Caregivers have a big important job. As board members of the ECF, we have been on both sides of the fence and know how it feels both to care for others and be cared for when needed.  For strong, over-giving women, sometimes it’s hard to ask for help.  And for the people around them, such as friends, family members or spouses, caregiving for the person who is usually always holding everyone else’s world together can be a challenge. Anyone can take care of someone else for a day, i.e., when our EC overcomer comes home from her hysterectomy or days when chemo takes its toll. But after an extended period of time, caregiving can take its toll, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Tasks can include spending time with the person you are caring for, to cooking, to walking dogs, scooping kitty litter, getting the mail and a number of other tasks that you may not be used to doing in addition to your normal routine. Here are a few tips for self-care for the caregiver. 

1. It’s been said that if prayer is talking to God, then meditation is taking the time to clear your mind to listen. Wake up five minutes earlier than the person you are caring for to fill your own cup and get your mindset ready to give out of overflow. Try this:

  • Meditate for at least two minutes to greet the day. Take in a deep breath.  Feel the expansion in your rib cage down through your diaphragm until you feel the expanse of your breath with your back.
  • Slowly exhale this breath to the count of five.
  • Repeat five to ten times. 
  • Be grateful for your own breath and the Giver of your breath. Starting your day with gratitude fills your own cup and brings blessings into your life.
  • In the second part of your morning practice, you may want to pray for the person you are caring for or send them a loving intention or energy. One is to say this phrase internally: “Darling, I am here for you.” (This mantra is by Thich Nhat Hanh- one of the great meditative minds of our lifetime).
  • At the end of the third breath, place your hands in a prayer position over your heart, saying quietly as you picture your loved one, “Namaste,” (Nah-mas-tay), roughly translated for our purposes as: The loving, healing light in me honors and recognizes the loving, healing light in you. 
  • Use this as a salutation to the day and support yourself in feeling loved and loving– ready to start the day.

2. Have a wonderfully yummy, warm drink, such as an exotic healthy tea or coffee, and take the time to taste and savor it. 

3. Smile. When you find yourself smiling, celebrate the act.  Joy is good. Always appreciate a moment of relief.  Your body is gathering ways to keep you in motion. Never feel guilt for moments of fun and find things to smile for intentionally. Studies have shown that just by purring a smile on your face, your body releases good neurochemicals that support your health. 

4. Stretch. When you are not able to go for a brisk walk, give your body a full stretch. Arms, legs, back, neck, etc.  This will remind you that you are still connected to yourself with health. Plus, it just feels good and gets your energy flowing when you are feeling a bit run down or having a mid-day energy slump. 

5. Appreciate. Tell yourself one thing you appreciate about yourself, the day, etc. You may even wish to start a gratitude journal, as a great way to end your day. Also, tell your EC Overcomer one thing you appreciate about them every day. 

Let’s begin to see self-care and caregiving as a motion like shaking hands. You need two hands to complete the act.

Much love, Jean and Anne