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According to a MetLife Study, the three hardest problems for caregivers are finding time for oneself, balancing work and family responsibilities, as well as balancing physical and emotional stress. If you are a small business or solo entrepreneur who also is taking care of an aging or ill parent, then you have the perfect set-up for your own illness, unless you take the proper time to care for yourself, as well.
As a wellness consultant and entrepreneur-caregiver myself, the following are my top 10 tips for relaxation which also work across the board for anyone involved in care giving activities. Choose at least three that you can incorporate into your life on a regular basis.
1. BE GRATEFUL EACH DAY.
Look at the news and you know that life is not promised to us. Just waking up knowing that the day literally is the beginning of the rest of our lives should give us a pause and make us joyous to be alive. There is something to be said for an “attitude of gratitude” even in the midst of your care giving duties.
2. STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES.
Often when I find myself in a frenetic pace, I simply stop and remind myself that there is no need to get into a tizzy about whatever I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes peace of mind is better than running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The sun and moon will always rise — at their own pace.
3. A GOOD NIGHT’S REST.
For most people seven to eight hours of sleep is ideal. Of course, some people can function well with fewer hours depending upon their makeup. The key thing is to know when you clearly aren’t getting enough and to make adjustments. Sleep is the time that our bodies use to rejuvenate itself. It is hard to feel relaxed when we’re exhausted from a lack of sleep. Proper sleep is CRITICAL for the caregiver.
4. THE ART OF THE BATH.
Taking a good bath has given way to the quick shower for many people. But nothing can beat a long, hot soak for the ultimate in quiet time, reflection, and relaxation. Light some candles, diffuse some essential oils, put on some relaxing music and simply go “ahhhhh.”
5. FOOD FOR FUEL.
You are what you eat. Garbage in. Garbage out. Plug yourself with junk and non-nutrient rich food and it is going to be hard to feel 100%, let alone relaxed and refreshed. There are scores of books on proper eating. Pick an approach that works for you and stick with it. Intense caregiving is not the time to give in to junk food.
6. GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER.
Feng Shui is the art and science of placement. The basic premise is that our home is a mirror, a metaphor for our lives. If you’re saddled with a cluttered home, then it actually weighs on your subconscious, making it difficult to feel truly relaxed.
7. CH’I ENHANCERS.
Surround yourself with ch’i enhancers. Ch’i means life energy in Chinese. Ch’i enhancers are those things that make us feel relaxed, happy, and peaceful. Wind chimes, water fountains, soft music, and fragrance are all wonderful examples of the enhancers. Pets represent one of the all-time ch’i enhancers and work wonders for both the caregiver and the person being take care of. With their innocent faces and happy hearts, pets can uplift us when everything else goes kerplunk.
8. CH’I LEADERS.
Ch’i leaders are our own cheerleaders. Surround yourself with positive people who support and energize you. Toxic people will only drain your energy, making it hard for you to go about life ever feeling relaxed. Learn how not to give away your personal power to noxious people.
Get the blood flowing. Volumes have been writing about the benefits of exercise. The net of it is that we actually increase our capacity to go about our daily chores by exercising, and therefore feel less stressed. When we have accomplished our tasks in a timely and fit fashion, it is a lot easier to feel relaxed. With care giving there always are lots of things to be done!
10. MEDITATE AND PRAY.
Silence is indeed golden. Sometimes we become hyped up over a problem simply because we haven’t taken the time to be quiet and still. It’s amazing the answers I get when I stop and turn off the inner chatter. And no matter what your religious belief, praying to a higher power can certainly take the stress out of a situation and make us breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it will turn out for the best in the end. Reflexology, massage, and healing touch are excellent ways to get into a deep meditation. As a caregiver you simply MUST find some quiet time for yourself.
© 2007 Paula Quick.