unrealistic or silly. This is a set-up for shame and guilt — negative emotions that affect your and others’ lives. The next time you hold back an emotion, notice where you feel it in your body — muscle tension, stomach in knots, holding your breath? Do you find it is easier to keep the peace by not verbalizing what you are feeling? Then write it down, and be graphic when you are writing. Start with: When my mother (father/husband/wife, the one you are caring for) yells at me (after I spent all morning tending to her/his needs) I feel……Fill in the blanks. Name the emotion and own it.
Get the anger/resentment/frustration/sorrow/all-of-the-above down on paper first then later call a friend. Storing repressed emotions in the body can sap energy and doesn’t do good things for your own health, either. It can show up as stiff neck, back pain or headache. Left to fester without release, negative emotions can cause medical problems such as hypertension and digestive disorders. So let it out — either verbally or written or both!
What matters most? Valuing yourself by expressing your feelings honestly and relieving the tensions repressed emotions cause.
‘Aroma’ is scent and ‘therapy’ is treatment. Therapy through scent. Aroma stimulates smell receptors in the nose and sends messages to the part of the brain that controls emotions, so the ‘right’ scent stimulates good emotions. Scent more than anything else, can catapult you into a memory — the aroma of your grandmother’s apple pie can make you feel happy and safe, fresh basil can hark back to a peaceful garden, pine can evoke happy memories of the winter holidays. Inhaling the right scent (for you) can promote sleep, or enhance energy, or reduce stress.
You don’t have to buy expensive oils. Make your own with sliced apples, oranges, cloves or a piece of cinnamon stick in water and simmer on low over a stove.(don’t let it dry out and fry). If you do buy oils but do not have a diffuser, no problem. Place a few drops on light bulbs and turn on the bulb to diffuse the scent. Add a few drops to a hot bath. Heck, taking a whiff of a spice in your kitchen is basic aromatherapy.
The benefits of some scents:
Rosemary = contentment
Lavender = calming
Peppermint = boost energy
Citrus = uplifting
What matters most? Creating a pleasant environment.
Maintaining balance — physical, emotional and spiritual –is essential to well-being. Balance can affect your ability to focus attention and energy on tasks and goals. When you are in balance you feel good and move through life easier. Caregiving can drastically change in short order — a crisis, a needed change in medication, an alteration in the loved one’s abilities. Those changes can leave you feeling out of control and unbalanced. This is normal, or maybe it’s the new normal for you as caregiver. It’s OK to feel frustrated, angry or to have a good cry. It is better to let the feelings out than to suppress them.
When there’s a sudden change in circumstances, reset your day by rethinking chores and errands. This may be a great time to call on that friend or family member who said, ‘Let me know what you need.” They would probably be unhappy to learn you didn’t accept their offer when you needed to, and instead tried to handle a situation alone.
Finding daily balance is ongoing as a caregiver. Think about what is most important for you to accomplish without spreading yourself too thin. Keep going back to the drawing board until you find a solution that makes sense.
What matters most? Flexibility. Try a new approach to a situation.
When you are tired you feel disconnected, and it effects how you relate to those around you. Being tired increases stress, impairs cognition and can cause depression and anxiety. An easy fix is to go to bed early and avoid stimulants such as caffeine, sugar, TV and computers. Instead read a book or magazine (not on an electronic device), listen to soft music, meditate or pray.
What matters most? Creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
Our desire for you this month, dear caregiver, is to reconnect with yourself and find peace. You can start by doing something each day that makes you feel good. Get up early and enjoy a cup of coffee while you write or doodle in your journal. Read the paper, check emails, meditate or pray. Allow yourself fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time. Maybe you can build on the fifteen minutes and maybe not, but savor whatever time you can find the time everyday. Make it a ritual just for you!
What matters most? Giving yourself permission to do something each day for you!