Taking Time for You While Caring for the Elderly


We're all care providers here. Whether we're parents, children caring for parents or lucky enough to be the "sandwich" generation (caring for both parents and children simultaneously) it's often hard to find a moment to breathe, let alone relax. After all, there are meals to caring for the elderly cook, errands to run, bills to pay, medical appointments to make, late night calls for help and who-knows-what-else that are all priorities. Taking time out for ourselves is just one more thing to add to the never ending To Do List.

Recently I saw a psychotherapist seeking help in finding some balance for my life. Working multiple jobs, caring for loved ones and managing medical crises had taken an incredible toll on my physical, emotional and spiritual well being. The first thing he told me to do was breathe. Literally.

Not being one who likes to slow down, it was hard for me to learn to stop and relax. So, my therapist taught me what he calls the "10 Minute Miracle." It consisted of three huge breathes (you know those loud, embarrassing ones from your very core) and eight smaller breathes, repeated consistently for 10 minutes. I was instructed to clear my mind, let the oxygen flow through my body and hit the reset button in my brain. The funny thing is, as silly as I felt doing it, it worked. I try to indulge in those 10 minutes every day. That's a big commitment for me, the overachieving, over-promising, do-it-yourself gal.

What I learned through that simple exercise was that I could be much more productive, much more relaxed and infinitely more effective by stepping "outside" my busy life for even a few minutes a day. After taking the plunge in devoting time to breathe, I began to find more minutes here and there that I took as my own. Stopping to look at a beautiful tree in bloom. Taking a short walk with the dog while I had a few minutes of care covered by others. Reading an indulgent, non-thinking book before going to sleep (instead of my usual self-improvement, business and self-help library). Actually looking at my loved ones and truly interacting, living in the moment.

I don't have it all figured out yet. Some days are better than others. But I am a happier person when I stop to breathe. What I found was that by rediscovering my center, forcing myself to make time for me, allowed me to see my loved ones in a new light. Instead of rushing from task to task I'm learning to stop, breathe, and enjoy the moment. After all, they are fleeting.

Taking time out for yourself will help you get through these trying times, and possibly even allow you insight into ways that they can even the hardest of times can be the best days of your life.

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--Kim Thies


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