Try Being a Ten Minute Caregiver

Margery Pabst - February 25, 2013 09:53 AM

You are probably thinking, “What a title! How can I be a caregiver for only 10 minutes when this is a 36-hour job packed into a 24-hour day?” February, our heart month, is a time to consider all we do for others, and yes caregiving is exhausting, with 36-hour tasks each and every day for many of us.

In the midst of a busy caregiver's life, being a 10-minute caregiver for YOURSELF is, however, very realistic. It's amazing how much good can be done for yourself and your heart in just 10 minutes, so let's brainstorm and list some ideas! I find that refreshing myself in a 5-10 minute period not only revives me physically but also enlivens and reinforces my confidence as a caregiver and person.

So what can we do in 5-10 minutes to refresh and revitalize ourselves? Here are some principles and with specific activities that work for me.

-Seek a quiet place. Quiet is often a pre-requisite for filling up emotionally and spiritually. I turn off the television, the radio, my cell phone, etc. for 10 minutes twice a day and retreat to the quietest place in the house. Sometimes I just close my eyes, sometimes I focus on my breathing, and at other times, I read something short, soothing, and inspirational. As a writer, one of my favorite books is “The Right to Write”,
by Julia Cameron. Her message is about belief in oneself, in this case, having confidence to be a writer. Use your personal and favorite books that inspire you in quiet time.

-Gravitate to nature. Taking a walk around two blocks in my neighborhood refreshes my body and my energy to get back to the day at hand. I've timed my walks and now I have four from my home that last 10 minutes each. I also have a spot in my backyard when I can combine quiet time with the green all around me.

-Call the friend who listens the best. We all know who that person is in our lives--the one who is there to listen to the best and the worst that just happened. Sharing both the best and the worst serves as a release of emotions, and the simple act of retelling the story creates a calming effect for me. In 10 minutes, a telephone call will easily allow my recent story (bad or good) to be told and my friend to respond. Alternatively, sit with your friend in that favorite green spot you have.

-Choose an art form that revives your soul. I love reading and listening to music. Note that this 10 minute time for yourself can combine with your quiet time. Reading a few pages or listening to one movement of a symphony or two jazz songs completes a wonderfully relaxing 10-minute respite for me.

-Find something slightly sinful that replenishes your resilient self. Yesterday, I went shopping at a Walgreen's for toothpaste and some toothbrushes. While there, I spotted a 95% dark chocolate bar with sea salt. After eyeing it a few minutes and then returning to the aisle that displayed the sweets, I decided to buy it and savor it over the next several days--it was, after all, a big bar of chocolate! The first piece of dark spicy chocolate was delightful and inspirational. I'm also sharing it and find when I do, the goodness of life flows from it. By the way, I savored my chocolate in my special green backyard space here I find quiet time.

All of these 10-minute interludes can be shared with others, with care partners too, but always be aware that reserving your special 10 minutes for yourself is key to long term resilience.

So what are your thoughts for ?being a 10 minute caregiver?' Take ten minute challenge, make a list that serves you, and begin to reserve two 10-minute times each day for creating and maintaining personal resiliency. The practice will affirm your personal worth and confidence while caregiving.

Click here to read Margery Pabst’s article, “Why a Caregiving Plan for Yourself Makes Sense.”

Margery Pabst is eCareDiary's caregiving expert and the author of “Words of Care”, a book for the busy caregiver available on Amazon.com. “Words of Care” is divided into 5-10 minute reads, answering questions and providing tips for such caregiving needs as asking for help, getting in touch with emotions, and dealing with family issues. For more information about Margery and the radio shows, “Caregiver and Physician Conversations” and “Caregivers Speak!” which she hosts for eCareDiary.com, see www.pivotalcrossings.com.

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