RESILIENCE: Build energy to be present
If you are in a role actively caring for others, you create habits that deepen and may be subconscious or unexamined, and may be working against you.
Use the Caregiver Quiz to learn if it is time to care in a way that is healthier for you.
If you are a professional health care provider, be aware that there is a tendency in the health care field to uphold the professional who goes the extra mile, especially if this includes a significant cost to that person. The cost may be lost sleep, working overtime, unpaid work, letting go of responsibilities to family and loved ones outside of work. A workaholic approach to caregiving can get drain your personal life, your self care, and even your love of your work. When this leads to burnout, consequences to the individual are significant.
If the majority of your answers are "Strongly Agree" or "Agree" in the Caregiver Test, then you are at higher risk of "care addiction".
Consider seeking support or coaching to improve your wellness. You may also benefit from the Northshore Caregiver Expo on May 5th, 2018.
In the meantime, here are some simple reset wellness tips to try:
1. SELF WEALTH:
Repeat to your self: "I am worthy of great care." Try to feel this in your body, your heart, your mind. Try this for 5 minutes, with deep breathing the uses your diaphragm. You can also try "I can handle this", as believing that you can handle stress leads to positive physiological changes in the body, compared to when you believe that you can't handle stress.
2. CRYSTAL CLEAR:
Crystal clear boundaries at work: Take a moment every 1 to 2 hours and check in how you feel. Notice if you can care with compassion and kindness, and be wary of trying to connect by trying to feel the same feelings as the person you are caring for. Studies show that monks practicing "mehta", which is compassion or loving kindness, do not experience the same stress or brain rhythm disruption as monks who listen as if they were in the other persons' shoes, or with empathy instead of with compassion. Recognize your role. Be a consultant, and a professional, rather than a rescuer or saviour.
Try limiting interpersonal interactions with people in distress to under thirty minutes as studies show that after thirty minutes you can start to take on similar brainwave patterns to the distressed person.
Learn more about heart math, and how you can focus on creating a positive emotion, and how you may be responding to negative emotion in another, and see if you can reset the tone of the interaction. Do you best to bring your mood tone to a place that is healthy. Researchers at the University of Calgary are currently using heart math with all health care professionals on clinic and hospital teams to study how stress effects teams.
3. TAKE A BREATH:
Take breaks in the day, mini ones and longer ones. At the end of the day, take 30 to 60 minutes alone to destress and put the day to rest. Review moments of excitement, positive or negative, and calm your nervous system with mindfulness, meditation, exercise, or heart math, as you do this. Decide how you will approach the day differently tomorrow. Then engage with your family, your loved ones.
Enrich your connections. Talk to the important people in your inner circle: your family, your closest friends, people outside of work / care duties. Ask these people how they can feel deeply appreciated by you, experience quality time with you, or something they would like to hear you say. Give to your inner circle, let them feel the gratitude you have for them being in your life. Be honest about how you are actually doing. Hiding how you are or pretending you are okay when you are not, does not help you or them.
5. A DAY OFF:
Book an entire day off a week. No plans. Zero. Just time to "go with the flow". See what happens. Take a pause in your week.
Write down, "If I had all the time in the world and everyone was taken care of, then I would . . . "
Think of five small things you would do for yourself if you had all the time in the world. Make a point to do these five things in the next two weeks.
Writing is also helpful to grow neurons back from stress, says Dr. Cara Wellman.
7. RIGHT NOW:
Simply take a deep breath right now, and soften your gaze or close your eyes. Ask yourself, "What healthy activity do I need right now?" See what the answer is. Some possible answers: a walk outside, a sweet conversation with my partner, a guided meditation, listening to some music, remembering a great time in the last year, planning a future holiday, reading a good book, yoga, making a healthy meal, re-reading my goals for the month, spending some time laughing with friends, a big hug, a quiet space alone . . . you get the idea.
Meditative movement is powerful, consider yoga, tai chi, running with a meditative mindset, or other mind-body practice.
8. IF THIS DOESN'T WORK:
Book an appointment with your family doctor, and discuss your stress levels, wellness, health. Consider checking nutrient levels like B12, Ferritin (even if your hemoglobin is normal), Magnesium, Zinc, inflammation markers, and hormone levels like testosterone (decreases with stress), progesterone (decreases with stress), estrogen (increases with stress and can increase risk of cancer), TSH, T3, T4.
Consider a referral to a certified wellness coach or psychotherapist who works with health care providers. Take Care of You.
For emergencies in Vancouver, contact the AAC for yourself or a loved one, and for general emergencies, contact your local crisis line.
Wishing you the best, always,
Dr. M. ~